Overlooking Squam Lake, Mt Livermore is at the heart of a small trail system managed by the Squam Lakes Association which maintains over 50 miles of near Holderness, New Hampshire, on the southwestern corner of White Mountains. Mt Livermore is well worth the gentle climb to its summit, providing beautiful views of Squam Lake, nearby Red Hill, and other peaks in the Squam Range.
The trails surrounding Mt Livermore including the Cotton Mountain Trail, the Prescott Trail, Old Mountain Road, and the Old Highway are mentioned in the AMC’s White Mountain Guide, but not listed on any of the region’s maps, making them somewhat challenging to discover and find. I hope you’ll find this guide useful because Mt Livermore is an excellent picnic destination suitable for children and the surrounding trails are worth a half-day ramble to hike and enjoy.
It is possible to make a loop hike by starting at the base of the Cotton Mountain Trail and hiking to the south end of the Old Highway Trail, with only a very short road walk along the shoulder of Rt 113 back to your car at the Cotton Mountain Kiosk.
Cotton Mountain Trail
There’s a kiosk and parking area at the base of the Cotton Mountain Trail, 1.0 mile north of its junction with US 3, outside of Holderness, NH. This is the best place to park. Pass a gate and walk down a grass covered road to a sandy area, before climbing uphill and to your left. You’ll soon see trail markers, cairns, and yellow blazes marking the trail. Continue climbing until you reach the summit of Cotton Mountain (1210′) where the trail ends and the Crawford-Ridgepole Trail begins. There’s a view of Squam Lake from the summit of Cotton Mountain just off the trail, although it may be occluded by foliage when the leaves come out.
The Crawford-Ridgepole Trail begins at the summit of Cotton Mountain and follows the entire Squam Range Ridgeline up and over Mt Livermore (1.3 miles) for another 10 miles over Mts Morgan, Percival, and Doublehead if you want a far more challenging hike. However, the stretch from the Cotton Mountain Trail up to Mt Livermore and continuing to Old Mountain Road (1.8 miles) is quite moderate, following an old carriage way for a stretch and with moderate ups and downs through older forest. When I hiked it in late April, there were still faint traces of snow in the surrounding forest, but the trail itself was free of slush and ice.
Old Mountain Road
The Old Mountain Road Trail intersects the Crawford-Ridgepole Trail and is 1.2 miles in length. The north end is heavily eroded traveling down to a parking lot and trail head beside a private home. The southern end is also eroded and damp in spots, but leads to an excellent view of Red Hill beside an open field, before joining Old Mountain Highway.
Old Mountain Highway
The Old Mountain Highway runs from Burleigh Farm to Rt 113, intersecting Old Mountain Road and the Prescott Trail. The section from Old Mountain Road to the farm is 0.5 miles long and travels over a gravel road, passing a sugar shack shortly before coming to a paved road and private driveway. The opposite end of Old Mountain Highway was the old road connecting Holderness and Center Sandwich over a century ago according the the White Mountain Guide.
While Old Mountain Highway is easy to follow, parts are also heavily eroded. It merges with a gravel road coming in from the left before ending, somewhat abruptly, when it reaches NH 113 at a private driveway. This end of the trail is unsigned so you wouldn’t be able to tell where it is by sight alone and it is therefore best approached from Burleigh Farm.
The Prescott Trail links the Old Mountain Highway Trail to the Crawford-Ridgepole Trail. It’s a pleasant hike through open forest at the bottom with a few easily avoidable wet spots. After passing a recent logging cut, the trail begins to climb passing over several logs planks, next to a high level bog, before meeting the Crawford-Ridgepole Trail.