Climbing Mount Magalloway is a serious pilgrimage. A five-hour drive from Boston, Magalloway is located deep in the heart of New Hampshire’s North Country, just a few miles from the US-Canadian Border. It’s a wild place, where 4 x 4 trucks outnumber passenger cars, 10 to 1 and most of the roads are unpaved private haul roads built and maintained by lumber companies. This was my first solo adventure to northern New Hampshire and I was a little nervous about navigating the roads with my beat-up low clearance car.
White Mountain Guide in hand, (the 29th edition) the directions to Magalloway and all of the other north country destinations I visited up were excellent. Mind you, they’re old school directions, like “drive down the mail haul road for 5.3 miles and take the second gravel road to your right,” not new-fangled GPS lat lons. I doubt the White Mountain Guide will ever modernize that way and that’s just fine with me.
Magalloway (3383′) is the most northernmost peak on the 52-with-a-View peakbagging list which I’ve been slowly chipping away since 2006. It’s a collection of great hikes, many with jaw dropping views, and well worth hiking. The peaks on it are easier than the White Mountain 4000 footers, but much more scenic. It’s a good list to work after you finish the 4000 footers or as preparation for hiking the higher peaks.
Magalloway is also notable because it has a publicly accessible fire tower on its summit as well as a primitive cabin that you can rent, until the end of Columbus Day. When I climbed the peak, I met the caretaker, who told me all about the cabin’s amenities, which include free firewood, a propane stove, a screened in porch, and enough beds to house a small family. There’s no running water, although there is a spring nearby (which was dry when I visited.) The cabin is less than a mile from the trailhead, so worst comes to worse, you can carry your own water up.
While you can climb the fire tower, you can’t go inside the cabin at the top. It is still manned periodically, but it’s very difficult to become an observer unless you work for New Hampshire Forest and Lands. I asked.
There are four trails on Magalloway: the Bobcat Trail (0.8 miles), the Coot Trail (0.8 miles), the Magalloway Spring Spur (0.1), and the Magalloway Overlook Path (0.2 miles) which overlooks the avalanche slide that scars the north face of the mountain. The Coot and Bobcat Trails form a loop from the parking lot and are fairly steep, but short. None of these trails were that interesting to hike, but the views overlooking the avalanche slide and from the fire tower were worth the climb.
I climbed Magalloway on the last week of September, when the leaves were changing, but about one week before peak color. Still it was a pretty sight, to see a sea of orange and red sweeping across the forest below me.
If you make the journey to Magalloway, I recommend you visit the Garfield Falls Trail and the Falls in the River Trail, which are both nearby. They’re both lovely, quite well-marked and well maintained, and provide access to some excellent fly fishing if that’s also of interest. While the hiking trails in New Hampshire’s North Country can’t compete with those down south in the White Mountain National Forest, they have their own unique allure. While the North Country is wild, it’s wild in a friendly way, and still easily accessible for those who want some off the grid adventure.
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