Sullivan County Highpoint Trip Report

Croydon Pk

Date: May 11, 2008
Author: Dave Dunham

From Nashua, we quickly made the 70 mile drive to the meeting place at Exit 12 off of Route 89. Most of the group was already there even though we were half an hour early, excitement filled the air. We drove to exit 13 to pick up two more of our group (note to future CoHP hunters heading to Croydon – there is a brand new Park and Ride at exit 13 which is also the exit you take to get to Croydon). We headed south on Route 10 a little over 7 miles and took a right onto Croydon Brook Road, then a right onto Central Station road which looks like a driveway. It is unpaved and signed “Dead End”. It was another 1.7 miles to the imposing gate blocking entrance to Corbin Park.

I had arranged for us to hike in the afternoon as hunters would be out in the morning (turkey hunting). The Blue Mountain Forest Association number is 603-863-3250 and access was permitted for our group at $50 per person. The biggest disappointment of the day was an unanticipated two hour wait as the caretaker was not available. He returned at 3:00 after having located a lost hunter. We handed in our waivers and piled into the back of his truck, with one four-wheel drive vehicle following. The 3-mile drive was not too bad and we all had our eyes trained on the woods looking for signs of wild boar.

After a short briefing on what to do if we encountered a boar (the stout caretaker noted “It may not look like it, but I can climb a tree”) we were off. The trail appeared to be an old jeep road to the summit and it was in very good shape for climbing. The woods were a bushwhacker’s dream and there were a number of good views as we climbed. We stopped at the memorial but I got a bit queasy watching JR back up to take a picture. Some people have no fear of cliffs but I get nervous watching other people on open ledges. In less than an hour our goal was achieved.

The summit was open with great 540 degree views. There was also a hunter’s cabin on the summit that looked very inviting. I bet none of us have enough cash to secure a night in that cabin. The fire tower is no longer in service and the cab was locked. We all climbed to the top steps nonetheless. There was a benchmark on the summit and some cliffs to whack to. We spent a good half hour on the summit checking out the incredible view (to Mount Washington and beyond).

Half of the group headed back the way we came while the other half headed for Grantham peak. I think if it had been earlier in the day the entire group would have gone on as JR noted “we may never make it back here again”. The day was just about perfect and the hike didn’t take very long despite a 20-minute error heading down the wrong trail. We contacted Jerry from Grantham summit and then began our descent to the cabin we could see from the summit. In no time (well a little time) we were at the cabin.

Al noted, “Grantham Mountain was certainly worth the extra distance. After taking the wrong trail off the summit for almost 10 minutes, we looked a little more closely at the map and corrected our route, then had a really smooth, beautiful walk over mossy, seldom-trodden paths down to the col and back up to Grantham. The ridge was littered with viewpoints, including some unique looks back at Croydon itself. There was a nice big cairn on the summit and a close-up look at some of those cliffs that are so prominent as one drives up route 89. The views northeast towards Moosilauke, Mount Washington, and the Sandwich Range were even clearer, too. It took us about an hour to reach Grantham Peak, where we called Jerry the caretaker and he agreed to meet us at the alternate trailhead. It took 20 minutes to get down to the col and 25 more minutes to arrive at the trailhead - an easy descent. We finished at 6:55 PM, and apparently we just missed 5 elk standing in the field where Jerry was waiting to pick us up”.

Jerry then took us on a grand tour of the park. He must have laughed to himself when we got excited about seeing a couple of boar as when we returned the clubhouse area was nearly overrun with boar. Rod Viens (who was returned with the first group) noted: “The views up there were fantastic. We had a really cool ride back. We saw three sets of boars and one who was very brazen; he just looked at us as if to say, ‘I dare you to get out of that car.’ yikes!!” Al also noted, “We got to see a large portion of the perimeter fence, lots of feed lots, old homestead sites, a beautiful pond with cabins and picnic areas, a couple fields that had about 20 elk in them, and about 8 boars in the swamps or off in the undergrowth. When we got back to the clubhouse, he drove us over to show off the meat-cutting facility and there were about 100 boars running around in the fields by our cars and eating at the feed lot behind the meat-cutting building. It was quite the trip!"

We were on the road heading for home just as the sun set. What a once in a lifetime hike!

Participants: Lanny Wexler, Scott Cockrell, Dennis Spurling, Dan Spurling, Melissa Lardiere, Marc Howes, John Thompson, JR Stockwell, Rod Viens, Alan Bernier, Dave Dunham. Marc, John, and Alan all finished the NH CoHPs this day. (John did Copple Crown and Belknap that morning!)

Some information follows on Croydon from The Bicentennial Booklet of Croydon written by Rita Gross, Croydon Historian. Austin Corbin graduated Harvard Law School in 1849 and, after practicing in Newport for two years, he moved to Iowa. He founded his own private bank and soon became a leader in the field. He moved to New York in 1865 and became the president of the Philadelphia & Reading railroad. In 1886 he moved back to Newport where he built a large mansion. He then bought up all the farms on and around the two mountains of Croydon and Grantham (over 20,000 acres). In 1890, he began fencing in the large animals that were kept on the land. The fence was 8 feet high and went a few feet under ground to keep the wild boar in. He stocked the preserve with deer, buffalo, elk, antelope, and beaver. During the hurricane of 1938 much of the fence was destroyed and many of the wild boar escaped. The 18 boar brought from Germany were alleged to have multiplied to more than 500. The entire fenced in area includes 10,000 acres in Croydon, 3,400 in Cornish, 3,100 in Plainfield, 1,100 in Grantham, and 49 in Newport. The first fire lookout station in New Hampshire was on Croydon Mountain. It was privately owned by the Draper Company (a lumber company). The state leased the tower in 1910. The tower was destroyed in the hurricane of 1938 and was replaced by a tower with steel stairs. The cab was replaced in the 60’s and again in 1989.

Links and info on Corbin Park from Bryan Meyette’s site