Red Hill via Red Hill Trail

Mountain:  Red Hill (2020')
Trails:  Red Hill Trail, Red Hill Loop Trail
Region:  NH - Central East  
Lakes Region
Location:  Moultonborough, NH
Rating:  Moderate  
Features:  Summit, views, fire tower
Distance:  3.5 miles  
Elevation Gain:  1370 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Typical: 2:25  
Outing Duration:  Typical: 3:30  
Season:  Spring
Hike Date:  04/05/2008 (Saturday)  
Weather:  Cloudy and hazy, then clear
Author:  Dennis Marchand
Companion:  Nine SDHers

Route Summary   

  • Start on Red Hill Trail which leaves the parking lot on a gated road.
  • The first 0.1 mile is one of two short segments of the route that doubles as a snowmobile trail.
  • Fire tower on Red Hill (photo by Mark Malnati)
  • The hiking trail will turn to the right and cross a brook and at 0.4 mile the route briefly runs with the snowmobile trail again.
  • Then the path turns left at a Lakes Region Conversation Trust kiosk while the snowmobile trail goes straight.
  • From here on out the route is more straightforward, following an old jeep road that used to be used by the fire warden.
  • Near the summit you will reach a sign explaining the loop hike option.
  • Keep following the main Red Hill Trail up to the summit where there will be a fire tower and warden's cabin. The Eagle Cliff Trail will enter from the left shortly before the structures. The tower is staffed from May through October. During the off-season, you can still ascend (provided the stairs aren't covered with ice) to a viewing platform just below the cab to enjoy 360-degree views.
  • For the descent, follow the yellow blazes which mark the Red Hill Loop Trail. This will return you to the loop sign but via a different route from the ascent.
  • Finally, retrace your footsteps to continue the descent via the Red Hill Trail.

Place         Split
Red Hill Trailhead (670') 0.0 0.0
Red Hill summit (2020') 1.7 1.7
Red Hill Trailhead (670') 1.8 3.5



Map of hike route to Red Hill (map by Webmaster)

Trail Guide   

Group at the fire tower on Red Hill (photo by Mark Malnati) For our first hike of the season we went up to Red Hill. It's a short hike to a fire tower overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee and Squam Lake. It's only 1.7 miles to the summit but it has 1,370 feet of elevation gain so I'd call this a low/moderate hike.

The weather on this day didn't look too promising but nine hardy souls and two dogs weren't going to be denied. We all decided to take a chance and it worked out great.

There was still plenty of snow on the trail; in some places over two feet but we were fine using yak trak's or stabilicers. It was a fairly easy 1.7 miles to the summit under cloudy overcast skies and at one point it started to rain a little.

At the fire tower we were socked in by the clouds. The tower was closed with icy steps so we didn't try going up, nobody was home anyway. We had a quick lunch and started down on the loop section. Suddenly the clouds lifted and we had an awesome view of the many lakes in the area. The sky got blue and the sun came out and it warmed right up. Life is good.

We tried for ice cream afterwards; nothing was open yet but instead we found a nice coffee and pastry shop. Yum.

View of Squam Lake (photo by Mark Malnati) View of Squam Lake (photo by Mark Malnati)


NH - Central East

  Driving Directions   

  • From Rt. 25 in Center Harbor about 0.1 mile east of its junction with Rt. 25B, turn north onto Bean Road at a traffic light.
  • Follow Bean Road for 1.4 miles then turn right onto Sibley Road.
  • After 1.1 miles Sibley Road will end at a junction with Old Red Hill Road and Red Hill Road..
  • Turn left onto the Class VI (maintained only to the trailhead) Old Red Hill Road and travel for 0.2 mile to arrive at the parking lot and trailhead on the right. Note that this lot is plowed in the winter.

About Red Hill   

Red Hill, in the Lakes Region, is a popular hiking spot due to the stunning panoramic views that can be accessed from its fire tower. It overlooks Lake Winnipesaukee to the southeast and Squam Lake to the west. To the north is the Sandwich Range and to the east is the Ossipee Range. This combination of mountains and lakes in such close proximity is a rare gem.

The Lakes Region Conversation Trust has protected over 2,000 acres of Red Hill in both Moultonborough and Sandwich. In addition to preserving this land for recreation, its forests provide prime wildlife habitat for moose, bear, deer, woodcock, songbirds, and ruffed grouse. Red Hill's name was inspired by the Autumn foliage of its oak forest.

Red Hill Trail was originally a road to farms that struggled on the summit area in the18th century. It later became a jeep road leading to the fire tower. Today, as well as in the past, this route has received much foot traffic as hikers clamor to the top to personally view the acclaimed vistas.

Although Red Hill Trail is the most popular route up the mountain, it's not the only one. Eagle Cliff Trail is reputedly more scenic but it's also longer and some say tougher. This route reaches Eagle Cliff after 0.6 mile providing great views over Squam Lake and to the Sandwich Range before continuing its trek up and down a couple minor knobs and then onto Red Hill's summit. Both routes gain a fair amount of elevation and are considered to be moderate hikes.

The fire tower on the peak is staffed by the Moultonborough Fire Department from May through October. It is the only fire tower in New Hampshire not run by the state. During the off-season, you can still ascend (provided the stairs aren't covered with ice) to a viewing platform just below the cab to enjoy 360-degree views. Good views to the south and north are also available from the ledges at the base of the tower.

Camping, fishing, overnight use, and wheeled vehicles are not allowed.

The fire tower on Red Hill (photo by Mark Malnati)

  Trailhead sign (photo by Jim Pollard)


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