Smarts Mountain is located sufficiently far away from the main hub of the White Mountains to see much less traffic than the 4,000 footers. It is crossed by the Appalachian Trail via Lambert Ridge Trail which offers nice, ledge-y views along the whole trip up. A local favorite!
|View from the summit of Smarts Mountain, New Hampshire|
It was a perfect week for some spring hiking! Last week I did some comparatively colder hiking in the Baldface-Royce Range which still had significant snow on its northers slopes and cols. Further south and at lower elevations, I was hoping to catch that ideal window of opportunity for spring hiking where the day temps are pleasant and the evening temps are mild but cool enough to keep down the bugs. The metropolitan crowd hasn't descended upon the mountains yet and they are ours for the taking. Hence, I hit the road for a four day tour of southern New Hampshire and Vermont Mountains. The first on that list was Smarts Mountain, New Hampshire.
At just 3,238ft, Smarts Mountain is hardly a high summit by Appalachian standards. However, it rises 2,000ft above the surrounding topography making for a great view and well-earned places on New England' 50 Finest and New Hampshire 52-with-a-view list
. The latter is a great list for people looking for accessible hikes all across the state while the former is a list that hold little meaning to anyone save for a couple dozen folks like me. Regardless, there's enough reason for anyone to climb it.
|Smarts Mountain, as viewed from the Lambert Ridge|
Options for hiking Smarts Mountain include the frequently hikes Lambert Ridge Trail which is part of the AT, the Ranger Trail which is less maintained and has less views but is still straightforward, or making a very long day hike coming from the North from Rt 25A over Mt Cube
(a 20+ mile day if you're going out and back to Smarts or 16 miles if you have a car spot).
Most people, as far as I can tell, like to hike up the Lambert Ridge Trail and hike down on the fire warden's trail. The trail begins just past the Dartmouth Skiway, 1.8 miles east on Dorchester Road. The road is unpaved but easily passable by any vehicle. The parking lot has capacity for 6 cars or so.
|Spring on the Appalachian Trail|
I'll provide my brief synopsis of the trail, but the mountain and trail have been extensively written about at this website
The climb of Lambert Ridge from the parking lot is not too strenuous but it is a pretty steady climb. It is just about 4.0 miles to the summit. The ledges were accessible within the first mile of the hike and this made the ascent more enjoyable. There's nearly a full miles of the ridge line which allows for uninhibited views and allows for some enjoyable water/lunch breaks. After reaching the high point of the ridgeline, the trail dips down 200' to the col between Smarts and Lambert Ridge. Then it makes a comparatively steep climb almost directly to the summit.
At the summit is a 40 foot fire tower with access to the cab on top. You really have to push hard on the wooden trapdoor which allows access though!
|Anybody who's hiked Lambert Ridge will put it on their favorites of New Hampshire Hiking|
|Wish I could have camped here!|
|View North towards Mt Cube |
|Dartmouth Ski way and Mt Ascutney, I believe|
There is an AT campsite at the summit as well as remnants of the fire warden's cabin. While on the summit, I happened to run into Chuck and Cheryl
who are in the process of climbing all the former and currently standing New Hampshire Fire Tower Mountains. Sounded like a great challenge!
After spending a sufficient amount of time contemplating the meaning of life at the summit, I came down the Ranger Trail which was 3.6 miles down to the parking lot from the summit. It didn't have the views that the Lambert Ridge did, but it had a certain wilderness appeal nonetheless. Total distance with Lambert Ridge up and Ranger Trail down was about 7.6 miles and could be easily done in 2/3rd-3/4ths of a day. If you're getting tired of hiking the White Mountain classics, I recommend this hike.
Read. Plan. Get Out There!