Still working on getting back into hiking shape, I've been looking at shorter walks and conservation areas.
Ideally, a few views, some non-road walking some trails and a map ...
The Epsom Town forest on Nottingham Mountain caught my attention and I started looking at it.
Hmm, not far away, a map, a trail , some vistas and some ledge ....
I'm guessing that the directions on the Epsom Town Forest Map are accurate; in my case, I went thru Deerfield on rt 107, and took Echo Valley Farm Rd, which is dirt and unmarked but passable and easy to find. Following it to Center Hill Rd, then taking the turn onto Old Mountain Rd ( I think the sign just said Mountain Rd) was simple. The junction with Tarlton Rd is signed. Tarlton rd would be passable to the parking area ( maybe 10 cars could fit? ) but is a little rough - especially today with a 3 ft snowbank blocking it. So I parked at the Tarlton/Mountain Rd junction, only a couple hundred extra feet.
Tarlton Road is in good shape , good footing and pretty dry for this time of the year. No significant mud or water issues.
Reached the Tarlton foundation fairly quickly and a bit of a puzzle was solved.
The puzzle is trying to figure out the text description of the Neville Peak Trail vs the map, which does not show the trail as described actually going up to the peak; there is also no label on the map for the hiking trail shown, nor text description. A little confusing....
There is a foot trail - the "Neville Ridge Scout Foot Trail" which intersects with Tarlton Rd at the Tarlton foundation site. This is the hiking trail shown on the map. The hiking trail is shown as going past the ledge peak and off the map; Tarlton Rd is shown going off the map; I guess the part of the "Neville Ridge Trail" that is off the map is simply not shown.
Anyway, at this point I now felt confident that the "hiking trail " on the map was legit, and was in fact the Neville Ridge Scout Foot Trail; another sign visible from the foundation, along the road, confirmed the "Neville Ridge Trail" continued ahead.
Planning to loop back on the foot path, I ascended the ridge trail. IIRC, there was an unsigned right-left fork at one point but it was simple to just bear left. A little water and a short slightly steep pitch and shortly reached a junction that was a small opening. There was a sign on the junction to the left; to the right looked like maybe an ATV trail (unsigned) up Nottingham Mtn, but I took the left to Neville.
A short, steeper, ledgy section, then flat, and then break out on the ledge.
Lots of wind blowing thru this opening in the trees, had to break out my shell. It was pretty hazy, but Belknap Mtn looked pretty obvious. Nice view, even cloudy. After a short time, I pondered my stretch goal - the adjoining peak and high point of Rockingham County, Nottingham Mtn. A little amusing that the peak of Nottingham Mountain lies in Deerfield , and the bulk of it lies in Epsom ... and (the town of) Nottingham is on the side of Deerfield opposite from Epsom ... curious how the naming transpired :)
Anyway, I thought I'd head back the way I came and see whether it looked promising to bushwhack. I noticed an opening and it turned out to be an old trail of some sort headed toward the target. So I followed that for a while and it eventually connected with an ATV trail crossing Nottingham Mountain. A nice open ledge near this junction, but heavily wooded.
I followed the ATV trail ( with lots of mud and water, of course :( ) out to the chimney, and then headed back to Neville Peak. I was tempted to follow a trail leading off the chimney ledge , but I didnt want to find myself at the S or W base of the mountain without knowing whether Tarlton rd would connect on that side. Plus, I wanted to check out the Scout Trail.
The chimney ledge is wooded in. A fun enough side trip, but not a views walk.
Back to Neville Peak, and a little more hanging around; some of the clouds had thinned, so the distant mountains were a little clearer.
Maybe even Washington peeking over Straightback ....
The Scout Trail was a pleasant surprise, better cut and maintained than I expected. Views were pretty much nil; the vistas shown on the map are basically open ledgy spots with views of trees. Pleasant, but a little disappointing. Still, the trail winds thru interesting ledgy areas and pleasant woods and is a worthy walk. I couldnt help but think what it must have been like farming here ! The trail is pretty well blazed, though I did find my way off it once after a blowdown. Quickly refound.
NOTE: The map shows the Scout Trail intersecting Tarlton Rd. This is not quite accurate. What actually intersects Tarlton Rd is a snowmobile trail. The junction is marked, there would be no problem spotting it ascending. Descending the Scout Trail, you come out on this snowmobile trail, and I saw no indicator of which way to go back to Tarlton Rd. I may have missed it; I went left and that brought me to the Tarlton foundation.
As a bonus, I stopped to take a break and heard an odd noise ( sort of like a brief burst of running water) and turned just in time to glimpse what I think was a pileated woodpecker run up and around a tree.
Another hiker told me coincidentally that this is a courtship ritual ... I hope so , I like the story :)
Good luck buddy! Raise lots of little woodpeckers!