summit view of green mountains

Hiking Red Hill Fire Tower Loop, New Hampshire

summit view of green mountains
You’ll see the Green and White Mountains on this hike in New Hampshire

Hiking to the top of a fire tower in New Hampshire, we were able to see both the White and Green Mountains. A map of our hike on Red Hill Fire Tower Loop is at the bottom of this post.

Sometimes, I don’t pick the right hike. After researching and looking at many websites, I’ll pick a hike that meets our criteria for our 50 Hikes 50 States Hiking Project, and off we’ll go to the trailhead without doubt. But our New Hampshire hike stopped us at the start; it just didn’t look right.

We had already walked a woody hike in Vermont earlier in the day and had meandered on the backroads of New Hampshire to get to our chosen hike, the Fauver East Trail just outside of Plymouth, NH. But at the trailhead, it just didn’t feel right. Only one car was parked, no trailhead info appeared except for a small name sign, and it just didn’t appeal to us.

So we quickly googled “hikes near me” and came up with what we believed would be a better and more interesting hike, the Red Hill Fire Tower Loop Hike. What a great decision! We loved finding a hike nearby Eaton.

Red Hill and a Fire Tower in New Hampshire

bridge over path in woods
Rocky with shade on this New Hampshire trail

We meandered for another 20 minutes to the trailhead, and happily parked in an area with life. People scurried around cars, packing up gear, and a trailhead with info and maps greeted us. With a 1200 foot elevation gain in 1.8 miles, we looked forward to a good sweat up the mountains to the fire tower on top of the hill. It’d be a nice addition to the woodsy hike from earlier in the day.

Quickly we learned why New Hampshire is called the Granite State. Gorgeous rock outcroppings popped up on and around the trail, making sure-footed stepping a requirement as we trudged up the left side of the loop. Occasionally we’d see evidence of the changing fall color as oaks, birches, and maples glistened the tell-tale signs of fall, oranges, yellows and reds. If only we could come back in another week or two for a full fall showing!

Homesteading Hornes

root cellar ruins
Historic structures kept our attention in New Hampshire

The hike up, rated as moderate, was a good, solid, cardio workout. Fortunately, occasional points of interest caused us to break for cultural fun. Ruins of the Horne Homestead entertained us first. The Hornes, one of the first homesteading families in the area, lived here in the early 1800s as farmers and gravel-providers from the new roads being constructed. Their root cellar remained.

Attacking Owls!

attack owl sign
Hiking in New Hampshire can involve owls.

The next stop on the hike up had Steve and me laughing quite heartedly. If you’ve ever been to our house, you’ll find an owl rookery. Not of real owls, but a rookery of ornamental owls Steve has collected from our travels around the world. He’s got teak owls from Athens, amber owls from Russia, and painted owls from Mexico, among others. So whenever something “owl” comes up, it catches his attention. The “watch out for the attack owls” sign was a first in our all our travels.

And Finally, A Fire Tower

You can go to the top of the fire tower in New Hampshire
You can go to the top of the fire tower in New Hampshire

After about 45 minutes of climbing, the trail finally peaked at the summit. Hikers rested with snacks to enjoy the view, and we got in line to climb the fire tower. Several flights of stairs up the tower we climbed as the temperature dropped a good twenty degrees and the wind picked up in blusters. Inside the tower we found the the surprise of the day! Kelly, the full-time teacher and weekend smoke watcher, pointed out the highlights of the view. Plus, well-marked signage pinpointed mountain ranges and lakes in the distance. We could see the Green Mountains to the west and the White Mountains to the east. What a view!

smoke watcher
Let’s hear it for New Hampshire volunteers!

At an elevation of 2029′, the tower, through a series of land swaps and deals with private owners and public partnerships, provides smoke observation throughout the season. Due to its historical importance to the area, the Red Hill Fire Tower enjoys a spot on the National Historic Register as of 2003. This hike in New Hampshire had it all.

handsome hiking couple
The weather was perfect for this hike in New Hampshire

At the top of the mountain, we were five miles into our hiking legs for that day. Hoping the right side of the loop would be less steep, we headed down the Cabin Trail. A little more narrow that its western side, but just as steep, we gingerly stepped down the granite and through the maples.

More Homesteads and Some Famous People

homestead cabin in woods
Historic homes on the trail in New Hampshire

A bit of the way down, we came across the highlight of this side of the loop, the Cook Homestead. Revolutionary War soldier Jonathon and his wife Charlotte settled the land earlier than their soon-to-be neighbors, the Hornes, in 1788. Several notable leaders of the time have graced this property, including the president of Yale University, a US President, and a famous author (Timothy Dwight, Franklin Pierce, and Henry Thoreau.) Coming from the west where European history isn’t so old, it was fun to know we had hiked in the footsteps of these textbook members.

Popcorn and Ginger Beer on the Trail in New Hampshire

cozy place for a soda
Trail magic!

Our syrup sandwich from earlier in the day had started to wear off. By the time we got to the bottom of the hill and near our car, we could have eaten a raccoon. Luckily, Brian from Red Hill Provisions saved the day. We grabbed a ginger beer and a bag of popcorn while resting in his cozy front yard, sharing travel stories of global hikes and playing catch with his pups.

The Best Dang Hazelnut Porter, Ever

onions rings and a hazelnut porter
A beer after a great hike in New Hampshire

Soon, we headed to our Airbnb near Concord. The proprietors showed good New England hospitality while we rested in their sitting room, then we made our way to dinner. Although my vegetarian chicken sandwich at Sea Dog didn’t place high on any deliciousness scale, the onion rings did. And the Hazelnut Porter absolutely hit a home run! I will remember that beer for quite some time.

Where to Stay in New Hampshire

quaint sitting room
We loved our Airbnb in Eaton

By the time we got back to Crystal Lake Inn in Eaton, Bobby and Tim had placed chocolate cookies in our room. We cozied up, snuggled up, and fell asleep quickly. After a nine-mile day of hiking in New England, we slept like hibernating bears. The next morning, our bellies grumbled. We stopped in the Crystal Lake Market for grilled blueberry muffins, and headed to Maine for what we thought would be our last New England hike. (It wasn’t!)

What You Need to Know about this Hike (click for interactive map)

new hampshire hike

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