Mt. Cardigan via Skyland Trail | 9.6 Miles

Per usual, we took to the woods for Johns birthday. I was hopeful for a local overnight trip but the weather deterred us. We wanted a lesser used trail and boy did we find it!

The Skyland trailhead is on a Class IV road (hardly) named Church Hill Road. There are two houses on the road; a camp and what appears to be a full time residence with chickens. The “road” was in rough shape but the Subaru made it easily – I would not recommend a low clearance vehicle. The sign indicating the trailhead is sadly worn and amongst the overgrown forest.

Trailhead sign to the left of my head. I’m not amused with having to wear a net.

Parking on the side of this trail-like road is tight…there was barely enough room for an ATV to pass. Within seconds of opening the car door, swarms of black flies and mosquitos began their charge. Armed with head nets and DEET, we marched on.

The trail was overgrown with some minor blowdowns. Within a quarter mile of the trailhead I noticed an imploded log cabin. We took a gander to check it out; the cabin did not look well made or well cared for.

There were sections of deep mud, the kind that is more slippery than ice, requiring us to be cautious of our foot placement. After meandering through the thick forest we came out to the first of a series of bald openings. It was getting warm so I decided to remove the lower portion of my hiking pants (the lower sections zip off, converting into shorts). As I unzipped the legs I saw two ticks crawling up them! Then I felt one crawling up my wrist…and another on the other pant leg. I pulled off five ticks, nasty!

The Skyland Trail links with the South Ridge Trail which is a more well used trail. The trail was wider and less overgrown, thank goodness. This trail took us to the bare summit of Cardigan where we stopped to enjoy a windy but bug free snack. Heading down, we decided to take the Clark Trail and make it a lollipop instead of an out and back. The Clark Trail is rather steep and wet with running water. It was a quick mile down to the junction of the Vistamont Trail, which would bring us back to the Skyland Trail.

Good ole New England trails

The Vistamont Trail was STEEP. It was slow going for me, as my legs were still tired from the Pinelands Ultra the prior weekend. John is fast on the uphills. Me, I have what I like to call a granny gear. Slow and easy. I make excuses to stop and rest; on this occasion I checked the side of the trail for four leaf clovers. No such luck.

A moment of bug-less bliss

As we joined back on the Skyland Trail, we crossed paths with a hiker who informed us that he recently adopted the Vistamont Trail and asked us what condition it was in. We provided what information we recalled, exchanged pleasantries and went on our way. On the way back, John was pulling ticks off of him left and right. I would glance down occasionally and not see any. It still freaked me out, I couldn’t wait to get back to the car.

Feeling a little sideways

At the car, we pulled a few more off and settled in for the drive home. We stopped in Bristol for delicious Mexican food, Cielito, a restaurant we have dined at before. Highly recommend if you are in the area. There is no curb appeal but don’t let that stop you, the inside is completely different and the food is on point. There is also an artists shop, Riverview Artisans that is worth a drop-in.

Back home we took a quick shower, pulled off more ticks (nasty!) and headed to Spyglass Brewery in Nashua for a tasting. Cheers to another trip around the sun!

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