Friday, December 6, 2013
An easy morning hike into a unique preserve in the town of Bedford, west of Manchester. I parked at the spacious trailhead off New Boston Rd. and headed to Pulpit Rock on the gently-graded Kennard Trail.
A trail map on the kiosk by Pulpit Rock, reached after a 0.6 mi. walk.
Pulpit Rock, which has been a locally famous natural attraction for many years.
I made a loop down past the floor of the gorge on the rugged little Ravine Trail and Granite Trail.
Looking at Pulpit Rock from ledges on the other side of the gorge, which was carved by torrential glacial meltwater.
Many interesting rock formations in here.
View up from the floor of the gorge.
Sculpted by the power of falling/flowing water.
Peering into the gorge from the brink of Pulpit Rock.
A peaceful scene along Pulpit Brook, seen from the Blue Trail.
A short spur from the Kennard Trail leads to a ledge overlooking a marsh along Pulpit Brook. This is a nice little wild area in the heavily developed Merrimack valley.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
THE UNCANOONUCS: 12/2/13
First day of a two-day journey to southern lands to explore trails for the AMC Southern New Hampshire Trail Guide. Though I'd seen them many times on the horizon from distant viewpoints, I'd never been to this pair of low, rounded hills west of the Merrimack valley in Goffstown. The trail system here has been expanded in recent years and is well-maintained by the Goffstown Conservation Commission. I started at the major trailhead at the end of Mountain Base Rd., next to Uncanoonuc Lake.
This trail map can be downloaded at http://goffstowntrails.com/pdf/Uncanoonuc-Hikes-Color.pdf
I started up the Incline Trail, which climbs at a stiff grade along the route of the Incline Railway, which utilized two cable cars to transport passengers to the summit. It was in operation from 1904 to 1942, and the in the 1930s was popular with skiers, who could choose from four trails for the descent.
Near the top I turned R on the Walker Trail, named after Boy Scout Miles Walker, who blazed the trail and planted trees around the summit area of South Uncanoonuc. There are three viewpoints along the Walker Trail as it traverses across the slope. Panoramas once used by the fire tower lookouts atop South Uncanoonuc are posted at the vista spots. Unfortunately they weren't much help today as even these low 1,300-ft. peaks were totally fogged in.
On a very clear day several peaks in the White Mountains can be spotted.
I continued towards the top on the Summit Trail. A spur off this leads to a western vantage point where chairs await view seekers.
Fog and oak forest on the slope below the summit.
A guy I met here said the Boston skyline can be seen from this south-facing opening on the Summit Trail.
The summit of South Uncanoonuc sports what guidebook editor Gene Daniell described as "probably the finest forest of communications towers in New Hampshire."
The towers were almost like an eerie form of metal sculpture art in the fog. Maybe someone should create a "Field Guide to the Towers."
The summit high point and former fire tower site is behind this fence.
A large old hemlock along the Summit Trail.
Signage at the junction with the Link Trail, which I followed downhill to Mountain Road and the pass between South and North Uncanoonuc.
The Red Dot Trail was a pleasant, fairly steep route up North, coming off the Class 6 Road Trail..
The summit of North is a pasture-like area with some gnarled oaks. Before visiting the high point I descended the eroded Blue Trail to the Class 6 Road Trail, then came back up.
Signs at the summit of North Uncanoonuc.
This summit is unspoiled and attractive, though views are limited mainly to the "bristling" summit of neighboring South Uncanoonuc.
Late in the afternoon I started down the White Dot Trail.
This trail presented a pretty steep and rocky descent through a beautiful hemlock forest. I completed the afternoon loop with a walk up Mountain Road and an unnamed path back to the Link Trail, a climb back to the Summit Trail, and a descent to the Mountain Base Rd. trailhead with darkness drawing on. To cover all the official trails on the Uncanoonucs (except the Bickford Trail, which leads to a beaver wetland; I ran out of daylight) entailed about 7 1/2 mi. of hiking with 2200 ft. or so of elevation gain.
SHORT THANKSGIVING WEEK HIKES
BOWEN BROOK BEAVER SWAMP: 11/25/13
Having seen a large open beaver wetland along Bowen Brook on Google Earth, I decided to go check it out on a short afternoon hike. I walked about a mile up Bowen Brook Road (FR 352) off Rt. 112 between its two intersections with Rt. 116.
About a quarter-mile up, a wildlife opening on the R offered a unique view of Mt. Moosilauke.
In a branch of Little Tunnel Ravine, I spotted a slide I'd never seen before - presumably from Tropical Storm Irene. Hope to check it out next spring.
I bushwhacked from the road down to the wetland and found a nice view of Cobble Hill to the north.
Looks like a nice hardwood whack, though views would be only through the trees.
A circuitous whack brought me to a spot towards the north end of the wetland with a fine Moosilauke vista.
The top of the big Irene slide in Tunnel (Benton) Ravine can be seen under the ridgeline on the R, and at the lower L is a glimpse of the big cascade in Little Tunnel Ravine.
A bit of alpenglow on the way back, at the wildlife opening.
DICKEY MOUNTAIN LEDGE, 11/28/13
Carol and I did a pre-Thanksgiving dinner hike up to the first ledges on Dickey Mountain on a cold, crisp afternoon. There was some bare ground in the hardwoods.
A parade of icicles marked the approach to the ledges.
The big Dickey slab was mostly ice-free.
Carol making her way up the slab, with the summits of Dickey and Welch beyond.
Sandwich Dome and its great southern ridges.
The mysterious stone circle in the ledge above the big slab. Some feel this may have a Native American origin, while others believe it's a geologic phenomenon. We turned around here as there were major ice flows on the ledges above.
Heading down the slab into the wide southern view. It was nice to feel we'd earned our turkey feast, at least a little bit.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
BLACK MOUNTAIN & HOWE HILL: 11/21/13
The Benton Range, the chain of interesting small rocky peaks on the western edge of the White Mountains, is one of my favorite destinations in late fall. On this partly sunny, chilly day, I returned to 2830-ft. Black Mountain, perhaps the best viewpoint on the range, and paid my first visit to its wooded northern neighbor, 2681-ft. Howe Hill.
I usually ascend Black via the Chippewa Trail from the SW, but today I opted for the easier northern route via the Black Mountain Trail. I chose to park at the end of the maintained section of Howe Hill Road and not drive the final rough 0.2 mi. to "designated" parking. You can park in front of the fence at the left, taking care not to block the homeowner's driveway.
This is the small parking area you can drive to with a high-clearance vehicle.
Trail sign at the parking area. The 2.4 mi. distance is actually from where I parked at the end of the good road.
After the easy initial mile, the trail climbs steadily for a half-mile on the old tractor road that served the former fire tower on Black. The trail is well-maintained by my friends Joanne and Kevin Jones and offers unusually good footing for the Whites.
I encountered these two local residents - a cow and a young bull - half way up, and a third (another cow) just around the corner. I don't recall ever seeing three well-grown moose together before.
Ice flows - a familiar sight on November trails. Luckily they were not extensive on the Black Mountain Trail.
From the western ledges of Black you overlook a vast spread of the Connecticut River valley and the entire chain of the Green Mountains, from Stratton Mtn. in the south to the Jay Peaks near the Canadian border. The Mt. Washington Observatory reported 130-mi. visibility today. The farthest point I could identify was Mt. Snow in southern Vermont, more than 90 mi. away. Black is just not quite high enough to provide any glimpses of the Adirondacks.
The Killington Range on the horizon.
The fields of North Haverhill with the Signal Mountain range on the R and the long Abraham-Ellen ridge on the L.
Looking south to nearby Sugarloaf Mtn. with Smarts, Cube and Piermont to its R.
A closer look at Smarts-Cube-Piermont.
November light looking SW.
The summit ledge, made of heavily folded and contorted quartzite. Site of an active fire tower from 1911-1964. The tower was torn down in 1978.
Holes and spikes from the old tower.
Looking down the Benton Range to Jeffers Mtn. and Sugarloaf. Mt. Cardigan is in the distance between them.
Tipping Rock on the E end of the summit, with Moosilauke beyond. Black has one of the best views of the Moose.
Another angle on Tipping Rock.
The Kinsmans with the Franconia Range behind, Howe Hill in foreground.
Looking NE to the distant Nash Stream mountains and the Pilot Range.
A sprawling upland rises to Mts. Clough and Moosilauke.
Benton or Tunnel Ravine, where I visited two slides in October, both of which provided a peek at Black Mountain. The 1973 slide can be seen on the middle of the L wall, and the bottom of the 2011 Irene slide can just be glimpsed as the R part of the "V" low down under the summit.
From the east ledges I made a rough and prickly bushwhack along the NE ridge of Black. By chance I stumbled upon what appeared to be the old fire warden's spring. In the 1940s the Howe Hill Trail ran along this ridge, and the guidebook description mentioned a spring 35 ft. from the trail.
I was delighted to break out into these woods in the Black-Howe Hill col - beautiful open hardwoods like those found on many ridges in the Catskills. Similar woods can be found on the ridgecrest south of Jeffers Mtn. and on the south side of Chokecherry Hill on the south ridge of Moosilauke.
Some prickers, but only a minor hindrance.
A peek back at Black.
Near the little 2681-ft. summit knob of Howe Hill, a partial view of Moosilauke.
Wandering through hardwood heaven!
Sun's gettin' low, time to head for home.
Click here for a detailed description of Black Mountain's history, trails and views.