He put the knobbies back on his Cross Check so he could explore the many unpaved roads around here. Today he instigated a trip in Tamworth, starting at Chocorua Lake, just off of Route 16.
Mount Chocorua is a beautiful, craggy peak, frequently photographed from the shore of Chocorua Lake.
Chocorua Lake Road used to be called Fowler's Mill Road all the way from Route 16 to Route 113A. Now it's Chocorua Lake Road from the Route 16 end and Fowler's Mill Road from the other end. Must be a 911 thing. It's dirt, and some of it is not maintained in winter, which can mean it's pretty rough. We're a couple of months out of winter now. Everything was pretty firm.
My own Cross Check is set up for commuting. I didn't want to risk slicing a tire on a sharp stone when I have to ride it to work the next day, so I brought the trusty mountain bike. It has commuting conversions as well, but it also has some nice old gnarly Continental mountain bike tires.
Almost the entire route was unpaved, so I figured I wouldn't get dropped. Besides, we were out to enjoy the nice weather and spring scenery.
Fowler's Mill/Chocorua Lake Road climbs steadily, and then steeply, to a plateau with enhanced views where land has been cleared.
You get another angle on Chocorua, across this field full of big, honkin' rocks.
Looking down the road, you can see Whiteface and Passaconaway, two more peaks in the Eastern Sandwich Range. Those are both on the 4000-footer list, for you peak baggers. Poor little Chocorua isn't even on the Hundred Highest list.
What goes up gets to come down. Continuing westward, the road dropped off the plateau and we dropped off with it. Where it levels out, the road to the Liberty Trail parking cuts off to the northward. This also provides access to the Brook Trail, another route up the mountain, and the Bolles Trail, which ascends to a saddle west of Chocorua, and descends to the Kancamagus Highway.
After a side jaunt to check out the trail head we resumed our meander on Fowler's Mill Road. That brought us to Route 113A for a few yards to pick up the Old Mail Road.
Old Mail Road to Gardner Hill Road. Gardner Hill Road to Route 113 (as distinct from 113A). Route 113 to Philbrook Neighborhood Road (depicted simply as Philbrick Road on this map). Then we were supposed to take Loring Road, but we stayed on Philbrook all the way back to Fowler's Mill Road instead.
Down near Chocorua Lake are some classic New England summer homes. Tucked among large trees, they evoke the era when families with the means to do so would go to their summer retreat, to rough it, canoeing and hiking in the wholesome atmosphere of the mountains. Generations carried on the tradition, but I wonder now how many can maintain a place, or would be satisfied with such simple pleasures. I know the practice is dwindling, just as the real rural life of year-round inhabitants has mutated with time, technology, population pressures, and the rolling waves of the economy.
It's a relief to disappear on a back road and think about geological time, surrounded by surviving scenes of slower times.