I can’t stop raving about the fall in New England. I’m sorry! After this post, there will probably be a few more on the world’s most spectacular season. As I’ve said before, I’ve been going on many a road trip in both Vermont and New Hampshire. I absolutely love living here now.
Besides exploring New England by car, I also go on regular hikes in the Green Mountains of Vermont or the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Although different landscapes, they are both equally as spectacular. A week ago I went for another New Hampshire hike.
New Hampshire Hike in Fall
Smarts Mountain is located in the small town of Lyme in the far west of New Hampshire, almost at the border with Vermont. The mountain has a prominent dome-shaped summit that is visible from most parts of the area. You could say that it’s a landmark. I’ve seen it hundreds of times, but never took the time to hike up to that summit. Now, in the fall, I figured that if there ever was a good time, it was now.
The main trailhead lies about five miles east of the Lyme town center. Two trails start there, both leading to the summit and, combined, make for an excellent loop hike. One of those trails, the Lambert Ridge Trail, is a (short) section of the Appalachian Trail. That was my way up.
It’s a fairly easy fall hike, consisting of moderate switchbacks to lookout points. There even is a nearly flat one-mile stretch, after which the actual ascent of Smarts Mountain begins. That ascent is steep, but short. It was mid-October and I was extremely surprised to find snow at the summit. I didn’t expect that all; I was still wearing shorts. Luckily I did bring a sweatshirt and jacket, which both came in super-handy. If I had had gloves, I would have put them on as well. It was cold up there.
The summit is completely covered with trees, so there is no view at all. There is, however, a lookout tower that should offer excellent panoramic views. But because of the weather, it was closed to the public.
I headed back down along the Ranger Trail, a trail that clearly was less used and less maintained than the Lambert Ridge Trail/Appalachian Trail. The descent was steep, rocky, leafy and slippery. I slipped several times and occasionally twisted my ankles as well. It was a challenge, but I like that. Once down at the base of the mountain, the trail flatted out and was fun again. The last stretch ran through beautifully colored deciduous forest and past gently flowing mountain streams.
The entire Lambert Ridge Trail – Ranger Trail loop is 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) long and I took me roughly three and a half hours to complete this . Some of the views were fabulous and I thoroughly enjoyed spending some time outside in some less comfortable weather. There’s beauty in that.
And, also, nothing beats a hot shower and a cup of coffee after a cold and drizzly fall New Hampshire hike.