Red Hill is a very popular family-friendly hike with a lot of history and an incredible view. The mountain’s landscape has changed over time from a Native American hunting ground to cleared pastures and farmland to a wooded hillside with a recreation trail. The Massachusetts Cook family moved to the mountain in 1788 and ran a bed and breakfast for visitors in the 1800s. Some of their well-known guests included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Melville, and Henry David Thoreau.
The Red Hill Trail heads into the woods for approximately 0.3 mile and reaches a junction where the Cabin Trail splits off. You’ll notice this junction is wooded, but the large sign indicates this was once cleared as part of the Horne family homestead in the 1800s. Choose either trail to the summit, as both have similar distances and grades, and return via the other to make a pleasant loop. There’s an old hunting cabin along the Cabin Trail and a steel fire tower on the top of the hill. The fire tower was built in the late 1920s and was funded by a seasonal resident who donated $1,175 for its construction. The tower was used by the local fire department to watch for fires in the surrounding region, and in 2003 this tower was added to the National Historic Lookout Register.
Much of the summit is wooded, so the fire tower provides the 360-degree view overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee and Squam Lake. Many of New Hampshire’s popular mountains are visible, including Mount Major, Mount Cardigan, and Mount Chocorua. Several of the New Hampshire 4,000-footers can also been seen, including Mount Moosilauke, Mount Carrigain, Whiteface, and Passaconaway. Keep an eye out for big game, such as moose, bear, and deer, as well as many species of birds that live in the area.