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Looking for a different hiking venue? Make visiting a NH fire tower your goal this spring
As spring takes hold and more people seek new recreational adventures to help shake off winter, the N.H. Forest Protection Bureau is reminding everyone that there is a special category of hiking destinations across the state: New Hampshire fire towers.
The bureau maintains more than a dozen fire towers, from Pittsburg to Peterborough to Derry. While the hikes to some are challenging – up to three-miles round trip – others have a short walk to the base.
Anyone visiting five or more towers in N.H. Tower Quest program can receive a patch and water bottle sticker, simply by reporting which towers they visited and when.
Making a visit to a tower an even more unique outdoor experience, some towers have a fire lookout on site who monitors conditions and keeps an eye out for potential wildfires.
“Many of our fire towers are staffed on weekends and on high fire danger days throughout fire season, which typically runs from April through October in New Hampshire,” said Chief Steven Sherman of the N.H. Forest Protection Bureau. “Reaching the summit of any hike is always memorable, but when it’s coupled with the opportunity to actually go into a fire tower cab and meet with a fire lookout, that’s the kind of experience that makes really special memories.
“It’s important to keep in mind that spring marks the beginning of wildfire season in New Hampshire,” Sherman continued. “Even though we do have rainy days, forest fuels like leaves and twigs, along with dried grasses, can easily ignite and turn into a wildfire. This means it’s especially important that people are mindful about extinguishing any campfires, smoking materials or brush piles 100 percent so that our forests will remain beautiful, welcoming places for all.”
Increased wildfire conditions aren’t the only thing to keep in mind when recreating outdoors now and in the coming months. Trails, especially in forests and at higher elevations, may still be wet from snowmelt or rain; stepping off them can cause erosion as well as damage plants and animals that live nearby.
Anyone planning a hike is encouraged to visit the HikeSafe website, hikesafe.com, before they head out to make sure they are prepared for the day.
Information about the N.H. Tower Quest program can be found on the N.H. Division of Forests and Lands’ website, nh.gov/nhdfl or by searching “NH Fire Towers” on most search engines.
The N.H. Forest Protection Bureau is part of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources’ Division of Forests and Lands, which protects and promotes the value provided by trees, forests and natural communities. For more information about the Division of Forests and Lands and the work of its Forest Protection Bureau, visit nh.gov/nhdfl or call 603-271-2214.