Trails & Ales: Lonesome Lake and Kettlehead Brewing Co.
The hike -
The Lonesome Lake trail is rated as moderate on AllTrails and should be doable for most people. This is one of the first actual hikes that I've undertaken and I wasn't sure what to expect. Going in I was concerned that it might be too technically challenging or too physically demanding--but it was neither. The beginning of the trail winds through a campground before beginning a steep, rocky ascent which is by far the most challenging part of the trail, but once you push through it and arrive at top the lake is the perfect place to reset and relax before you head back down. The ascent down is much easier and took about half the time as the way up. I wasn't wearing hiking boots and I nearly lost my footing a few times on the way down. If you have proper footwear, though, the trail shouldn't be too demanding.
Lonesome Lake is serene, secluded lake sitting high up in Franconia Notch. The trail loops around the entire lake but we chose to walk to the Appalachian Mountain Club Hut overlooked the lake to rest and eat before heading back. There is a small dock below the hut where you can lounge and swim, but unfortunately it was occupied by a large group the entire time we were there. Still, the view was worthwhile. The name is apt because Lonesome Lake definitely imparts a sense of solitude, but a comforting one. It's not the grandest or most inspiring view but the air is fresh and the water is still and it's peaceful.
Kettlehead Brewing Co.
What better way to finish up a long day of hiking than with some local beer and food? We headed to Kettlehead Brewing Co. in Tilton, NH to try some local brews and refuel before the drive home. (NB: future Trails & Ales blog will feature breweries in much closer proximity to the trails).
We opted to dine outdoors at Kettlehead and the experience was a pleasant one. Their menu boasts a large offering of typical pub food, and a solid selection of beer. They definitely go heavy on the IPAs, which aren't my favorite, but their Rock Wall Campfire Stout boasts a marshmallow and graham cracker taste that was the perfect complement to the day's hike. Their Sunshine Cider and Peach Better Have My Honey Sour were also a couple of delicious, lighter offerings. They also have an Irish Stout named Chardee McDennis which I didn't try and if you don't understand that reference get out.
Unfortunately we weren't able to get the whole experience of drinking and eating in the brewery. Still, the beer selection was varied and tasty, and the mac and cheese was definitely one of the more unique takes on the dish that I've had in my long history of eating mac and cheese at pubs.