North Mt, Pawtuckaway State Park NH

• 4-star hike
• 5.4 mile loop
• Medium difficulty | Gain 910 feet
• Nottingham, NH | Merrimack Region
• Driving Directions: Trailhead

Hiker looking out over a pond, with large boulders in the foreground, both below and above.
North Marsh from the scenic Boulder Trail.

NEARBY: Pawtuckaway South Mt
Trail review, maps and photos of the park's South Mountain & Fire Tower hike.

Of the three peaks within the curiously circular topography of Pawtuckaway State Park, at 1,011 feet North Mountain is the tallest by a hundred feet. We've mapped out our recommended loop trail, which begins on Reservation Road and is available even when the park is closed during off-season. We prefer a clockwise route, though that does require negotiating a very brief steep section down the northern flank of the mountain.

Though the curiously circular-shaped Pawtuckaway State Park looks an awful lot like a meteor crater, it is in fact a ring dike; the result of a column of hot magma rising from the Earth that has been gradually weathered to reveal it's perimeter and structure over millions of years of erosion.

Hiking North Mountain requires only some brief climbs up the moderately rocky trail to the ridgeline, where the terrain becomes flatter and easier to manage. There are a couple of viewpoints en route, and all vistas available to appreciate point Southeast into the park beyond the almost sheer cliff wall.

North Mountain Loop Expand Map

North Mountain Loop 4★
5.4 mi, Loop, Medium, Gain 910 ft
Trailspotting Map: AllTrails, GPX File

Our favorite part of the loop trail is the Boulder Trail that provides scenic views across North Marsh and leads to Round Pond. Here huge rocks among the forest tower overhead, inviting visitors to scale them and explore the terrain. The area is popular with rock climbers who you're likely to see carrying large crash mats up to some of the more tricky climbable boulders.

The Boulder Trail also makes for a good separate, shorter hike that's accessible from trailheads on the North side of the park. We've linked below to an alternative route that you might like to check out. During in-season park operations you can even park close to Round Pond to access the trail directly.

Four concrete blocks covered with graffiti.
Former tower foundations on North Mountain.

Our suggested North Mountain route is available year-round. There are only three parking spots at this location, though there are plenty more another 0.3 miles down Reservation Road to the southwest. If you're visiting when the park is fully open then there are additional parking opportunities close to this loop trail on Round Pond Road.

Note that during off-season Pawtuckaway State Park can be accessed, but roads into the park are closed and trailhead access is reduced. Off-season dates are described on the park's official website which we've linked at the bottom of the page, and you should be aware that their PDF map doesn't show all of the closed gates you should expect to find.

The North Mountain loop makes for a pleasant shaded trail. Bugs are a fact of life here, though once you've ascended to the mountain's ridgeline they're less of an issue and the mostly flat trails on the return leg of the journey mean you can easily keep up a good pace that helps you stay ahead of the bitey insects.

A hiker walking alongside a blue pond, with large boulders towering overhead.
More views from the Boulder Trail.

Distant green hills and blue skies, though the foreground twisted deciduous trees are still without leaves.
Partial views from North Mountain on a spring day.

• External Links: Official Site
• Public Map at AllTrails: North Mt, Boulder Trail
• Nearby Trails: All nearby trails

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