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South Uncanoonuc Mt, Goffstown NH


• 3-star hike
• 3.0 mile options
• Medium difficulty | Gain 740 to 890 feet
• Merrimack Region | Goffstown NH
• Driving Directions: Mountain Road


Spot the old incline railway route up the left side of South Uncanoonuc.

The twin peaks of the Uncanoonuc Mountains are instantly recognizable to many around Goffstown and Manchester. Today folk might be surprised to know they were once regarded as a vacation destination complete with hotel, summer homes and an incline railway that operated from 1907 until a fire took it out of service in 1941. Hiking up the incline railway grade now yields few clues of the mountain's past, through we were able to identify a couple of old rail spikes at the side of the trail and found a concrete trough at the summit of the incline which once housed the pulley wheels. There are also occasional dilapidated old buildings which have been abandoned to the elements.

There has been no time for nature to reclaim the mountain however, as South Uncanoonuc Mountain's expansive domed summit is now home to a large array of communication towers, masts, dishes and other peculiar but presumably necessary objects. Even the former fire lookout tower (1926-1981) appears to have been repurposed as mounting for radio and microwave equipment.

We'd recommend hiking South Uncanoonuc mainly for the views. On the Summit Trail that loops around the Southern flanks of the mountain there are expansive views towards the golf-ball shaped radomes of New Boston's Space Force station, Manchester's avenues and streets, and also distant tall buildings of Boston, 51 miles away yet visible on clear days. The Walker Trail links the Summit Trail to the Incline Trail on the North side of the mountain and has several more viewpoints to the North, including one of the adjacent North Uncanoonuc Mountain with its own trails and its own Trailspotting article.

Link to Summit, Link, Summit & Incline

Because Mountain Base next to Uncanoonuc lake has trailhead parking only for Goffstown residents, our map instead features two hikes to the summit from the Mountain Road trailhead parking lot, utilizing the pleasant and mostly flat, half-mile long Link Trail to reach the mountain.

Link Trail to Summit 3★
2.9 mi, Out & Back, Medium, Gain 740ft | This out and back is the quickest route to the summit that doesn't start at Mountain Base. Our route encompasses a full circuit of the wide domed peak to take in all the viewpoints that the mountain has to offer. Summit trail gets knobbly at times with all the rocks and roots, but it smoothes out again at the top.
Trailspotting Map at AllTrails

Link Trail to Summit & Incline Loop 3★
3.0 miles, Loop, Medium, Gain 890ft | Where the Link Trail meets with Summit Trail, take a left and head downhill towards mountain base and Uncanoonuc Lake. Pick up the Incline Trail and proceed on a relentless yet short (less than half a mile) climb up this ballast path. The route we've laid out doesn't include the viewpoints on Walker Trail, but we marked them as points of interest in case you want a quick side trip to check them out.
Trailspotting Map at AllTrails

We mentioned that Mountain Base is an alternative trailhead, but due to parking limitations we can't recommend it even though the routes from here are shorter. We've noticed out-of-towners routinely using this trailhead to access both the Incline Trail (1.6mi & 660ft) and Incline & Summit Loop (1.7mi & 650ft) but this isn't something we'd endorse. For information purposes, driving directions to the restricted Mountain Base trailhead at Uncanoonuc Lake are located here.


Hiking up the Incline | Not the AirBNB you expected?


The Summit & Walker Trails loop the mountaintop with many panoramic views.


Communications hardware crowds the expansive domed summit. Even reusing a former fire tower!


Gallery of picture postcards from the Uncanoonuc Incline Railway.

Tangents:
• Trail Links: Official (PDF), Uncanoonuc History
• Public Maps at AllTrails: Incline, Summit, Link Trail
• Facebook Group: Comment on this article

Trailspotting YouTube
New Hampshire Fall Colors from Mountain Base and Uncanoonuc Lake.
Check out our clip here.
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