Saturday, August 20, 2016


THE LONG WAY TO NORTH PERCY: 8/18/16

I joined Greg Ortiz for a long approach to North Percy Peak via a newly-opened 4-mile segment of the Cohos Trail  - the Pond Brook Falls Trail and then the Trio Trail - in the Nash Stream Forest. In the evening I did a second, shorter hike on the East Side Trail. A marvelous area!

We started our hike on the Pond Brook Falls Trail, which leads to its namesake falls in just 0.1 mile. The new section of trail turns left just below the falls, with a spur trail leading up to the broad ledge slabs (slippery when wet).


With its slabs and waterslides, it's sort of like the North Country's version of Franconia Falls.


The new trail climbs up the slope to the left of the falls. This Cohos Trail bog bridge is covered with chicken wire for improved traction.


This seasonal bridge over Pond Brook well above the falls will be removed each autumn and reinstalled each spring.


Pond Brook, looking downstream.


After crossing Trio Ponds Road, we entered the new Trio Trail, the second and longer segment of the new trail route, which was completed within the last couple of weeks.



The SW spur of Whitcomb Mountain seen across an old beaver meadow filled with wildflowers. Cliffs up there look like an interesting bushwhack destination.


For about a half-mile the trail passes by a series of recent logging cuts. This one opens a view to West Peak and and the sharp summit of Sugarloaf Mountain.

Greg spotted two moose up ahead in one of the brushy cuts. These were their tracks.

The trail running across one of the cuts.



As the trail wraps around the lower west end of Long Mountain, it passes through a vast stand of fine hardwood forest.


Great work by the Northwoods Stewardship Center crew and Cohos Trail volunteers who built this trail.


We wondered if this was some kind of old pool, built to provide a water source.



A gorgeous, Catskill-like hardwood glade.


Long Mountain Brook at the trail's crossing.


Lunch break at the Percy Loop Campsite. As the wheel turns, it's 3.9 miles from the Pond Brook Falls trailhead to the Percy Loop Trail.



Kiosk at the campsite. There's an excellent water source nearby.


New signage.


Another new sign.


Unusual blazing. The Percy Loop Trail is now blazed in red, and in both red and yellow above the campsite, where it is part of the Cohos Trail.


A rather gnarly stretch of the Percy Loop Trail on the damp and shady "back" side of North Percy.

Heading up the steep, grippy granite slabs on the cone of North Percy.



The trail is well-blazed on the ledges.







Summit sign.




Looking north up the Nash Stream valley to an array of 3500-ft. peaks. Greg, an avid bushwhacker, has climbed just about every peak, tall and small, in this region.



West to the Goback/Savage Mountain group.



Looking back up at the scrubby summit. There were plenty of blueberries ripe for the picking.


Aptly-named Long Mountain stretches away to the east, with the Mahoosuc Range on the horizon.



Greg stands on the brink where the abandoned West Side Trail came up via exceedingly steep ledge slabs.

Looking down the old West Side Trail route.



South Percy with the Pilot Range beyond.



Walking down into the SE views.


Christine Lake, with the little nub of Victor Head on its left.


The mile-and-a-half section of Percy Loop Trail below the campsite is a delightful descent route - easy to moderate grades, excellent footing, and fine hardwood forest.



Smooth sailing.



After the descent from North Percy, Greg headed home while I drove farther up Nash Stream Road for a three-mile round trip on the East Side Trail, another link in the Cohos Trail.



The trail starts off beside pretty Nash Stream.



A half-mile in, a rough little side path leads down to this interesting feature, named by Cohos Trail founder Kim Nilsen.



A remarkably pointed boulder.


The Devil's Jacuzzi in Nash Stream, a natural tub with built-in jets.


I continued for another mile, up-and-down through fine hardwood forest, to a side path leading down to a spot at the edge of Nash Stream Bog.

This was a 200-acre pond until its dam burst in 1969, flooding and scouring the valley. It's now the largest wetland in the area. Mount Muise (3615 ft.) can be seen to the right.


The trailhead for East Side Trail is nearly opposite that for Sugarloaf Mountain, so if you're making the long 8-mile drive up gravel Nash Stream Road to climb Sugarloaf, a 52 With a View Peak (as is North Percy), the East Side Trail makes a nice easy second hike for the day. Thanks to all the volunteers who have created and maintain the Cohos Trail, a unique and wonderful addition to New Hampshire's hiking trail system!


Saturday, August 13, 2016


HOT DAY ON THE HIGHWATER TRAIL: 8/11/16

On one of the hottest days of the summer, Carol and I did some geocaching with friends and then on our own, after which I spent a few hours checking out Irene relocations on the Highwater Trail while Carol lounged by the Wild River.

With our geocaching friends Pam and Sue, we found two tricky geocaches on the Presidential Rail Trail off Dolly Copp Road.



The Rail Trail was bursting with midsummer flowers. I believe these are Common Tansy, an escaped European garden flower, and a member of the aster family.



Black-eyed Susan and perhaps a red-orange variant.



This part of the Rail Trail has fine views. Lower Howker Ridge and Mount Madison rise beyond a beaver wetland.


Eastern view to Pine Mountain, Mount Moriah and North Carter.


While up on Randolph Hill checking out the start of the Bee Line, it was nice to see the RMC's Boothman Spring Cutoff officially signed and open again.


After a stop in Gorham we headed over Routes 2 and 113 to the WMNF Wild River Road and the north end of the Highwater Trail to find a couple more geocaches.


We crossed the major bridge over the Wild River at the north end of the Highwater Trail, which replaced a previous span swept away by Tropical Storm Irene.The ledges of The Roost can be seen at upper left.


We then drove five miles up the Wild River Road to the Shelburne Trail. This is the crossing of the Wild River near the start of the trail. Crocs came in handy and the water felt good! Carol has a balky knee so she read a book by the river while I hiked partway up and down the Highwater Trail to check out six short Irene relocations.


Cairns mark the way as the Shelburne Trail follows a confusing route through stony brookbeds.


I headed north for a mile on Highwater Trail and enjoyed this downstream vista from an open bank.


A long view upstream from the same spot.


Tropical Storm Irene wiped out a few sections of trail. Within the last couple of years the Androscoggin Ranger District trail crew made the half-dozen relocations around the washed-out areas.




Hobblebush leaves were drooping due to the current drought conditions.



Heading back to the south on Highwater Trail, some gymnastics were required to start the crossing of Bull Brook.


Bull Brook drains a big valley on the east side of Mount Moriah, but was almost bone dry today.



More fine riverside vistas.


A placid channel on the Wild River.


A view downstream to Howe Peak, an eastern spur of Shelburne Moriah Mountain.


Here Irene cut away the bank on the east side.


The huge flat ledge in the center of the photo is a popular sunning and swimming spot.


Lots of fine woods walking on the Highwater Trail.


I continued south to the Moriah Brook Trail junction to check out the bridge situation.



The WMNF closed the bridge last fall due to continuing erosion on the east bank, started by Irene. Options for this crossing are currently under consideration, info can be found on the WMNF website.


The supports on the east side of the bridge have been severely undermined.


On the way back I took a short break at this huge rocky outwash.


A narrow stretch of trail along the riverbank - a future relocation farther away from the river will probably be needed here.


On the way back I made a short bushwhack to a beautiful beaver meadow just inside the Wild River Wilderness.



Lots of Steeplebush (aka Hardhack) was blooming here.


A forest pool shaded by tall maples.


A pretty scene beside the meadow.


Nice woods for whacking.



We took a drive out by the historic Philbrook Farm Inn on North Road in Shelburne, which has been welcoming guests since 1861. The inn has a long association with hiking and several trails to lower peaks in the southern Mahoosucs start on its grounds.


Shelburne Moriah Mountain from the front of the inn.