Boulder loop is a 3 mile loop with a view, 20 minutes west of Conway on the Kancamagus highway. The night before, I searched for hikes with swimming holes, but google only found swimming holes near roads. So we settled for Boulder Loop followed by a dip in the Swift River at lower falls.
The highlight of the trail, according to the guidebook, is an overlook at the top. There are also interpretive markers, but you have to visit the ranger station for a pamphlet. I speculated the trail might encircle one of two cliffs I’d climbed years ago — one with a log crossing over a river, and the other where I’d arrived late to the women’s rock climb. In either case, we would catch sight of the cliffs too.
The Boulder Loop trail winds around boulders that have cracked off the cliff. We turned left at the loop, leaving the boulders in the valley below. The interpretive markers started counting up. Without a pamphlet, we could only guess what the numbered posts might have marked. One of them must have marked the charred wood from a forest fire 30 years ago. Others might have highlighted each type of deciduous tree in the forest.
We came out of the woods to a brushy overlook. People were picnicking on the rock nubs. Isaac paused for one photo then rushed off before Tyson could enjoy the view. I ran along the cliff top after Isaac who was following the trail. Just before a taller, sunlight cliff sliced the woods above and blow us, the trail turned. I followed Isaac back into the trees.
Tyson caught up, grumpy we had rushed away from the main attraction. The trail went down for a bit, then around, then up again. I thought the best view was still ahead, near the top of the large cliff. We hadn’t passed the significant side trail indicated on my map. Tyson mellowed when the trail resumed climbing with determination.
The side trail at the top is marked by a sign that says “Overlook 0.2 miles” Everyone else seemed content with partial views along the spur trail. We hike the full 0.2 miles out to the prow of the cliffs. There we looked out on all the mountains east of the Kancamagus Pass and south of highway 112. I identified Chocorua’s rocky peak. Tyson walked around the promontory to a view of the Moat mountain ridge. I held on to Isaac, just in case.
On the way out, I missed the climber’s access path, but I’m sure the parking lot and trail matched my memory of Lost Horizon. We drove up to Lower Falls. Well worth the half hour stop to swim and splash in the Swift River.