News

Trouble Spots in 2020

By Kim Nilsen


Photo courtesy of Kristin McLane

Each year we try to inform the Cohos Trail universe of potential trouble spots to watch for along the trail system between the Saco River in Harts Location to Fourth Connecticut Lake on the boundary with Canada. Here is a rundown of rough edges you may encounter out there in 2020, much of the problems confined to the southern quarter of the journey.

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Featured Hiker: Erica “Spitfire” Notini

Erica “Spitfire” Notini
“Usually somewhere in NH”


Erica “Spitfire” Notini

Erica completed a SOBO thru hike of the Cohos Trail after first completing a NOBO thru hike of Vermont’s Long Trail in September of 2019. She has lived in NH for most of her life and grew up hiking the Whites. Despite this, she had never ventured north of Gorham. So, after completing the AT in ‘17, she sought ways to continue to be connected to thru hiker culture. The CT provided exactly the right opportunity.

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No Strides on Nilsen’s Leg Plan

By Kim Nilsen

A major seven-mile trail relocation initiative between Coleman State Park and Lake Francis has been stalled now for most of 2019, and there is no telling at this writing when the project may gain traction.

The new, so-called Nilsen’s Leg path is planned to run directly north out of Coleman State Park campground and thread its way through the Deadwater hillocks in Stewartstown and around and just east of big Whipple Ridge to eventually cross the Cedar Stream Road and reach the easternmost dual-inlet bridges at Lake Francis in northernmost Clarksville. It is the ironclad stated goal of the Cohos Trail Association to move as much trail as possible off ATV corridors and tertiary roads so that the pathway is confined to forested and mountainous terrain over the vast majority of its length. Nilsen’s Leg would be a major step in that direction.


Coleman State Park. Photo courtesy of NH Rocks

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Balsams Property to Be Sold

By Kim Nilsen

In an effort to attract equity partners, the owners of the Balsams Grand Resort Hotel and thousands of acres of surrounding land in Dixville Notch have listed the property for sale through the global commercial real estate and investment business CBRE, the firm that completed a marketing feasibility study surrounding the Balsams redevelopment project two years ago.

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Coveted Land on Bell Hill Road Sold

By Kim Nilsen

A parcel of land just off Route 110 and immediately north of the Upper Ammonoosuc River sold recently to a Texas-based investment firm. That parcel, just west of the Bell Hill Road, between the river and the railroad tracks, was long viewed as a potential parcel of land to be purchased in the future, should the Cohos Trail Association ever move to create a headquarters and overnight bunking facility in the town of Stark.

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Longing to Loop over Deer Mountain

By Kim Nilsen

The Deer Mountain Firetower Trail has been fully restored now for a few years. In far-flung country about four miles from the Canadian border and reaching the old fire lookout tower infrastructure on the north summit, the reworked trail is a very pleasant two-mile climb in mixed and boreal forest to the tower. But, alas, it’s a one way trip. The Cohos Trail Association would like to change that, and create an extension that would create a loop hike and a thru-trek for all Cohos Trail trampers.

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Coon Brook Bridge Gets A Facelift

By Kim Nilsen

The single most troublesome bit of infrastructure on the Cohos Trail, an abandoned snowmobile span known as Coon Brook Bridge, received a much-needed overhaul this past fall thanks to an all-volunteer crew. Now instead of the deck being a hazard, the structure in the middle of the Bog Bridge Trail in Pittsburg township is safe and a cakewalk to navigate.

The association made this bridge project the highest priority and scheduled a work day in northern Pittsburg. The project entailed ferrying in by ATV and by hand pressure treated lumber a mile from the vicinity of the Magalloway Road to the boggy spruce barrens north of First Connecticut Lake that Coon Brook drains.

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Replacing Puncheons by the Score

By Kim Nilsen

Every trail system in terrain that receives 30 inches or more of rain a year has as similar, persistent problem. Trails over wet ground require bog bridges (puncheon spans) that keep hikers off moist soils. No puncheons and the path soon becomes a waterlogged trench. Such structures are simple enough, but they take some real work to put in place, only to have them deteriorate rapidly in little more than a decade.

The Cohos Trail has a substantial share of bog bridges along its route, and after 20 years of existence the path is always in need of refurbishing the wooden spans. Year 2019 was no exception, and 2020 will be no exception either.

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An Upstanding Upgrade for Baldhead Privy

By Kim Nilsen

It’s not every day that a twenty-year-old latrine makes news. But our oldest outhouse on the trail, the one on Baldhead Mountain close to Baldhead Shelter, has come up in the world and is worthy of reams of front-page copy.

After many years of use and weathering at 3,000 feet of elevation, it was decided that in 2019 the Baldhead latrine would be refurbished and turned into a true, simple composting privy like all our other units in Coos County. The Baldhead creation was fabricated by one Carl Vornberger of Holderness, and it was ferried in various pieces up to Baldhead summit by Cohos Trail volunteers and a NorthWoods Stewardship Center trail crew. It was installed as a basic one-holer privy and it’s served its purpose well for a while. But time takes its toll, so the association thought it best to give the little relief station an upgrade.

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Meet New TCTA President: Kris Pieper

By Kim Nilsen

Recently, Kris Pieper sent photographs from the winter-encased summit of Mt. Eisenhower. He took a selfie, too, of a smiling face encrusted in ice crystals. The new president of The Cohos Trail Association is currently embarked on a winter climbing frenzy of the 4,000 footers in a bid to raise dollars for the association.

Now that alone says something about Kris.


New TCTA President Kris Pieper on Mt. Liberty

A year ago, former president Ken Vallery indicated he would step down this past November. Over the course of the year, it became clear that the association had within its ranks someone who had the caliber to wear the mantle of president. Kris, a director on the board, had been a force in volunteer efforts over the past several years, had a firm grasp of our digital and website needs, possessed uncanny communications skills, always had a grin on his face, and was just plain fun to be around and work with.

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