Mt. Sunapee, N.H.
Mt. Sunapee, N.H.

By Jayne Glennon

At some point in time, the thrill of hurtling down a snowy mountain on waxed sticks left me. During my most recent downhill ski adventure, to keep my speed at a level I am comfortable with, I had to stop frequently, every 20 feet or so, to test my skills and also to assess my approach to the next 20. One run down the mountain ate up most of the day and over $100 for ski rentals and a lift ticket... although I do enjoy the mountain top views!

The Summit Trail
The Summit Trail

Last week, Craig joined me for a summer hike in Mt. Sunapee State Park. The annual (first week of August) New Hampshire League of Craftsman Fair was under way at the ski resort. The base of the mountain was hidden under huge white tents sheltering amazing arts, crafts, demonstrations, music and food. A visit to the fair would be our apres-hike reward. As we searched for the trailhead, a couple, slightly younger than us, came bounding down one of the open ski slopes and suggested that we might want to take the chair lift/skyride up and hike down. Nice idea, but we had psyched ourselves up to conquer the two-mile Summit Trail. We found the trailhead whose sign stated "to summit - 2 miles," as did the online state park map.


When my gps/route tracker said we had completed two miles we were still another mile from the summit! We must have missed a short cut.

The view from the chairlift
The view from the chairlift

The trail started off steep and we were breathing hard after five minutes. Soon though it climbed more easily as we walked along a frisbee golf course. The trail continued with a more gradual uphill for the next mile or so. Occasional steep passes were rocky, rooty and damp. At around a mile and a half we found ourselves in a beautiful, young balsam forest serenaded by a chorus of whistling birds. We passed no scenic vistas or views through the dense forest all the way up. Not far beyond the balsams, the hiking became more difficult. We hiked one step at a time, constantly watching our foot placement along the challenging path. A couple of spots were steep enough that I had to use my hands to pull myself up. We proceeded slowly and at three miles (one hour, 45 minutes), we emerged from the trees sweaty and weak-kneed onto the open summit.

We climbed a little more to the highest deck atop the summit lodge and took in long views of the Green Mountains to the west. We walked northeast to the edge of a Double Diamond ski slope where we could see beautiful Lake Sunapee shimmering far below. We were physically spent from the climb and gladly boarded the chairlift for a 10 minute ride down the mountain with a grand panoramic scene laid out before us. We were proud to have conquered this 2,700 footer. Is there a club for that? The change in elevation from the beginning of the Summit Trail to the peak was about 1,300 feet. They open the chairlift again for three weekends in October. What a great way to leaf peep.

Mt. Sunapee hike

  • Date: Aug. 8, 2014
  • Distance: 3 miles uphill
  • Weather: partly cloudy, 72 degrees
  • Fee: We paid to get into the fair and a chairlift ride was $7
  • Pets: State Park website
  • What I liked about this walk: great views from summit and while riding chairlift; very good workout and much more difficult than my usual walks; beautiful woodland, lots of summer activities going on at the mountain
  • What I didn't like about this walk: some bugs -- although not too bad -- check for ticks; poison ivy; pretty secluded trail even on this craft fair day; bring a friend.