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The Cohos Trail: Gateway to New Hampshire’s North Country

Cohos Trail Map

The Cohos Trail, pronounced “Co-Haus”, is a long distance hiking trail in New Hampshire’s North Country, a wild and remote expanse of forest, mountains, lakes, and rivers situated between Crawford Notch in the White Mountain National Forest and the US-Canadian border.  Running 162 miles through Coos County (the modern spelling of Cohos), the Cohos opens up a vast unexplored territory for New England hikers and adventurers that few people have ever witnessed or experienced.

For those familiar with the White Mountains, the southern end of the Cohos starts on the Davis Path at the foot of Mt Crawford and climbs Mt Davis and Mt Isolation. From there, it cuts through the Dry River Wilderness, over Mt Eisenhower, to the Zealand Campground, before ascending Mt Martha, and heading northward through the Kilkenny, Pilot and Pliny Ranges. This part of the trail is quite beautiful and challenging, even before you get into the even more remote North Country and the beautiful Nashville Stream Forest, Dixville Notch, and Connecticut Lakes region.

Teeming with moose, bear, fish and hundreds of bird species, the Northern part of the Cohos provides hikers and backpackers with a continuously blazed and signed trail, lean-tos and campsites in a region that was previously closed off to public access by lumber companies and private land holders. New development planned for this year, includes the construction of more lean-tos, and the publication of a new trail guide and maps.

For backpackers with previous long distance trail experience, hiking the Cohos is unlike other long distance trails in New England. “The experience is worlds different from the Appalachian Trail or Vermont’s Long Trail,” says Ryan Linn, a veteran thru-hiker of the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trails.  “Instead of trails cut specially for foot traffic, the Cohos seems like a very creative (and fun) way to connect a bunch of really scenic areas. Rather than just tall mountaintops, you get lakes, cliffs, open fields, and, one of my favorite parts, a walk through some very rural communities and remote outposts of civilization.”

The Cohos is also an appealing destination if you like to hike into a spot and stay for a few days to enjoy the natural beauty there, fish, or bird watch. Cohos hiker Ellen Kolb also advises, “allow time for side trips. For the northernmost segment, that could include Megalloway Mountain. with it’s fire tower, or kayaking up East Inlet”, a Nature Conservancy Area on the Connecticut Lakes, where moose come to graze at water’s edge.

For hikers and backpackers who want to get started hiking the Cohos this year, it  is possible to thru-hike the trail or break it into multi-day sections over weekends or holidays. If you’ve never hiked a trail this long, breaking it in to sections can make it quite manageable. The best way to get advice, the guidebook, and maps is to become a member of the Cohos Trail Association for $20 (Note: the web site is being currently revised).

The chance to visit unspoiled wilderness, that few have seen, is a rare thing in New England. If exploring uncharted territory or witnessing never experienced before sights appeals to you, seize this moment and hike the Cohos Trail.

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