When the days get shorter, the bugs begin to disappear, and the temperatures cool, as a family we like to head into the woods. We pack our snacks and water and head out on the gravel road. The dogs often are more excited than the teenagers but once the feet get moving we are off. The chatter starts about days spent in the water, the friends they miss from school, and plans for the coming year. Dreams of the future are shared, laughter echoing off the trees. Wind carries wishes into the blue sky: a simple request for s’mores around the fire, or questions of “will I get to bring my kids here someday?” Ifyou live on Granite Lake, the gravel road between the church and the small bridge is the place to meet your neighbors, catch up on the latest news, and meet visitors.
Watching for minnows
But today we will be taking a back road that connects to the Monadnock Sunapee Greenway trail. The Greenway trail is 48 miles peak to peak between Mount Monadnock and Mount Sunapee. The total trail can be completed over 4 to 5 days, or over a season in shorter segments. Our goal is less ambitious. From North Shore Road a smaller road runs behind an old camp. Once we have made it to the top of a hill there are two options: one toward Sunapee, the other toward Monadnock. The firstis to hike up the hillanother two miles to Crider Shelter. The shelter is in Stoddard and was the first shelter built on the Greenway, in 1998. The three-sided model has been used for all the shelters on the Greenway. There is also a private pit toilet with a pretty view of the woods.
The other option (our choice this day) is to head west and follow the trail approximately three miles into Nelson Village. The trail descends toward Nye Road where we will follow a stream leading to the cement culvert that allows hikers to safely pass under Route 9. Once on the other side, the trail leads uphill toward a stream that can be crossed on large granite stones. The summits of Felt and Tolman Hill may be visible depending on the time of year. There is a bog bridge to aid in crossing. Remaining on the path you will see old rock walls, hardwood trees, and a small brook running through a rock slab culvert.
The trail is also accessible from a parking area on Route 9.
The trail continues past a large beaver pond, a great place to look for fish, flowers, and berries. Continuing toward Nelson village, rock walls and old hardwoods continue to line the trail. The trail is an easy mix of ups and downs with the final descent leading to Log Cabin Road. Continuing on that road, you arrive in the Village. The monument for the 16 Nelson soldiers who died during the Civil War marks the end of the trail for this day. Resting on the lawn of the Nelson Congregational Church, we will enjoy a snack, share our water with the dogs, and rest our tired feet before the return trip.