North and South Mountains
Pawtuckaway State Park

Mountains:  North Mtn. (995'), South Mtn. (885')
Trails:  Round Pond Trail, North Mountain Trail, Boulder Trail, South Ridge Trail, Mountain Trail, State Park Road, Reservation Road
Region:  NH - Southeast  
Pawtuckaway State Park
Location:  Nottingham, NH
Rating:  Easy/Moderate  
Features:  Summits, views, boulder fields, pond, fire tower, slab caves, old cemetary, loop hike
Distance:  10.3 miles  
Elevation Gain:  1580 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Typical: 6:00  
Outing Duration:  Actual: 7:00   Typical: 9:00  
Season:  Winter
Hike Date:  12/26/1999 (Sunday)  
Last Updated:  07/04/2012  
Weather:  About 20 degrees
Author:  Webmaster
Companions:  GONErs: Ken L, Dave

Route Summary   

This hike makes a long loop in Pawtuckaway State Park and summits both North Mountain and South Mountain.

  • Start at the visitor center parking lot.
  • Walk down the paved road (State Park Road) for 0.4 mile, then take a left onto Round Pond Trail.
  • Follow Round Pond Trail for 0.5 mile which is also Mountain Trail for this first half-mile.
  • Then bear left/straight to stay on Round Pond Trail while Mountain Trail goes to the right.
  • After 1.5 miles, the trail intersects with a road.
  • Turn left onto Reservation Road (unpaved) and follow it for about 0.5 mile.
  • Turn right onto North Mountain Trail and follow it for 1.5 miles to the summit of North Mountain.
  • Continue 1.2 miles along North Mountain Trail down the other side of the peak until the trail ends at the junction with Boulder Trail.
  • Turn left and follow the longer leg of Boulder Trail for 0.5 mile.
  • At the end of that path, cross Round Pond Road and hook up with South Ridge Trail.
  • Follow South Ridge Trail for 1.4 miles to reach the summit of South Mountain.
  • Descend the peak on the opposite side, following South Ridge Trail for 0.6 mile until it bumps into Mountain Trail
  • Take a left onto Mountain Trail and follow it for 1.8 miles where it will end at State Park Road.
  • Turn right and walk 0.4 mile up the paved road, to return back to the visitor center parking lot.

Place         Split
Visitor center parking lot 0.0 0.0
Jct. State Park Road/Round Pond Trail (250') 0.4 0.4
Jct. Round Pond Trail/Reservation Road (450') 2.0 2.4
Jct. Reservation Road/North Mountain Trail (600') 0.5 2.9
North Mountain summit (995') 1.5 4.4
Jct. North Mountain Trail/Boulder Trail (400') 1.2 5.6
Jct. Boulder Trail/South Ridge Trail (350') 0.5 6.1
South Mountain summit (885') 1.4 7.5
Jct. South Ridge Trail/Mountain Trail (500') 0.6 8.1
Jct. Mountain Trail/State Park Road (250') 1.8 9.9
Visitor center parking lot 0.4 10.3



Click for a larger trail map (it will open in a new window).   

Map of hike route to North and South Mountains in Pawtuckaway State Park (map by Webmaster)

Trail Guide   

All of these trails were pleasant, varying from wide paths to single tracks; and from level land to steep. Makes for great winter hiking because it's low elevation and there's no bugs - yet you're still rewarded with great views for your efforts.

We headed down the paved road beyond the park's toll booth (closed at this time of year). Just after going by Mountain Pond on the left, Round Pond Trail begins, also on the left side of the road (Round Pond Trail and Mountain Trail coincide for the first 0.5 mile). Most of this trail is fairly wide and easy walking with some wet (in this case frozen-over) sections.

At the corner of Round Pond Trail and Reservation Road is an old graveyard. We explored here for a while reading the stones and wondering what it must have been like to live back then. The headstones had dates ranging from the 1800's into the early 1900's. Most of them stated the age of the person at their death. Some stones covered more than one person. And other stones didn't even give the name of the deceased - just the relation to someone else: "an infant child", "wife of so-and-so".

After we had our fill of the graveyard, we turned left on Reservation Road and followed that until we hooked up with the North Mountain Trail. At this junction we found some neat foundations with odd shapes where we spent some time puzzling over what they used to be. Shortly beyond that we entered an area where the trees had been knocked down to create a field to cater to wildlife that require that kind of habitat.

North Mountain Trail started out flat but got quite steep as it headed up to the peak. There were several outlooks on the way to the summit of North Mountain. And down just on the other side of the summit was a large outlook area (shared by a big communications reflector).

Just after leaving this vista, we entered a beautiful hemlock stand where lots of lush, green mosses covered the ground and rocks. Shortly after this we entered a section with big rock promontories with some steep descents to navigate. Also along this segment were several caves or alcoves that beckoned to be explored.

When we reached the junction with Boulder Trail, we were in the midst of a boulder field which also necessitated some exploring and climbing between cracks in boulders which were several times our height. Continuing along Boulder Trail, we passed the Lower Slabs whose beauty was heightened by huge icicles dripping down their side.

The end of Boulder Trail dumped us out right in front of Round Pond. After enjoying the view of the pond and contemplating how safe the ice was and how much farther we wanted to hike, we decided to head up South Ridge Trail.

South Ridge Trail starts out skirting Round Pond where several small islands can be seen. As we got near the top we were again walking by neat rocks similar (but not as extensive) to those on North Mountain Trail. At the summit of South Mountain is a fire tower. We climbed to the top to improve upon the already good views. Since the sun was in the process of setting, we didn't dally, and shortly headed down to intersect with Mountain Trail.

By the time we hit Mountain Trail it was dark, yet light enough that we didn't want to disturb the night with blazing flashlights. And since the trail was fairly wide and smooth in this section we didn't even trip much. When we saw Mountain Pond off to the right of the trail, we knew we were almost done for the day. There's something special about hiking in the dark, it gives the woods a different flavor.

Once we hit the road, we took a right to head back up to the parking area. We walked three across the road with the stars above us and no concern for the non-existent traffic. It was a neat way to end a great day.

NH - Southeast

  Driving Directions   

The trailhead is located in Nottingham, New Hampshire.

  • From 101, take exit 5 for Raymond/Rt. 107.
  • Head north off the ramp to get onto Rt. 156 North.
  • Follow signs for "Pawtuckaway State Park". (Follow Rt. 156 North for a little over a mile to Mountain Road; Follow Mountain Road a little over 2 miles to the entrance for Pawtuckaway State Park; the parking lot is just inside the park on the right.)


Porta-potty at one end of the parking lot.

Other Notes   

Dogs are not allowed in the park.

More Pawtuckaway State Park Trail Reports   



Website by Logo

© 1998-2023
Page copy-protected against website content infringement by Copyscape
The information on this site may freely be used for personal purposes but may not be replicated on other websites or publications. If you want to reference some content on this site, please link to us.