The trail to one of the most popular small mountains in the High Peaks region is now closed on weekends because of problems with parking and hikers.
Owls Head in Keene has long been a favorite with families and people looking for a short hike with a great view. The trail to the summit is just 0.6 miles long. Rock climbers also use the trail to reach cliffs just below the summit.
The trail crosses private land at the start. The parking area on Owls Head Lane (off Route 73) also is on private land.
The trail and parking area will be closed to the public every weekend from 4 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Monday. The town of Keene has posted signs on Owls Head Lane.
Keene Supervisor Joe-Pete Wilson said landowners became frustrated with the number of cars and hikers and with litter and human waste left behind. He said Owls Head is symptomatic of the overcrowding on the High Peaks. “This is part of a bigger issue that I do want to address,” he said.
At 2,120 feet, Owls Head is not a High Peak itself, but it lies with the High Peaks Wilderness. It offers views of nearby Cascade Mountain, Giant Mountain, and other High Peaks.
The state does not own an easement across the private land. The state Department of Environmental Conservation said it is looking at developing a new trail that would start on Molly Nye Road on the opposite side of Owls Head. This would require an amendment to the High Peaks Wilderness management plan.