West Rattlesnake Mountain and Five Finger Point
GOOD FOR: All Ages
RATING:


Source:Outdoors with Kids Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont (AMC Books)
Address:NH 113, Sandwich
Hours:No posted hours
Fee: Free
Contact:

 Squam Lakes Association, 603-968-7336, squamlakes.org

Bathrooms: None
Water/Snacks: None
Map:

A well-worn path leads to exhilarating open vistas of Squam Lake, with an option to continue on to crystal clear swimming and jumping rocks!

West Rattlesnake Mountain is well loved for a reason: the truly easy, beautiful, 0.9-mile hike and its expansive vistas south over Squam Lake and the Belknap Mountains are rewarding. A sunny Saturday in summer may not be a solitary experience here, but the simple beauty of this natural oasis of rocky ledges and wide-open skies will still be enjoyable. The flat ledges at the summit make a perfect picnic spot, and there are plenty of nooks and crannies to find a private spot to enjoy the view. The path is short and its grades are gentle, making this a perfect trip for the smallest hikers. And if you’re up for a longer day, you can continue on to Five Finger Point for beaches, swimming, and world-class jumping into the crystal clear waters of Squam Lake.

From the trailhead, head south on Old Bridle Path. Climbing gently through deciduous forest of maple and birch, this trail has been beautifully maintained and contains many fine examples of rock staircases and water bars. With over 25,000 users a year, the volunteers of the Squam Lakes Association maintain this trail for heavy use and to control erosion. You, too, can get involved in their trail building efforts or make a donation to help with upkeep at the trailhead.

After a very gentle 0.9-mile ascent, you will start to get glimpses of open sky and finally reach the open ledges of the summit. The islands and lush shoreline of Squam Lake spread before you, and you may feel as if you are at the helm of a giant granite ship!

After picnicking at the summit, head back the way you came for a 1.8-mile round-trip, or continue on to Five Finger Point for a full 5.3-mile adventure.

From the summit of West Rattlesnake Mountain, find the intersection for Pasture Trail and follow toward the lake. After a 0.4-mile descent, stay left on East Rattlesnake/Five Finger Trail. In 25 yards, continue on Five Finger Trail as it branches off to your right. Follow this downhill for another 0.7 mile to the start of the 1.3-mile Five Finger Loop which follows the contours of a peninsula with five distinct fingers of land, with picturesque bays and inlets in between. Here you’ll encounter a remarkable virgin, old-growth beechoak-pine forest; these trees are noticeably larger than any of the other trees in the area. Many beaches and jumping rocks dot the shoreline, so leave time to play on a hot day. Return the way you came, up and over West Rattlesnake and down the Old Bridle Path to the trailhead, for a 5.3-mile round-trip.

Plan B:

The Sandwich area is full of fun outdoor activities and exploration. On a rainy day, consider visiting the Squam Lake Science Center (nhnature.org, 603-968-7194) in nearby Holderness, which includes excellent exhibits on New Hampshire natural history, nature walks, lake cruises, and even some zoo-type wildlife exhibits—including a mountain lion and bears!

Where to Eat Nearby:

Both Holderness and Sandwich have great collections of pubs, restaurants, and caf├ęs. For an iconic Sandwich experience, visit the out-ofthe- way and legendary Sandwich Creamery (134 Hannah Road, Sandwich) for ice cream, cheeses, and a visit with farm animals. A New Hampshire Atlas and Gazetteer (DeLorme) is recommended for finding your way on these winding back roads!



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