The Hedgehog Ridge Trail and Hedgehog Mountain Trail at the High Five Reservation in Deering, New Hampshire is a moderate 9.6-mile out-and-back hike featuring stunning views of the Monadnock Region of New Hampshire.
Trail Name: Hedgehog Ridge Trail and, Hedgehog Mountain Trail, Deering NH
Trailhead Locations: High Five Reservation at 205 Sky Farm Road, Deering NH and Hedgehog Mountain Reservation at Hedgehog Mountain Road, Deering NH. These trails are located in the Monadnock Region of Southern New Hampshire.
Allowed activities: hiking, birding, geocaching, snowshoeing
Forbidden activities: NO Littering, NO fires, NO Camping, and NO motorized vehicles
Hours: Trails are open daily. There are no hours of operation posted at either of the two trail heads.
Warning: Winter and early spring visitors may encounter dangerous icy conditions. Don’t forget bug spray and be aware there are a lot of ticks. Bring adequate water for an all day hike.
Parking: There is very limited parking at the Sky Farm Road Trailhead entrance, also known as “High Five Reservation”. Sky Farm Road is a dirt road. It can be very bumpy and rutted. Use caution and go slowly. There are signs placed by The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests at either trailhead. Sky Farm entrance has a green metal gate at the entrance, do not block the gate, use street side edges for parking and be aware of low shoulders. There is more room for parking at the Hedgehog Mountain Forest trailhead located at Hedgehog Mountain Road, off of Old County Road. The Hedgehog Mountain Trail is not too far from this parking area and is marked by small blue signs with painted white arrows pointing the way to the trail entrance. Hedgehog Mountain Trail connects to the Hedgehog Ridge Trail at the Summit Vista junction.
Pets: Dogs are allowed on the trails as long as they are leashed and waste is carried out with the hiker.
Accessibility: This trail has numerous trip hazards, narrow and or steep sections, impressive drop offs and also some rock scramble. Tree debris can be on the trail. This trail is not wheelchair or stroller friendly. There are numerous elevation changes on this trail.
Sanitation: There are no restrooms or trash bins at either end of the trail. Please carry out any items brought in.
Trail information: There are no maps or trail information kiosks posted at either end of the trail. This trail was newly completed in the summer of 2016 and officially opened to the public on October 14, 2016. The trail blaze markers are yellow rectangles on trees or an occasional painted rock on or beside the trail. There are also multiple cairns along the trail to help guide hikers in the right direction. Hikers will traverse several sections of very hilly terrain with numerous and long inclines and declines. At either end of the trail, there are signs posted by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. At the Sky Farm end, the sign is “High Five Reservation” at the other end; a similar sign reads “Hedgehog Mountain Forest”. A trail map can be downloaded from the following link:
Length and features: This hike is a moderate 9.6 mile (round trip) journey, done as an “out and back” hike with a few shorter spurs for checking out points of interest, like the Boulder Quarry, The Vista summit, or the numerous lookout points with awesome views. Traveling at a moderate pace, with stops for exploring, snacks or geocaching, hikers should plan to spend at least 5 to 7 hours to complete the trail. If hikers do not wish to travel the complete 9.6 miles, beautiful vistas can still be enjoyed and are not far from either trailhead. Shorter hikes can be done as “out and back” hikes from either end of this trail. Over the 9.6 mile journey, the trail has several changes in width and density of vegetation. From the Sky Farm trail head, just past the metal gate, hikers will encounter a wide gravel path that looks very much like a service road. The hike starts off with a modest incline that opens up to a beautiful hillside field. During our visit the field was full of milkweed, clover, blackberry bushes, blueberry bushes, daisies and Indian paintbrush. This is a pollinator’s paradise where Bees, Swallowtail butterflies, and Monarch Butterflies frequent. Continuing on, hikers will no doubt want to pause to take in the fantastic panoramic views of Mount Monadnock and the Contoocook River Valley. There is a granite bench waiting for just such a break, which promises to be the perfect spot for watching the sunrise or sunset. The views atop Wilson Hill are simply amazing: Mount Monadnock is to the West and the Deering reservoir to the east. There is a very fun, well maintained geocache hidden nearby this spot. The start of the Hedgehog Ridge trail is marked by a wooden trail sign and wooden arrow sign nailed to a tree on the right side of the hilltop. The start is a grassy meadow where delicious wild strawberries grow. The path descends quickly from here into a narrow, steep path with rocky substrate, much like a dried streambed. The vegetation makes the path a bit “tight” and hikers will need to travel single file through this section. The trail eventually opens to a wooded trail with old rock walls and a variety of Oak, Maple, Hemlock, Beech and Birch trees. There are several boulder fields along the trail. The sheer size and scope of them is hard to describe other than to say they are enormously massive and awe inspiring. The trail does have some sections that are smooth, and somewhat flat, but for the most part the trail has a good amount of inclines, turns and declines that can be of seemingly long duration.
The trail is well traveled and the foot path in the wooded sections is often obvious. If there happen to be trees down across the trail, hikers may have to take some time to re-locate the way to go, especially if the substrate happens to be over a rocky area where foot traffic is not so clearly seen. There are numerous trail blaze markers that are placed higher up so that they can be seen during winter use. The trail has a many turns, so hikers will need to pay attention and look for the next yellow rectangle. In addition to trail blaze markers, there are several wooden signs with arrows pointing the way. These signs are painted with a brown background and engraved white painted arrows. This trail passes through several of the Forest Society’s reservations, as well as through lands owned by New England Forestry Foundation, Meadowsend Timberlands, and private properties. Hikers will see signs from these different conservation groups whose mission is to help steward this area. Seasonal wetness and slippery conditions are possible as the trail does pass over some streams. There is only one small wooden bridge not too far from the Hedgehog Mountain Road trail head to help hikers cross over wet areas. Any other stream crossings will need to be done with caution as conditions can be muddy or slippery depending on the season.
The summit vista is a great place to stop for a picnic lunch. It has a wide flat rock platform and some shade. The trail continues past the summit area and descends down a rocky steep substrate and down through the woods to the parking area on Hedgehog Mountain Road. There is another geocache hidden nearby this trailhead. The trail is long, and sometimes strenuous, but the views are worth the effort.