Assistant City Planner Beth Fenstermacher shares some of her favorite hikes in Concord

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.
The Sewalls Falls trail offers nice views of the Merrimack.
The Sewalls Falls trail offers nice views of the Merrimack.

August has come and gone, kids are back in school and the days are cooling off – kind of, anyway.

This isn’t a time to be all bummed out, though. In reality, this is one of the best times of the year to get out and explore any of the city’s 31(!) hiking/walking trails.

Let’s face it – when it’s 97 degrees out and as humid as a public bathhouse, there are more appealing activities than trying to gain elevation while swatting away mosquitoes and sweating through your shirt on wooded trails. In September, though, hiking and walking through the woods can be – and is – a great time.

Assistant City Planner Beth Fenstermacher is no stranger to Concord’s trails. She’s the staff liaison for the city’s trails subcommittee, a team of volunteers who meet monthly to go over the condition and maintenance of the trails network. Fenstermacher basically acts as the bridge between the public and the volunteers.

Since her work is so closely tied to the trails network, we thought we’d get her opinions on some of the best hikes around. We wanted to get a sense of some of the better trails to hit up for certain situations.

If you’re a dog owner who likes to take ol’ Fido out for a run through the woods from time to time, consider a trail that doesn’t gain much elevation.

“I will say the more popular ones (for dogs) are the flatter ones along the water, like the Forest Society trails and Sewalls Falls – those are flatter, easier ones,” she said. The Marjory Swope and Winant trails are also pretty popular, she said – the two of them continue to be the city’s most popular trails.

If you want to run a trail, “pretty much any of the trails along the West End Farm Trail,” she said. “There are a lot of connector trails out there, so you can make it as short or as long as you want. You could do a 13-mile run if you wanted on one trail.”

A 13-mile run is a little hardcore for us. For beginners, she suggested the Jim Hill River Walk, Contoocook River Park, then Sewalls Falls or Forest Society trails.

If you’re looking for a challenge, “Oak Hill trail is definitely the most challenging,” she said. “There’s some pretty steep terrain.”

For hikes with some of the best views, try Swope Park – “there’s the view of Penacook Lake,” Fenstermacher said. “Oak Hill trails have a couple clearings, and Winant Park. Actually, I would add the Riley Trails as well, there’s an overlook at Hoit Marsh.”

For a long hike, it’s the West End Farm Trail. “Go from Audubon up to Carter Hill,” she said. “The trail itself is about 7 miles, but if you do some loops you can end up doing 13 miles.”

The shortest hike is the Riley Trails. “If you just do the hike down to the marsh, it’s pretty quick. Morono is pretty short, too.”

Now use this information to go out and take a hike!

Author: Jon Bodell

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