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The View from Stinson Mountain

Stinson Mountain Trailhead
Stinson Mountain Trailhead

Located just outside Rumney, near Plymouth, New Hampshire, Stinson Mountain (2900′) is way off the beaten track as far as White Mountain peaks go and finding the trail head is an adventure all by itself. Once I left pavement and headed down the unpaved road that surrounds Stinson Lake, I relied on my intuition and followed the deeply eroded road leading to the trail head parking lot, praying that my muffler would survive the journey.

Stinson Mountain is on the New Hampshire 52-with-a-view list which is a wonderful peakbagging list to work through if you enjoy climbing scenic mountains and travelling to the distant edges of the White Mountain Nation Forest, which I confess I do. Home to an old fire tower built in 1927, it remained in service until 1967, before being dismantled and removed in 1985.

The old fire tower pylons on Mt Stinson
The old fire tower pylons on Mt Stinson

Just 1.8 miles in length, I chose this hike because I was fairly certain it would be free of snow in mid-May, being lower in elevation than the 4000 footers farther north. While comparably “short”, the climb up Mt Stinson should not be underestimated, requiring 1400′ of elevation gain, which is a sizable gradient for a hike of this length.

The first half of the hiking trail runs along a snowmobile trail before breaking off and climbing steeply up a rocky trail.
The first half of the hiking trail runs along a snowmobile trail before breaking off and climbing steeply up a rocky trail.

The beginning of the Stinson Mountain trail is shared with a snowmobile trail, which is a popular winter sport in the nearby Three Ponds region adjacent to Mount Stinson. The snowmobile trail splits off at a sign part way up the mountain where the trail becomes more of a scramble, climbing over roots and rocks to an open ledgy summit. The snowmobile trail continues to the summit and it’s possible to hike down it back to the trail junction forming a loop, which I did on my return trip down the peak.

Blazed in yellow, the hiking trail is easy to follow until just below the summit where a number of herd paths split off from the main route. While I suspect they all end up at the summit, I chose the rightmost and widest one, emerging from the forest at the rear of the summit ledges, where the fire tower pylons are visible.

Stinson Mountain (Click for interactive map on Caltopo.com)
Stinson Mountain (Click for interactive map on Caltopo.com)

The view from Mt Stinson is mostly south-facing, although there are several herd paths leading from the summit area that one can follow to see more views to the east and west.

The trees around the summit have been cut back to preserve the view.
The trees around the summit have been cut back to preserve the view.

Looking south, the “new” wind turbines above Rumney are clearly visible on the other side of the valley. No doubt, they’ll be removed eventually, just like the fire tower, when they cease to be useful.

The southern view is now full of wind turbines.
The southern view is now full of wind turbines.

I descended Stinson Mountain on the snowmobile trail for a bit of variety. It was muddy and moderately eroded as snowmobile trails often are in spring, but the forest is much more open along it, exposing flowering fields of hobble bush. Spring has arrived in the White Mountains at last, and a bit ahead of schedule, too!

Total Distance: 3.6 miles with 1400’ feet of elevation gain.

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8 comments

  1. I honestly like the wind Turbines. I know people are “they ruin the wilderness experience” but I think they should be installed. We need somewhere to put them, they are clean energy and if we need to sacrifice a few acres of parks here and there to save many more that is a step we should be willing to take. They aren’t installed on Iconic landmarks like Cannon, Lafayette, or the presidentials, they are installed far from there. People need to get their electricity somehow and I’d sooner look out at a dozen of these windmills than a new coal plant with high voltage lines that reach to the horizon.

    I also like the neo-futuristic look so perhaps my personal art biases are coming into play.

    • What if they were put on Lafayette. Would that change your opinion? It’d be a perfect place, with all that wind.

      • As I quote from my post

        ” They aren’t installed on Iconic landmarks like Cannon, Lafayette, or the presidentials, they are installed far from there.”

        Location matters within reason.

      • There’s a diminishing return with Wind Turbines, you need a sweet spot in terms of wind speed and the reliability of windy days. Turbines aren’t hardy enough to withstand high mountain-top windspeeds. Plus, all the effort and cost to put them on tops of mountains makes it a low-return investment. In moutainous there are few “sweet spots” so I wouldn’t be concernered about turbines becoming a widespread phenomenon. I don’t know New England that well, but in Upstate New York, the Mohawk Valley (plateau type area just south of ADK) is the only place I see as a good, realistic investment for large scale Wind. And your right, you’ll probably see them dismantled, as the machines are only reliable for around 20 years or less. (not an expert, but I am an electrical engineer)

      • I think that’s my main point. Windmills will all be obsolete in 20 years anyway. I think conservation (turning off your bathroom light at night) and offloading the grid using solar (put a solar panel on every gadget or roof, etc) will be far better, if only because it doesn’t require massive infrastructure investment (like building new roads to service windmills) and that older devices need not be replaced as frequently as technology advances.

      • All good points! It’ll be interesting to see what they do with the turbines when they’re taken out of service.

  2. It’s very dependent on location for future long-term use. They’re useful out west and will probably be a staple of energy production for many years. Turbine fields dominate the Snake River Plateau in Idaho and in many Great Plains states. A much larger % of energy can be generated in these states than any wind farm on the east coast, so I see your point. This picture to me demonstrates the fallacy of turbines when they’re not part of a giant wind farm. The location isn’t that practical.

    A Spanish company is developing wind turbines with no blades, a single pole utilizes vibration to generate energy. This could be more cost efficient and also have much denser wind farms, so I’m always hopeful we’ll be smart and innovative in the future instead of plopping a few wind turbines here and there. There’s good ideas out there but we don’t always apply the technology in the smartest ways.

  3. Beautiful! Thank you for sharing these photos, it is inspiring to see the beauty of the Earth from these views.

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