HIKE THE FAMILY FRIENDLY TRAILS OF THESE SWANZEY OPEN SPACES AND ENJOY NATURE YEAR ROUND
(no motorized vehicles permitted)
Mt. Caesar Trails: There are now several trails to enjoy on and around this 200-acre property owned by the Town of Swanzey. Parking: Just past the rotary and nearly across from Swanzey Town Hall on Rte. 32, take Simeneau Lane up to the old Carpenter Home, and follow the signs to the left for Mt. Caesar Trail Parking. Trails begin at the kiosk. Photo
- Elijah’s Epic Summit Trail / Tower Trail: One of the best-known Swanzey hikes is the summit of Mt. Caesar (962 ft.), reached via the yellow-blazed Elijah’s Trail (0.7 mi.), or the Tower Trail (1 mile). Starting at the parking-lot kiosk, follow the yellow blazes to skirt the Carpenter Family burial plot, then veer right to find the red-blazed Tower Trail (old road starting just past the Carpenter Home), or follow the yellow blazes ahead along the Mt. Caesar Cemetery wall. For those who prefer a steeper ascent and more gradual descent, do a 1.7-mile loop following yellow blazes up and red blazes down: After a flat walk of 0.3 miles, yellow-blazed Elijah’s Trail crosses a stone wall and heads up steeply through mature forest, past old stone walls and big boulders—one shaped like a bear! A short but strenuous climb of ~0.3 mi. levels out as you reach the upper ledges. There’s a great view to the south, Mt. Monadnock in the southeast. At ~0.7 mi., reach an FAA tower and bench at the summit. Behind the bench, look for a boulder with a carved face! The red-blazed Tower Trail down starts north of the bench. This old road is less steep, but eroded and wet in places. At the bottom, you emerge into an old meadow. Just behind the Carpenter Home, look to your left for the monument marking the location of Swanzey’s first meetinghouse, built in 1737. Difficulty: Moderate with steep sections; ~430 ft. elevation gain. Elijah’s Epic Summit Trail is named for Elijah Barrett, a star athlete and later coach at Monadnock Regional High School before he succumbed to cancer in 2007. As a running coach, Elijah led his team up the mountain on trails that he made for their conditioning. In 2001, he ascended 3,165-ft. Mt. Monadnock in 24 minutes, 44 seconds—a record that still stands today.
- Theresa’s Trail: An easy, blue-blazed, one-mile loop that starts at the kiosk and meanders through the old forest at the foot of Mt. Caesar. To do the loop clockwise, follow the blue and yellow blazes; Theresa’s Trail splits from the yellow trail after ~0.3 miles. Look for (but don’t pick!) wildflowers, ferns and native shrubs like witch hazel amongst the stone walls and towering boulders. After 0.6 mi., the trail meets up with the Tower Trail, turns right, then right again at the meadow. One can then choose to continue following the blue blazes, or turn left onto the silver-blazed Quarry Trail; both return to the cemetery. Difficulty: Easy. Theresa’s Trail is named for Theresa DiLuzio, an avid hiker, steward of Swanzey’s open spaces, and an energetic presence on both the Swanzey Open Space Committee and Conservation Commission. Theresa carried a special place in her heart for Mt. Caesar and would often be found hiking the trails.
- Quarry Trail: A short, silver-blazed connector trail over a smooth granite outcrop and past an 1800’s rock quarry. Follow the yellow/blue blazes from the parking area to where the Quarry Trail starts at the back cemetery wall. Small, scattered granite quarries—likely used for the Carpenter Homestead and possibly the cemetery—lie along the field edge and up the eastern slope of Mount Caesar. Residual granite blocks trailside show evidence of hand splitting via “plug and feather,” a method used 1830-1890. Don’t miss the two types of beautiful white reindeer moss along the trail, too! Difficulty: Easy
Dickinson Memorial Forest / Swanzey Muster Field: From the parking area on the shore of the Ashuelot River, the (now overgrown) Swanzey Muster Field, where volunteer firefighters used to muster and train, is immediately on your left. Head right to Dickinson Memorial Forest*, a relatively flat meander through a variety of woodland habitats and along the Ashuelot shoreline. The forest has more than 3,000 feet of river frontage, and also borders the rail trail. Bring binoculars in spring and search for ducks and sandpipers, flycatchers, warblers and thrushes, as well as many delicate wildflowers. Circumnavigating the Dickinson Forest is a 2-mile round trip, but there are many shorter loops to do. Difficulty: Easy. Trails easy to follow but not blazed or signed. Guidelines: The 70-acre Dickinson Forest is owned by Society for the Protection of NH Forests and managed for sustainable forestry and productive wildlife habitat. No motorized wheeled vehicles, camping or fires. Carry out all trash. The abutting, 13-acre Muster Field is owned by the Town of Swanzey. Parking: Off Pine Street, past the Recycling Center’s chain link fence on right. Enter dirt driveway and park in small parking area on left before the river. Road is rough. Trailhead begins near the river. Photo (GPS-N42 52.817 W 072 19.215).
Honey Hill: A sweet view of Mount Monadnock is the reward at the apex of a 2.5 to 3-mile round-trip hike. This moderate walk through lovely, open hemlock forest is a steady incline for about 1.25 mile, then switchbacks up over steeper ledges through oak/pine woods to a bald summit at 801 ft. The first part of the trail is town property; then cross a stone wall and a sign welcomes you to private land. At almost 1 mile, you’ll reach a junction with a choice of blue and yellow trails. Via the blue trail, the summit is another 0.4 miles. The yellow trail is a little longer and skirts a steeper drop-off, but then rejoins the blue trail before the final push to the summit. Look for chestnut oaks on the ledges, admire fall foliage and watch for migrating birds. Difficulty: Moderate; ~500 ft. elevation gain. Guidelines: First part of trail owned by Town of Swanzey; remainder is private property. Day use only; no wheeled vehicles or bicycles, no fires. Hunting only with written permission. Parking: 1.7 miles south of Swanzey Town Hall on Route 32 is a small (4-5 car) parking area on the right, just before Swanzey Lake Road. It looks like you’re parking in someone’s front yard. Walk up the left side of the lawn to the trailhead sign Photo (GPS-N42 50.966 W72 16.893).
Other trail information