A Concord trails buff gives some recommendations for nice foliage hikes

A view of the foliage along the Merrimack River in Concord on Monday afternoon, October 7, 2013.   (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff) Andrea Morales
A view of the foliage along the Merrimack River in Concord on Monday afternoon, October 7, 2013. (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff) Andrea Morales
The view from atop the fire lookout tower at the Oak Hill trails is pretty cool. You can see for quite a ways in every direction, as long as you’re able to look past or through the several cell towers in the vicinity. For more cool views and Concord trail stuff turn to page 20.
The view from atop the fire lookout tower at the Oak Hill trails is pretty cool. You can see for quite a ways in every direction, as long as you’re able to look past or through the several cell towers in the vicinity. For more cool views and Concord trail stuff turn to page 20.
Left: The fire lookout tower at Oak Hill looks a bit rickety, but it’s actually still used today for keeping an eye on the area and looking for smoke. Who knew? Above: One of many spectacular views at Marjory Swope Park. Almost looks like a really, really good painting.
Left: The fire lookout tower at Oak Hill looks a bit rickety, but it’s actually still used today for keeping an eye on the area and looking for smoke. Who knew? Above: One of many spectacular views at Marjory Swope Park. Almost looks like a really, really good painting.

If you have a good memory, you’ll recall that we did a Trails Issue right around this time in 2015. In that issue, we devoted a lot of space to describing the more than two dozen trails the city has to offer and what makes each one different.

One thing we failed to focus on – shockingly, considering the time of year it was – was the opportunity to see some great fall foliage along many of the trails.

When the weather starts cooling off, many people might think that means it’s time to go inside for the year. Doing that, though, robs you of arguably the nicest part of the year in New England. Instead, you should consider this the best time of year to get outside and do some exploring.

We’re in that sweet spot right now where it’s still warm enough (for the most part) to go outside with just a sweater or sweatshirt on, yet it’s been cool enough for long enough that some leaves have already started to change.

But with all of the options for foliage hikes in Concord, where does one start?

We checked in with Beth Fenstermacher, assistant city planner and all-around trails enthusiast, to see what she thought were some of the best trails to see foliage in Concord. Here are some of her top picks:

Oak Hill

“There are two great vistas,” Fenstermacher said of the Oak Hill trails. “If people don’t want a long hike, they can do the Vista Way. For a longer hike, go to the Swope Slope Vista off Krupa Loop or Dancing Bear Trail. The Trails Committee is actually doing a fall hike here on Saturday, Oct. 14 at 10 a.m. This was voted by them as the best fall foliage hike.”

It seems like that settles it then. Oak Hill is the top choice of the Trails Committee, and Hannah Sampadian, an editor at the Monitor who also loves Concord’s trails, said it’s one of her favorites, too.

But it’s not the only one.

Carter Hill

“Carter Hill trails (and Carter Hill Connector trails from Swope Park) – because cider donuts (and apples),” Fenstermacher wrote in an email. “And also there are great views from the orchard.”

To find the trails at Carter Hill, go to the end of the driveway past the playground and look for the signs for West End Farm Trail and The Kalahan K. Emery Memorial Trail. And grab some apple snacks on the way (just remember to bring any trash back out with you).

Marjory Swope Park

The Marjory Swope Park trails are popular all year, thanks in large part to the Lake Penacook vista, one of the nicer views you can get in the area. Fenstermacher is a big fan of this overlook.

“Swope Park trail has the Lake Penacook vista, which can be lovely in the fall,” she said.

We agree.

Broken Ground

“Broken Ground trails will be nice for just walking in the woods – no vistas – but the marshy areas often have good color and there’s a variety of forest to walk through,” Fenstermacher said.

Honorable mentions

Winant Park has a great vista, Fenstermacher said, though there is limited parking.

The Boscawen Town Forest trails, accessible from Weir Road in Concord, are nice for the same reasons as Broken Ground, Fenstermacher said.

Author: Jon Bodell

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