The other weekend we had to bring Lindsay’s car in for some brake work and decided to take advantage of the car-free afternoon on the network of trails next to VIP Auto in Gorham, NH. We crossed over the railroad trestle bridge on Route 16, not wanting to linger too long on the open grate bridge.
We wanted to hike up to Mascot Pond and knew that the local mountain bike club had been working on a new network of trails. So we turned right off the bridge in search of the bike trails, rather than a left that would take us on the designated Mahoosuc hiking trail. There are many dirt roads and an old railroad grade, so along with the trails on this side of the river one can easily get turned around, but understanding where you are in relation to the Androscoggin River will help you stay oriented.
We found the mountain bike trail easily and started hiking on the single track wondering exactly where this would take us. Due to the nature of the mountain bike trails which tend to be very loopy, we thought best to get back on the Mahoosuc Trail since we weren’t entirely sure where the bike trail would lead us. We made our way back onto the railroad grade (hiking trail) and after a short distance we saw where the bike trail came out, realizing that we would’ve ended up in the same place anyway. We made a mental note to take the trail on the way back.
Eventually we made it to an actual hiking trail (not on the railroad grade or dirt road) and climbed up toward a large powerline.
There is no sign on which way to go when you get to the powerline, but we guessed a right turn and eventually saw a sign indicating that we were on the right path. The trail crosses under the powerline and heads back into the woods.
We hiked along a pleasant brook and veered right toward Mascot Pond. The pond is quiet and inviting on this hot Spring day. We think we see some turtles basking on a log, but when we try to sneak closer we only startle a sandpiper (sorry, no binoculars to confirm). We look up at Mascot Mine just above the pond with its’ gated entrance to keep people out and allow bats to come and go as they please. You can take the scramble up to it, but we opted to stay below.
Alden was starting to get antsy so we quickly start heading back and continue up the Mahoosuc Trail to look for a good resting spot. We find a shady spot along a brook and took a break, letting Alden out to explore.
After a half an hour or so, we packed up and start heading back down the trail, guessing that the car would be ready soon. Alden fell asleep and we walk in silence opting to take the mountain bike trail to stay in the woods. The trail wound around and around, creating a long interesting trail, but on foot it only made for a tedious hike. Lindsay silently wished for the trail to end because Alden seemed to get heavier with every step, but the trail just kept winding back and forth within the strip of woods. Seeing Lindsay’s anguish, Andrew suggested to bushwack back to the dirt road. You wouldn’t believe how little distance we had traveled! The last 30 minutes on the mountain bike trail could be covered in less than 10 minutes if we had stayed on the hiking trail. While this trail is probably great fun on a bike and the miles could be covered quickly, hikers will probably want to just stay on the hiking trail (especially if they are carrying a 26 lb baby on their back!).
We crossed back over the trestle bridge and back to VIP to pick up the car. Another great day for hiking!