Canoeing on the Dead Diamond, except in times of high water, is undemanding and enjoyable. It is a good way to see more of the Grant, sneak up on wildlife, and gain access to seldom-fished spots. The Swift Diamond River is generally too shallow and rock-filled for good canoeing.
The Gorge below the junction of the Swift Diamond and the Dead Diamond is extremely dangerous canoeing water and should not be attempted. Canoeing on the Dead Diamond in the high water of the spring runoff should be approached cautiously because of drift-log jams, which sometimes block the full width of the river and can capsize canoes and entangle canoers.
An excellent and leisurely day trip can be had by putting a canoe in at the large pool at the foot of Hellgate Gorge and canoeing down to the bridge by the Management Center. Quiet canoers can surprise moose, deer, beaver, otter, mink, muskrat, and perhaps an occasional bear. Tracks for all these animals can be found in the sand and mud along the riverbanks. Wood ducks, goldeneye, black ducks, kingfishers, great blue herons, and other birds can also be encountered. For shorter trips on the Dead Diamond put in or take out at other good access points along the river: the head of Half Mile Falls and Bob Monahan’s Bathtub.
Canoeing access to the still water of the Magalloway River is easy from the upper end of the Miller-Quinn landing strip. Just downstream from here the Diamond flows into the Magalloway. The Magalloway is bordered by extensive wetlands, which abound with waterfowl and other wildlife. Downstream below the Route 16 bridge in Maine and particularly in Wentworth’s Location the Magalloway is a somewhat confusing maze of sloughs, old channels, and logans, and it is best to pay attention to your route so you’ll be able to find your way back.
A highly recommended trip for people wanting to canoe outside the Grant is the flatwater paddling to the junction of the Magalloway River and the Androscoggin River at the edge of Lake Umbagog. Birdlife abounds by the junction of these two rivers, including ospreys and the only eagle pair in New Hampshire known to be nesting. Access is either up the Androscoggin from the put-in north of the Errol dam or else down the Magalloway from the point where the river last comes near Route 16. These routes out to Umbagog are each about 2.5 miles. Canoeing on the rivers in a wind can be difficult, though not dangerous. Lake Umbagog itself should always be avoided by canoers whenever there is a strong wind.
Canoes may be rented at Teepee Campgrounds in Wentworth Location, (603) 482-3475, and L. L. Cote in Errol, (800) 287-7700.
Hunting and Fishing
Hunting, particularly for deer and ruffed grouse, is popular in the Grant and is a good excuse to get out and explore. All hunting is subject to the regular New Hampshire seasons, bag limits, and licenses. Deer hunters are advised to wear hunter orange clothing.
The Dead Diamond River is the last non-stocked, native trout stream in New Hampshire. Its strain of brook trout is probably longer-lived than state-stocked hatchery trout elsewhere and capable of reaching greater size. Keeping fewer trout than the New Hampshire daily bag limit allows and catch-and-release fishing are both strongly encouraged so that these natives might grow to their full size and give many Grant fishermen the experience of catching large, native trout.
For filling a frying pan with hatchery trout, try the heavily stocked Androscoggin River between Errol and Pontook Dam, or fish in Long Pond on the west side of Route 16 about two miles north of Errol.
For perch and pickerel, fish in the Androscoggin above Errol Dam or the Magalloway around Wentworth’s Location. Night fishing by lantern light in these same areas sometimes produces huge catches of horned pout. For horned pout fishing right at the Grant try the Magalloway River at the Miller-Quinn Landing Strip. Fishermen are encouraged to keep all the perch and horned pout they catch. Both species are incredibly prolific and tend to overpopulate any body of water they are in.
Mountain biking opportunities on the gravel roads on and adjacent to the Grant are superb. Bikers should be wary of motor vehicle traffic and should be cautious near moose, whose poor eyesight may cause them to bolt in unpredictable directions when they are startled.
Any of the roads in the Grant are fine for biking. Check out some trip ideas in the Mountain Biking section. Or take a map and explore.
Cross Country Skiing
Snow comes to the Grant earlier and leaves later than in most other places in New Hampshire. In any given winter there are usually many miles of summer roads left unplowed because they are not needed for winter logging access. These roads are invariably wide and without any steep grades. On some of them, the snow will have been packed by snowmobile traffic. In addition, side roads off these main routes frequently offer good skiing.
Try the roads along the Swift Diamond, the Dead Diamond, and the Little Dead Diamond rivers. The Timber Management Road and Dike Site Road are less likely to have had the snow packed by snowmobile traffic. The Sanderson Brook Trail was recently cleared of brush and blowdowns specifically to provide good skiing. The extension of the Swift Diamond Road, now called Four-Mile Brook Road, up along the east branch of Four Mile Brook and up to Mount Tucker is a fine ski trail.
Skiers should use common sense and good judgment when tempted to ski on the rivers. Though most of the ice is quite thick, in places the river currents keep the ice too thin for safe passage.
Skiing in the Grant on a sunny day in early spring, when snow is gone from most of New Hampshire, is particularly enjoyable.
Map and Compass Bushwhacking
The lack of hiking trails through much of the Grant has been a key factor in keeping many of the Grant’s special places wild, remote, and free of off-road recreational vehicle traffic. With no more than a basic knowledge of map and compass use, visitors to the Grant can challenge themselves to find particular spots and then, successful or not, easily find their ways back to the cabins at night.
The Grant is almost ideally set up for bushwhacking because of the many catch-lines for bail-out routes. Bushwhackers will discover that, because of the topography, it is quite easy to get lost in the Grant. However, it is difficult to stay lost.
Members of a group attempting a bushwhack to the swamp less than a mile to the west of Black Mountain, for instance, towards the end of the afternoon might find themselves puzzling over whether a landmark hill is Black Mountain, Chase Mountain, or some unnamed hill and wondering exactly where they might be. They should, however, have no difficulty finding their way back to familiar territory. If they follow a compass course east, they will come out somewhere on the Loomis Valley Road. To the west they will intersect Four-Mile Brook Road that now stretches as far as Mount Tucker. To the south they will run into the Swift Diamond Road.
Similarly, on the eastern third of the Grant a westerly compass bearing will guide a bushwhacker out somewhere onto the Dead Diamond Road. Indeed, easily-set compass courses anywhere in the Grant will guide a lost bushwhacker eventually to a road or a river which may then be followed to more familiar territory.
Bushwhackers should always have a general idea of where they are and should carry extra food and clothing, spare compasses, and flashlights in case they need to complete a route after dark. If the catch-line for a bail-out route is a road, following the road after dark is not a problem. However, if the catch-line is a river, the bushwhackers should head for it while there is still plenty of daylight left. Following the endless meanders of the Dead Diamond through alder swamps after dark or finding yourself on the wrong side of Magalloway Swamp or Four Mile Marsh at a time when you should be in a cabin washing the supper dishes are experiences that lose their glamour quickly. Use good sense. Don’t bushwhack alone. When you know the way out may take a long time, head for home early.
Suggested Bushwhacks, Point-To-Point
Make up your own overall route. Directional bearings here are given as magnetic bearings for use with a dial-type compass with a direction of travel arrow on its rectangular housing. For a reverse bearing, add or subtract 180 degrees. If you are unfamiliar with how to orient a map or how to set and follow a compass course, learn how from someone who knows.
- Hellgate Pond to Lamb Valley Pond: 200 degrees (follow the trail from Hellgate to Hellgate Pond before you begin following this compass course. From Hellgate Pond bear east to skirt the knoll between the two ponds and then compensate for this divergence from course).
- Stoddard Cabin to Lamb Valley Pond: 354 degrees.
- Stoddard Cabin to Round Mountain: 306 degrees.
- Round Mountain to Mount Tucker: 293 degrees.
- Mount Tucker to Unknown Pond: 291 degrees.
- Stoddard Cabin to Black Mountain: 230 degrees.
- Black Mountain to Chase Mountain: 250 degrees.
- Alder Brook Cabin to Chase Mountain: 323 degrees.
- Alder Brook Cabin to Rand’s Rock: 8 degrees.
- Sanderson Brook Trail at the height of land to the highest point on Halfmoon Mountain: l90 degrees (or simply follow the ridge line).
- Halfmoon Mountain to Merrill Brook Cabin: 260 degrees.
- Halfmoon Mountain to middle of Dike Site Road: 212 degrees.
- Bail-out Routes for Bushwhack-Hikers or Those Following Animal Tracks in the Snow
- For anywhere east of Dead Diamond Road: 290 degrees leads back to the road.
- From Chase Mountain-Black Mountain-Rand’s Rock area: 100 degrees to Timber Management Road, or 200 degrees to the Swift Diamond Road
- From the Lamb Valley Pond or Hellgate Pond areas: 20 degrees to the Hellgate area. If you intersect a small river (the Little Dead Diamond), follow it downstream to Hellgate. If you run into a large river (Dead Diamond), follow it upstream.