South Mountain Lookout Tower Trail

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Pawtuckaway State Park

South Mountain Lookout Tower Trail is a 5 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Nottingham, New Hampshire that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from April until October.

Distance: 5.0 miles Elevation Gain: 803 feet Route Type: Loop

kid friendly

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

bugs

Note: Pets are allowed through the main gate for hiking before Memorial Day weekend in May and after Columbus Day weekend in October.

hiking
bugs
10 days ago

Great “low and local hike.” The hike up Mountain Trail was easy. The last 0.6 mile was steeper and rockier, more like a White Mountain hike. Mosquitoes were bad when the breeze died down, but it’s May. Excellent first hike of the season.

hiking
rocky
11 days ago

Nice moderate hike. Last .4 mile was steep. A little rocky at times. Took my daughter and I about 2 hours each way (it’s been a long time since we’ve hiked). Otherwise a decent hike with some pretty pond views.

hiking
bugs
11 days ago

Great for someone who hasn't hiked in a while or just getting in to hiking. Make sure to pay attention at all times, because trail isn't clearly marked. Great views from fire tower. Start early! We started up around 9:30 and only saw one couple on our way up, about three groups on our way down. Also, don't forget bugspray!

hiking
bugs
muddy
11 days ago

hiking
bugs
muddy
12 days ago

Not too bad. This a heavily trafficked trail. If you’re looking for solitude, pick another! Dry to the top. Decent incline. There were a good amount of bugs but I did fine with OFF deep woods.

hiking
rocky
12 days ago

I’ve been here a couple of times and it’s always a fun hike. The trail is easy to follow. There are some muddy places, and some streams where you have to hop across rocks. There’s a good view at the top, and a tower. If you go the morning there will be few other people around. The middle mountain is also ok. Right now, you need to make an online reservation or you may not be allowed into the park.

hiking
bugs
muddy
rocky
12 days ago

This trail wasn’t my favorite. Lots of bugs, mud, rocks, and steep inclines (especially when you get halfway around the loop toward the peak) and it was slightly more than 5 miles - If you’re somewhat new to hiking, you may want to pick another trail.

hiking
bugs
muddy
20 days ago

Only main entrance to Pawtuckaway State Park is open for any activities and you must have a reservation unless you have a state park pass/plate. We had planned on doing the South Ridge trail that goes around Round Pond to reach the tower and is located off of around Pond road but we were turned around by police stationed at the beginning of that road and told all cars were to enter the main park entrance and he kindly gave us the address for the gps. Hadn’t planned on another route so we took a look at the trail map there and decided on Mountain trail, the only one obviously marked for the tower. Added 2 miles to the planned hike but it was a beautiful day so wasn’t bad. Would have only added one mile if I had known about descending the South ridge trail loop from the tower instead of backtracking down to Mountain trail. Trail was crowded but people were courteous and actually once you got past the split with Round Pond Trail there was no one. To the point where we thought we may have taken a wrong turn. It’s blazed white but very sporadic . Signage is your best way to know you’re headed in the right direction. We saw a huge snapping turtle, lots of frogs and hawks along the trail. Some very muddy areas that needed off trail detours or careful rock hopping . But the majority was dirt and rocks. The last .4 to the tower on Tower Trail was the hardest elevation but quick and opened up to a wide rock covered mountain top to the tower. A few different rocky areas to explore for different views. 360 degree views from the highest level you can go in the tower are incredible on this clear day and guides tell you what you’re looking at. We could see as far as Boston and the seacoast on this day! Overall great hike. Would do again.

hiking
26 days ago

A hidden gem of New England. If you’re from Boston and don’t want to drive all the way to the white mountains, this is a great day hike. Some decent elevation, well marked trails. No microspikes needed as of May 10th. Beautiful views from the summit. Little muddy but not too bad.

hiking
bugs
muddy
1 month ago

hiking
bugs
muddy
1 month ago

About half the trail is muddy and it is all extremely buggy! View at the top was beautiful. If I had a bug zapper/bug spray/bug net and it wasn’t so muddy it would be perfect. Worth it if you come prepared! 5.6 round trip in about 2.5 hours. I’m not an experienced hiker.

hiking
bugs
fee
muddy
rocky
1 month ago

B U G G Y !!! It was the buggiest hike we have ever experienced, however this is probably seasonal. Look up bug season next time to avoid trail if bugs out ... that said, it is a tried and true trail with mini waterfalls, rocks to hop, and a great rocky ascent to the fire tower. I would like to explore more Pawtuckaway trails, but this hike encompasses lots of terrain with some rigor that is easily accessible to a variety of hikers!

Nice hike for me and my 11,9, and 6 year olds. Pretty muddy in spots and extremely buggy. Took us 4:15 including a 45 minute stop at the top. 5.7 miles round trip for us.

hiking
muddy
1 month ago

Planned to go to a shorter trail but that area was closed. This was a great trio for the two of us plus our dogs. A bit muddy in a few spots but not impassable. Trails are wide down below and well marked. We took the shorter steeper trail up to the top. Good views and decent elevation. Not great signage up top to distinguish between the different trails. Thus, the way down ended up being longer than we planned. .

hiking
muddy
rocky
1 month ago

hiking
muddy
1 month ago

Great trail and friendly for little ones as long as you don’t mind a little mud. We hiked with our 2 year old in a carrier and made frequent stops to explore. Trail started getting very busy around noon.

hiking
muddy
1 month ago

Little muddy in a bunch of spots but overall the trails are in good condition

hiking
muddy
rocky
washed out
1 month ago

This trail would of been better if it wasn't SO muddy and rocky. Our 4 yr old who's hiked with us since she could walk, had a hard time and we did also ending up having to carry her on our shoulders half way up and half way down. Markers at times are also not as clear, good thing we had the trail map on the app. Overall, this hike is worth the try but we probably won't be going back.

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