52 With a View Trifecta: Stinson, Blueberry, and Black (Benton)

On most weekend days, one hike would suffice my desire to get outside. But this wasn’t your ordinary Saturday. What was supposed to be a one-off hike of Smarts Mountain with a group of college kids at the College Get Outside Weekend turned into a marathon of peaks, back to back to back.

Lauren and I stayed at AMC’s Cardigan Lodge with a large group of college kids, some of whom were potentially going to hike with us. However, it didn’t seem as if people were diggin’ our idea, so we ended up all alone. No matter, we figured, we would go off and do our own thing.

Looking at the map, it appeared as if we were closest to Stinson Mountain, and since I plan to complete the 52 With a View list someday, that appeared to be the best option. But when we flew up the uneventful mountain in 45 minutes, we realized that we would need to occupy the remainder of our day elsewhere.

Atop the not-so-impressive summit of Stinson, we reexamined our options. If we wanted to finish off the day sweaty and tired, it made the most sense to do Blueberry Mountain. And hey, what the heck, Benton sounded like a good idea as well.

Round trip, it took us an hour and ten minutes to hike Stinson. The views weren’t anything special, nor was the trail. We were worried that all of our mountains for the day would hold a similar character. But we were sorely misguided.

At Blueberry, we traipsed along a scenic field until we emerged into the trees. Soon thereafter, we began to ascend an open area with rock instead of dirt for the trail.

Along the way, we met a couple who came straight from Serendipity. Their son currently lives in Sutton (Lauren’s town), is a lawyer, and practiced Land Use law, all factors that are close to home for both Lauren and I. We ended up chatting with them for nearly a half an hour before we scampered up the trail toward the summit. Of course, we missed the spur trail to the top, so we ran into our friends on the way back to the true summit, where we were afforded a glorious view of Mount Moosilauke.

A short drive later, and we were poised to tackle our toughest challenge of the day, Benton Mountain. Shortly after starting, the peak became increasingly steep, and much more strenuous than the prior two peaks. It did not relent all the way up until the summit, and as the last peak of the day, certainly took the wind out of us.

I would ultimately say that it was my favorite peak of the day—it was challenging, scenic, and idyllic. The slope reminded me a lot of Borah Peak in Idaho, which we did a few months ago, but even more steep (minus the effects of altitude). Moreover, the views were spectacular. For such a small peak, you could see quite a bit of your surroundings on the two bald summits that the peak has to offer.

All in all, we hiked 11.5 miles with 4000 feet of elevation gain. It felt like we accomplished more than that because of the driving in between. I would definitely recommend people try this type of hiking trip at some point—the hikes weren’t too challenging, yet many views were to be had!

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Route name

Stinson Mtn trail

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