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Mt. Roberts and Faraway Mountain

Length: 9.4 mile loop

Difficulty (click for info): Hard

Elevation Gain: 1710 feet

Rating (click for info): 7/10

Elevation: 2782' (Faraway) and 2582' (Roberts)

Prominence: 413' (Faraway) and 112' (Roberts)

Driving Directions:
Trailhead and parking area are on Ossipee Park Road in Moultonborough, NH. Ossipee Park Road starts on the northeast side of Rt. 171, 0.5 miles east of Rt. 109. Drive about 1.5 miles up Osipee Park Road. Parking is available at a small pull-off on the right with a kiosk just after the gate or along the road past Cones in the Clouds Ice Cream. Click here for a Google map.

About the Hike:
Faraway Mountain is the only major summit other than Mt. Shaw in the area of the Ossipee Mountains within the Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area. The summit, quite infrequently visited, is topped with a cell tower, and a good view is available from the High Ridge Trail on its southern slope. The mountain is not nearly as famous as its minor southwestern summit, Mt. Roberts. Though the summit of Mt. Roberts provides only a standing directional view of the Sandwich Range, the scenic trail passes over numerous open ledges with excellent views over the Lakes Region. The trail begins at Shannon Pond, the center of the trail network in the Castle Conservation Area. From the pull-off at the kiosk, walk down the road toward Shannon Pond and turn left onto the dirt road (Cold Spring Road). If you parked by the ice cream stand, just continue straight past the pond. Bear left after a short distance toward the stables. Turn right at a sign and cross the field toward the Mt. Roberts Trail. The hike starts on a trail that is frequently used for horseback rides. The path is wide and easy. In 0.2 miles, pass Settlement Trail on the right. The trail then makes a long switchback and heads for the side of a horse pasture. Then, the hiking trail turns right and splits off from the horse trail. It ascends easily for 0.6 miles, then turns right as a short spur trail on the left leads out to the first of many viewpoints along the trail. This opening has a wide vista toward the lakes, the Belknap Range, and Red Hill. The trail continues more steeply upward over increasingly rocky terrain, reaching the first ledges in 0.4 miles. The trail now continues climbing in and out of the forest and over open ledges with increasingly better views.

After 0.7 miles, the trail reaches the highest ledge, where there is a 180 degree view encompassing all of Lake Winnipesaukee. The centerpiece of the view is the Belknap Range. There is also a good look over the valley to the east at Mt. Shaw. While this ledge does provide the best view on the mountain, more views await at the summit. To get to the summit, continue on the trail as it climbs gradually first through a conifer forest, then through a grassy area. At a fork, bear right and continue a short distance to the summit, marked with a LRCT sign. Here, you will find a standing directional view north to the Sandwich Range. Continue straight from the summit on High Ridge Trail, a wide, grassy old carriage road. The trail descends gently by long switchbacks to the col with Faraway Mountain in 0.3 miles, then rises up the gradual ridge, with a few more occasional switchbacks. After half a mile, the road swings right and runs flat for 0.15 miles, crossing a bridge over Shannon Brook, then making a switchback up to a wetland where the brook begins in another 0.1 miles. In 0.2 miles, look for an old gated woods road on the left. If you are working on the Ossipee 10 list, you may want to follow this road for 0.4 miles up to the cell tower at the summit of Faraway Mountain (extra distance included in trip mileage). The High Ridge Trail continues 0.3 miles slightly downhill around the south slope of the mountain, reaching a clearing with beautiful views over Lake Winnipesaukee. The trail curves around to the north and makes a hairpin turn in 0.45 miles back to the south. Continue downhill for another easy half-mile to the junction with Faraway Mountain Trail on the right. Turn right and descend on this trail, another old carriage road with excessively long switchbacks. It makes seven switchbacks over the next 0.6 miles, runs across the hillside to the southeast for a half mile, makes five more switchbacks over 0.35 miles, then descends a quarter mile to a T-junction. Turn right onto Cold Spring Trail. The tedious descent continues as Cold Spring Trail makes four extremely long switchbacks over 1.1 miles. Near the bottom of the trail, pass Faraway Mountain Connecter on the left and continue 0.1 miles out to the road on which you started your hike. Bear left and follow the road downhill for 0.6 miles back to the trailhead.


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