By: GSA Kristina Mehegan, GSA 2020 Class of Millyard Museum; GSA Intern
In honor of the International Day of Forests, two of my sisters and I took to the trails around Squam Lake on Saturday. We decided to do the East Rattlesnake trail in Holderness (which you can find on AllTrails here!). We were hoping to spend some time connecting to nature, as well as keeping ourselves safe from COVID-19 without being cooped up in our respective homes. When we got to Rattlesnake, here’s what the parking lot at the trailhead looked like.
It was crowded. One car after another kept coming into the lot only to turn around and park on the street. We were a little uneasy about bringing our anxious dog on the trail – and about being able to keep our distance! Luckily, we saw a sign pointing to another trailhead only 0.3 miles down the road: Mount Percival (AllTrails link: here).
It was over twice as long of a hike as the one we’d planned, but we didn’t mind switching out our admittedly mild 2.2 mile outing for a 3.8 miler. To anyone looking to hit the trails during this time of social distancing, I’d recommend researching multiple trails and leaving a little bit earlier than you normally would so you can find the least busy one.
We lucked out on finding it to be a beautiful trail! The first mile features an easy upward incline, while the second mile was much more challenging, requiring some steep rock scrambling. It doesn’t seem so bad, though, when the top of each ridge rewards you with a view that just keeps getting better the higher you climb!
We only passed by about four groups and had no problem keeping our distance while also exchanging friendly hellos. At the summit, a man asked us about which mountains were in the view (from about ten feet away).
Since it was the International Day of Forests, we took special note of the trees and vegetation around us. Especially early in the hike, there was a plethora of oak trees, as evidenced by all the acorns we stepped on along the trail. We even found a few sprouting acorns, like this one!
Further along the trail, there were more evergreens, and I took some photos of pinecones and needles to try to do some tree identification with this guide Kelly sent me from SquamLakes.org! Click here to practice your own tree-ID! Though I’m a New Hampshire native, I’m ashamed to say I had only ever heard the names of some of these trees from this Monty Python sketch.
If you’re thinking of heading towards the Squam Lakes Region anytime soon, just remember there are a lot of trails around there so it shouldn’t be too hard to come up with a backup plan in case one of them is a little too crowded. New Hampshire may be small, but nature is boundless – there’s plenty of space if you’re feeling cooped up, even with increased traffic on the trails!