Stinson on a Cold Tuesday

That title sounds like I’m waxing poetic about cheese. I guess that would be “stilton.”- Don’t get me wrong, I could absolutely wax poetic about cheese, but I won’t today.

One of the many reasons I love to go up Stinson Mtn in Rumney is because of its old growth birch groves. It’s really difficult to find any kind of truly old growth forest in New England. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time to when my European fore-people sailed on up to the coast and where like, “Damn, those are some nice trees!” I mean, those suckers must have been freaking huge once upon a time.

Alas, it is also because of my fore-people that there are very few old growth forests in New Hampshire, and why it is quite special to be able to walk through them. There is another old patch of birch trees on the Glencliff side of Mt. Moosilauke, but I’ll have to get into that another time. Birch groves are cool because, besides being beautiful and all that, they also house the slightly elusive and very special chaga mushroom, and give me the opportunity to do a little wild foraging- I know, try to contain your excitement.

I found a few trees with chaga on it, but refrained from collecting any because a little goes a long way and I have plenty at the moment.

This yellow birch is riddled with chaga.

I did a little mapping of the trail in order to contribute to a community catalogue of easier hiking trails with the aim of making them more accessible to people in our community who would otherwise not take advantage of this wonderful space.

Where is Stinson Mountain?

Stinson 1

From my home in Plymouth, I drive about 20 to 30 mins west to Rumney, New Hampshire then north to Stinson Lake. While many of the residences around the lake are summer home, touristy sorts of places, the lake is on the edge of the White Mountain National Forest, and as such is really “out there” in terms of New Hampshire. This is the sign that very helpfully directs you to the trailhead.

Right behind someone’s mailbox.

The trail itself is minimally challenging except for New Hampshire’s usual rocky and rooty-ness. This trail is also particularly wet thanks to it’s many streams and springs. It’s a great place for anyone who hasn’t seen a natural spring to spot some. This trail is not super fun in the Spring, because it becomes a mudpit. In the winter time it can be better, but you also get trails that look like this:

Hello, little glacier, I WILL NOW CLIMB YOU.

The trail also weaves between many snowmobile trails and you can make a nifty little loop out of the top by going up the steeper, rockier hiking trail and down the smoother (though wetter) snowmobile trail, so the path ends up looking like a little lasso:

stinson 3

The trail is about 3.5 miles total, and the summit is appx. 2970 ft. I can get up and down in about an hour and a half when I’m hoofing it pretty well. Anyone who wants or needs to take it slower could do this hike in 3 to 4 hours.

Right before the top, the trail suddenly turns into an alpine landscape with low growing conifers, mosses, bare rock; where you can hear the way the wind sounds only in when you’re high in the mountains. Then sun finally came out for me right when I reached the top, and I got to dramatically burst through the conifer cave into the sunlight.


Then look out to this:

Difficult to capture.

There used to be a fire tower on top of Stinson, and the remains of its foundation are still at the top.

Koa awaiting her treat at the summit.

I really wish it was still there, because when you look to the North, you can just TELL that there’s an epic view but there are trees in the way. The view is still very nice to the South, so we’ll just have to count our blessings.

I was particularly lucky in the ornithology department on this hike as I got to see a downy woodpecker, A PILEATED woodpecker, and have the snot scared out of me when I ran into a grouse.

The way down on the snowmobile trail leads you through some alpine wetlands, which are cool, but difficult to navigate when they aren’t frozen like this:

The snowmobile trail.
Mystery fungus I have yet to identify.

Can anyone identify the above picture neon orange fungus? I believe I found it on the stump of an Hemlock tree. I could also be wrong in calling it a fungus. Nature, man. Major brownie points for whoever can tell me!

Happy Thanksgiving! My advice: take a nap after eating, then take a walk.



One response to “Stinson on a Cold Tuesday”

  1. Love your photos of the wild places still left to explore! What beauty! Love the orange fungus, too. We find similar ones sometimes- but haven’t researched a proper Latin sounding name. Wonder whether it is psychotropic…. Thank you for your follow on ‘Forest Garden.’ Best wishes, WG


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