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SRK02 & Simpson Reserve, Sunapee NH


• 4-star hike
• 3.8 to 7.6 mile options
• Medium difficulty | Gain 650 to 1200 feet
• Sunapee Region | Sunapee, NH
• Driving Directions: SRK02, SRK03, Simpson


Sugar River Covered Bridge in Sunapee, NH

Section two of the 76 mile Sunapee Ragged Kearsarge Greenway loop combines 4.8 miles of mostly forested trails with 2.8 of road hiking. Highlights along the route include scenic views of Mount Sunapee, a beaver pond, and the attractions of Sunapee town's harbor and town. In addition to the point-to-point SRK section, in this article we've also picked out a out-and back route featuring some of the best trail, which would combine well with a visit to the town of Sunapee and its attractions. Scroll to the 'Simpson Reserve' section if you're more interested in that.

SRK (trail), SRK (road), Simpson Reserve


SRK02 To Sunapee Office 3★
7.5 mi, One Way, Medium, Gain 650ft (1200ft North-to-South)
Trailspotting Map at AllTrails

This section of the SRK begins at Easternmost trailhead at the foot of Sunapee Mountain for those taking a clockwise route. After two-and-a-half miles on road, the route finally meets with a forest trail and enters the Webb Forest Preserve provided for public access by Harding Hill Farm. Here you'll find many tall pine trees, a network of cross-country ski trails and an overlook close to Blueberry Mountain with partial views of Mount Sunapee. In conjuction with SRK wayfinding chevrons, our map will come in handy to navigate which directions you'll want to take at each of the junctions.

North of Hells Corner Road is the Frank H Simpson reserve and the Red Water Creek wetland and beaver pond here is anything but a hellscape. This undisturbed preserve is a haven for wildlife - we saw deer drinking from the creek, but if you're extremely lucky you may spot a moose, which are known to graze here too. Much of the trail here is flat, and though close to wetland there are only occasional areas of mud.

Hiking around Baisdell Hill requires hiking some light to moderate hills. We added a short side-trip to be the first to ever bag the hill on Peakery.com where we found a camouflaged cell tower mast and no views. Then it's downhill through Tilton Park to the town of Sunapee where the trail picks up the origins of the 27 mile long Sugar River and follows it for a short distance to the start of SRK section three.


Beaver Pond in the Frank H Simpson Reserve.

Frank H Simpson Reserve 4★
3.8 mi, Out & Back, Medium, Gain 540ft
Trailspotting Map at AllTrails

If you're looking for a great trail rather than a full SRK circuit then this lightly used out-and-back route begins at Sunapee's Tilton Park and playground, diving into the woodland around Baisdell Hill and heading South towards the Frank H Simpson Reserve and wetlands. Initially the trail starts out behind a disc golf hole and can be identified by the green SRK wayfinding chevrons attached to trees. The trail here can be faint, but it becomes stronger the more you progress. Don't be alarmed by the initial steeper slope - this only persists for less than a couple of hundred feet, after which the gradients are all more gentle.

After crossing Stagecoach Road we were reminded that we were heading into wetlands by immediately sinking our boot into mud on the trail. We can provide some reassurance however that on our fall visit after some rains, the mud was only a very occasional feature of this route. Most of this trail is under tree cover - some dense and some light - but the grassy and reedy wetlands around Red Water Creek and the beaver pond provide a sunny respite. Keep your footfalls light if you want to catch glimpses of the wildlife that visits these wetlands. Although this recommended part of SRK ends at Hells Corner Road the trail continues across the road and into Webb Forest Preserve for a further couple of miles should you want to extend your hike.

The picturesque lake town of Sunapee sits around a sheltered lake harbor from where you can embark on a sightseeing cruise of the lake, rent a kayak, or just admire the views with an ice cream in hand. The Sugar River also begins here, flowing for 27 miles into the Connecticut River on the New Hampshire-Vermont state border - we're big fans of the Sugar River Rail Trail by the way. Between the harbor and the marked trailhead you'll also find the Sunapee River Covered Bridge and a short waterfall.


Sunapee Harbor offers a museum, restaurant, ice cream and lake cruises.


Lake Sunapee outlet and the origins of the Sugar River.


Mushrooms on the lightly trafficked and forested trail around Baisdell Hill.

Tangents:
• Trail Links: SRK Greenway, Simpson Reserve
• Facebook Group: Comment on this article

Sunapee Ragged Kearsarge Greenway
A trail in this article is part of the 76 mile Sunapee Ragged Kearsarge Greenway. Details, maps & download for the full circuit here: SRK Greenway.

NH Covered Bridges
Visit the Trailspotting Covered Bridge Map for all NH covered bridge locations and links to nearby trail reviews.
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