What a great way to start a Greenway! Although the Andrew’s Brook trail from Mountain Road in Newbury is slightly easier and more popular—probably because it is easier—the Newbury Trail is a much more scenic way to hike to Lake Solitude. It is the first part of Trail Number 1 of the Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway, a “75-mile emerald necklace of hiking trails, surrounding Lake Sunapee, crossing Sunapee, Ragged, and Kearsarge Mountains, and maintained by Greenway volunteers”. The Newbury Trail offers views of Lake Sunapee and a nice variety of forest types and ages as well as a sometimes challenging stream crossing at the start.
The official start and parking place is the Newbury Post Office lot on NH 103, opposite the Newbury town dock, but a few cars can fit at the start of the forested part of the trail 0.2 miles away on Lake View Ave. Either way, once you enter the woods, the whole of SRKG 1 is inside Sunapee State Park. You will soon cross a beautiful brook that at times can be quite full and an interesting crossing. If you look somewhat off the trail to the left as you ascend you can find some nice falls like the one at the right.
The trail then climbs steeply at first, but do not be discouraged. In less than 0.2 miles from the road you will reach a small cairn on the right that marks a short detour to the Eagles Nest, a nice spot to view Newbury Harbor and village below.
About a mile further along the Newbury Trail is a great view of Lake Sunapee just after a stone staircase. From this spot you can also see Mount Kearsarge and, on a clear day, Mount Washington. Unless you plan to cross the summit of Sunapee and take the Summit Trail down to the ski area parking lot or the Goshen trailhead, this is your last view of Lake Sunapee.
After 2.5 miles from the PO parking area, the trail reaches the Jack and June Junction, named for a Newport couple who maintained the trails for many years. Here you have two options and you should definitely explore both. A left turn soon takes you to beautiful Lake Solitude—seen at the left—and the top of the 2-mile-long Andrews Brook Trail. If you leave a second car along Mountain Road this makes a great loop.
No matter how you reach Lake Solitude, be sure not to miss one of the nicest spots in New Hampshire—the White Ledges above Lake Solitude. They are reached by continuing on SRKG 1 uphill from the Jack and June Junction to an open ledge area and a short side trip to the left. From these cliffs, which are nearly at the same elevation as the summit of Sunapee, you gaze down on Lake Solitude, eastward past Lake Todd, Lake Massacecum, and Pat’s Peak, and onward across eastern NH. This is a fantastic snack spot in any season, even winter.
In making the climb you likely failed to notice something special; you crossed into a different major watershed. The brook at the start of the trail runs into Lake Sunapee, then the Sugar River and on to Long Island Sound, and is part of the Connecticut River Watershed. Lake Solitude drains into Andrews Brook which is part of the Merrimack Watershed leading to the Atlantic Ocean in Newburyport, MA.
The hike to Lake Solitude and White Ledges is great with either one or two cars. If you parked in Newbury, you can follow the same trail back down. But you could also park a second car at the third bridge along Mountain Road just east of Newbury Harbor and the first right turn off Route 103 to return via the Andrews Brook Trail. However, the Newbury Trail continues over the top Mount Sunapee to Goshen. That trailhead is at the end of Old Providence Road off Brook Road which is the first left west of the Mount Sunapee traffic circle.
The second part of SRKG Trail 1 over the top of Mount Sunapee is very well worth doing. The area just west of White Ledges is a very beautiful forest. From the top of some of the ski trails near the peak are great views over Lake Sunapee to the north.
The hike can be done in less than 3 hours up and back but allow more to enjoy the views. Allow at least 4 hours if you go to the end of SRKG 1 in Goshen. The trails can be walked with snowshoes in winter, but a picnic on White Ledges on a warm summer or fall day can’t be beat.
Here is a slide show of some of the photos along Trail 1 of the Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway.