This loop is fantastic for those that want a nice hike that offers great vantage points from North and South Mountain, the highest points in the park. It's got a good mix of technical challenges on climbing up the two high points mixed with flat ground of fire roads. This loop also makes for a great trail run.
Lots of roots and rocks. Ice and mud are rampant in the spring time.
Start from the Round Pond Road entrance of Pawtuckaway State Park, off Deerfield Road. Round Pond Access Road
is a small road that leads into what appears to be a neighborhood and a closed gate fire road. The road/trail will descend to Round Pond.
When you arrive near the lake, take the left turn following the signs for South Ridge Trail
and Mountain Trail
. You'll see a pond to the left as you climb up to the the South Mountain Fire Tower. At the top of the Fire Tower, you'll see great views of the surrounding area, picking out the coast in the horizon to the east and and seeing North Mountain more westward. There are multiple ways to get down South Mountain, but follow the gravel path South Mountain Fire Tower Trail
. The descent is steep, but you'll arrive at Tower Road.
From here, take a left on the wide dirt road and follow along until you get to the junction with Reservation Road. Run along Reservation Road for approximately one mile. There will be a small parking lot on the right for the North Mountain Trail
. Follow the trail up until you see a sign that veers you left. Be sure to check you are on trail! There are many social trails around this part and it can get easy to get lost amidst all the leaf debris, especially in the fall.
Get to the top of North Mountain and you'll follow the ridge line for a some time. There are many spots where the trees clear out for some sweeping views of South Mountain. The descent on the north side is steep and icy, especially in the spring. Be sure to take it slow and easy to ensure your footing is confident. You'll cross a small stream and follow the trail through the woods to a few boulder fields on Boulder Trail
. This might be a great spot to take a break and see some climbers on the rocks along the way.
Continue to follow signs to Round Pond, and you'll eventually see the waterbody to the right. Take this trail until you hit the Round Pond Access Road
. From here, you've finished the lollipop loop of North and South Mountain in Pawtuckaway.