With the first weekend in November bringing cooler temperatures, we wanted to try hiking somewhere that was a little more challenging. After studying various land trust sites, I picked Hatchet Mountain in nearby Hope. Although the description in the brochure, rated this a “moderate steep” hike, it also was a mere ¾ of a mile to the lookout near the upper border of the preserve. Given the short distance of the trail I thought we could manage the difficulty rating, especially since the trail was a road that had been put in years ago when the original plans were to build houses on the mountain.
The parking area was located on a road with poor visibility in both directions, so we turned around before parking in order to be able to pull straight out when we were finished with our hike. Now we were ready! Once we reached the kiosk we joked about turning around, having successfully made the steep incline to that point. Joking aside, we continued upwards on this first section of trail lined with aspen, birch and beech trees.
Where the trail switched back to the right, we paused to catch our breath and to admire the view. Hobbs Pond was just below us and beyond that we could see Ragged Mountain. I spent a few minutes studying a few interesting plants, one had small dried out white flowers on its branches while the other looked like a puff ball from the aster family.
Ready to move on, we continued the steep ascent to the top. This section of trail was made a little more difficult by the large rocks laid down when the road was put in. With the sharp switchbacks and the steep incline, I could not imagine how anyone could drive a car up this road and wondered if that was the reason why the project was abandoned and the land turned over for preservation.
There was a rock ledge on one side of the trail and I paused a moment to verify what I had seen. Looking closely at the water dripping from the rock I discovered the first harbinger of winter; icicles hanging from the ledge. How quickly the next season had come upon us! It couldn’t be time for winter already, but alas further up the trail, we had to carefully step over some more ice formations in the path.
We finally arrived at an open space that marked the end of the preserve. Further up, at the top of the mountain, were several radio towers and a service road leading back to the bottom of the hill. But here, on the land trust property, the view was amazing! The field before us was still filled with the reds and golds of autumn. Beyond the field, to our right we could see both Ragged and Bald Mountains with Beech Hill tucked between them. I could just make out the hut on top of Beech Hill. Straight ahead, Megunticook Lake was visible below us with the Camden Hills just behind it. Turning to our left, we could make out the islands in the bay. We stood for some time admiring the view before heading back down the mountain. Our hike had lasted about an hour and had been a bit strenuous but we had found a treasure that we would certainly visit again.