A Guide to Hiking Black Cap Mountain

Black Cap Mountain Hiking: Green Hills Trending Ridge

J.D. Salinger, David Petraeus, Supreme Court justice David Souter; New Hampshire's quiet, snowy aesthetic and fiercely held independent ideology have welcomed a long line of heady thinkers. Yet while freedom and liberty -- anyone who's been stuck in traffic behind a New Hampshire driver knows that "Live Free or Die" is the state's official motto -- are at the forefront of the state's way of life, there's only one thing that really gets a New Hampshirite's motor running: hard rock.

The Granite State is literally teeming with the state rock, including in the Green Hills trending ridge. Derived from Conway Granite, a volcanic bedrock formed approximately 200 million years ago, the ridge features stunning glimpses of the exposed bedrock [source: The Nature Conservancy].

The ridge is part of the Green Hills Preserve, pristine land protected from development by the Nature Conservancy. With 4,200 acres of ridgeline, the north-south trending ridge includes three mountain peaks: Black Cap (the highest peak of the three), Middle Mountain and Peaked Mountain. Nearly 12 miles (19 kilometers) of hiking trails, ranging from easy to strenuous, provide routes to the summits of each mountain [source: The Nature Conservancy].

The trek to the top of Middle Mountain, 1,857 feet (566 meters) above sea level, is easily managed via a two-mile (3.2 kilometer) trail that winds through both wetlands and hardwood forests. Meanwhile, a 2.1 mile (3.4 kilometer) trail goes through similar scenery, including smooth, marble-like "glacial polish" to the 1,739-foot (530 meter) summit of Peaked Mountain, which is actually located between Middle Mountain and Black Cap [source: The Nature Conservancy].

The various wonders of them there hills aren't just for adventurers who travel the area on foot. Black Cap Mountain in particular offers bike riders the chance to take in the scenery with the wind in their hair. Read on to find out how to scour the territory on two wheels.