UP THE UNCANOONUCS
When we first moved to New Hampshire, we were more than excited. Finally, we were closer to the mountains. Growing up in Western Mass, the term is “foothills” because that’s all there is around there. But, New Hampshire. New Hampshire has the White Mountains—named not after their snow-capped peaks, but after all the reflective granite that lays on their trails. It is the Granite State after all.
When we were first house hunting, we came across this cute little cottage which we immediately put on our roster and scheduled a showing. When we arrived, we were greeted by this monster of a driveway—the kind that turns getting the mail into an exercise routine. We like mountains, but maybe not in our front yard?
But, we liked the house and location so we said what the heck and climbed away. We reached the top and, while trying to look calm, cool, collected and attempting to control our breathing so we didn’t seem too out of shape, we took a look around. That’s when we saw it. This house had views. Two rounded mountain peaks jutted out over the horizon. The steep driveway suddenly made sense, and I didn’t care if the house had a rat’s nest in it, because no way was I passing up a house with a view.
We came to learn that the two peaks were the Uncanoonuc Mountains. Nestled right in our little town, these peaks are little—just over 1320 ft—but are very well loved, despite their small statures. The name “Uncanoonuc” is said to be derived from the Massachusett language term kuncannowet (meaning “breast”). Take a look at these twin peaks, and you’ll quickly realize why.
T H E N
The Uncanoonucs first began their commercial ventures in 1907, when the Incline Railway was first established on South Uncanoonuc. With great views of the Manchester skyline—and even the Boston skyline on a clear day—the railway attracted visitors far and wide.
That same year, the Uncanoonuc Hotel was built. Standing 5 ½ stories tall, with 37-38 guest rooms and a dining room for 120 people, the hotel was striking and provided amazing views of the valley below. Unfortunately, the Uncanoonuc Hotel burned in 1923, and the decision was made not to rebuilt.
The Incline Railway was later frequented by skiers in the winter time. Three main trails were cleared down South Uncanoonuc, ranging in grade for 6-30 degree slopes, providing terrain for every skill level. The railway’s capacity was said to be 300 skiers/hour. One winter day in 1935 holds the record, with 1100 skiers brought to the summit—maybe it was a powder day?
The mountain hosted many races, carnivals, and events throughout the years, but when the railway was damaged by fire in 1941, skiing the Uncanoonucs came to a halt.
N O W
Today, the hotel resort, railway, and ski area on South Uncanoonuc have given way to transmitting facilities for the area’s broadcasting stations. But, the scenic vistas are still there with a summit road and sign to guide you to them (or hiking trails if that’s more your speed).
North Uncanoonuc is largely untouched, hiking and snowmobile trails alone criss-cross its landscape. Hikers can choose one of several trails to climb the mountain, escape from the rat race, and just enjoy a breath of fresh air.
As for us, we’ve hiked the little Uncanoonucs loads of times—sometimes for the view, sometimes for exercise, sometimes just to clear our minds. I can’t say that you’ll love them too, but I know I’ve never had a bad time in those little mountains.
And don’t forget—the mountains are dog friendly—as long as your dog is friendly!
Remember--leave no trace.