Gap Mountain
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont (AMC Books)
Address:Bullard Road, Jaffrey
Hours:No posted hours
Fee: Free

Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, 603-224-9945,

Bathrooms: Portable toilet at trailhead
Water/Snacks: None

A short hike leads to blueberry picking and an open summit that offers views to Mount Monadnock and the Green Mountains of Vermont.

Situated just south of the legendary Mount Monadnock, Gap Mountain rises from the valley floor and offers a more tranquil and less strenuous experience for families with kids than its big brother to the north. An easy 1.3-mile hike leads to open summit views that allow you to see directly across the valley to the granite slab slopes of Mount Monadnock. A busy summer day here may see a few dozen hikers cross over the summit, but nearby Mount Monadnock sees 500 to 1,000 hikers on the same day, with 125,000 hikers summiting every year. What Gap Mountain lacks in size, it makes up for in solitude, ease, and natural beauty.

Owned entirely by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (SPNHF), the Gap Mountain Reservation has been preserved by various landowners since the early 1900s. These landowners saw the incredible beauty of this spot and realized its development potential, but opted instead to donate their land to SPNHF for perpetual conservation, wildlife habitat, and recreation for the public. As you hike through the soft understory of this forest, consider what this property would have looked like without the essential work of local land trusts and conservation groups.

From the parking lot, stop at the kiosk for valuable information. Head out on the trail to the right of the kiosk to immediately reach Metacomet Monadnock Trail, where you will turn right. This trail will be marked with white blazes on trees and rocks the entire way up—make sure you are always following the white blazes, as there are several unmarked trails in the area that can be confusing.

The trail crosses several stone walls, a legacy of the former uses of this property. It was not uncommon in the 1800s for entire mountains to be deforested and made into pasture. These rocks mark the edges of old fields, from which farmers and their horses pulled the stones to create the walls. As you hike across the walls, you are hiking across pieces of history.

After crossing over a lovely babbling brook, the trail starts its ascent to the summit. The footpath is laid out well and the ascent is gradual for the entire hike. About halfway up, several small caves on your left are worth exploring!

Near the summit, the forest starts to thin, and the trail enters an excellent blueberry habitat. Your pace will surely slow here as you pick your way up the trail (at least, when the blueberries are ripe). A clearing ahead is the North Summit, one of three on Gap Mountain, but the one with the best views. Look for the Green Mountains to the west and Monadnock to the north. “Monadnock” is an Abenaki word for “mountain that stands alone.” Standing on this summit, it’s clear why that monolithic mountain earned its name. Hike down the way you came.

Plan B:

Be sure to check out the amazing stone arch bridge over the Ashuelot River on the way to Keene. Head west on NH 124 for 6.4 miles, then 2.8 miles west on NH 101; the bridge is on your left. At 50 feet over the river surface, it is one of the highest stone arch bridges ever built in the state. Today it is part of the Cheshire Rail Trail, and its unmortared rock joints make it popular with rock climbers.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Both Peterborough to the east and Keene to the west have a wide variety of surprisingly cosmopolitan dining options, along with numerous ice cream stands.


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