EXPLORING OFF ROUTE 25C: 5/10/11
1) LAKE CONSTANCE
The plan for this nice spring day was to do three short to medium length hikes off NH Route 25C on the western fringe of the White Mountain National Forest. The first objective was Lake Constance, a beautiful backcountry pond that was added to the WMNF in the late 1990s as part of a 3,400-acre acquisition in the Lake Tarleton area. I last visited this pond in the mid-1990s, at which time the surrounding woods had just been logged pretty heavily. It was time to see how the area had fared since then, and what the unofficial walking access route was like nowadays.
I parked on Route 25C by the bridge over Eastman Brook and headed into the woods on a rocky old logging road, now part of the WMNF. In a short distance I bushwhacked down to a sizeable and nameless beaver pond - a beautiful spot to start the day off with.
Along the shore were some quartzite sitting rocks.
Eastman Brook flows out from the pond.
I returned to the logging road, then followed a snowmobile trail a short distance, and bushwhacked up a steep hardwood slope to a 1605-ft. knob with exposed quartzite ledges, scrambling through this rocky area along the way.
Some lower outcrops provided initial views, but higher ledges promised a wider outlook.
Apparently there is a blazed route here, but there was little to no evidence of a footway.
From the higher ledges there was a fine view west to the countryside of the Connecticut River valley.
A notable feature of the view was Peaked Mountain (1558 ft.) in Piermont, most of which is privately owned. Peregrine falcons sometimes nest on its impressive cliff face.
Farther north, Vermont's Signal Mountain Range could be seen on the horizon.
I continued up to more ledges at the summit of the knob.
Piermont Mountain rises nearby to the south.
I bushwhacked north and picked up the unofficial footpath that leads to the west shore of Lake Constance. This is a lovely route leading through red pines and across quartzite ledges. The area had recovered nicely from the 1990s logging cut.
Midway along the long, narrow pond, a couple of side paths led to the shore.
Trailing arbutus was blooming in profusion.
A fine rock bench provided a seat for lunch.
Looking south down the pond from the shore near the bench.
Heading back on the path along a quartzite hogback - a nice view down to the water.
Ledges along the path. For the return trip I followed the footpath, which segued to an old logging road. This, in turn, descended to a clearing along the newer, rocky logging road. By this route, Lake Constance is about 1.2 mi. from Rt. 25C.
Driving east along Rt. 25C, I made a brief stop to see Lake Katherine, an undeveloped pond now within the WMNF.
Next stop was the boat launch on Lake Tarleton, for a view across to Mt. Moosilauke. The flat top and eastern cliff of Webster Slide Mountain can be seen on the L.
The broad crest of Mt. Mist rose closer by to the NE. That was my objective for later in the afternoon.
2) ORE HILL
Next up was a half-mile climb to the top of Ore Hill for some spring wildflower viewing. This spot is noted as a rich mesic forest community, a nutrient-enriched hardwood forest that is scarce in the White Mountains.
There were lots of spring beauties along the trail.
The hardwoods of Ore Hill are open and airy.
The trail dips through this neat gully.
These interesting trailside ledges were adorned with wildflowers.
I took a break on the trail here, looking back up a rise.
Blue cohosh was emerging, and a few were in bloom. There were plenty of trout lilies and red trilliums as well.
Best of all, there were a fair number of Dutchman's breeches blooming along the trail. Ore Hill is a great place to visit in early spring.
3) MOUNT MIST
After descending from Ore Hill, I walked a short way down Rt. 25C and continued north on the Appalachian Trail (Wachipauka Pond Trail) for my third hike of the day. This time the objective was the wooded summit of Mount Mist (2230 ft.) and a nearby outlook.
The first part of the trail led through a piney forest that was once agricultural land.
Farther along there were dusky birches mixed with small softwoods.
Once past a gentle descent off a spur knoll, the forest was mostly open hardwoods, which is why the hike to Mist is a spring favorite of mine.
Trout lilies were blooming by the hundreds.
There were plenty of red trilliums on display, too.
Mist is cloaked with hardwoods right to the top.
The summit sign is not at the actual high point, which is a bump to the east of the trail.
I continued north on the AT, descending several hundred feet to a short side path to a ledge with a partial view. The cool DOC sign, "Scenic View - Beware of Tourists," was missing - perhaps stolen for a souvenir? From here you can see part of Wachipauka Pond, and the entire south ridge of Moosilauke, from South Peak over Hurricane Mountain and Chokecherry Hill, and down to Bald Hill.
A profile of Mount Kineo through a gap in the branches. I spent twenty minutes here in the quiet of early evening, and was treated to the call of a loon on Wachipauka Pond, echoing off the surrounding cliffs, and then a trio of Barred Owls exchanging hoots in the forest below.
I went just a little farther along the AT for a glimpse of the Webster Slide cliffs through a break in the tree cover.
On the way back I bushwhacked to a couple of openings atop the NE cliffs of Mount Mist.
The vista included Mt. Moosilauke and Mount Clough rising above Wachipauka Pond.
Also in view were Webster Slide Mountain (L) and the Benton Range (R), including the great cliff face of Owl's Head.
The pond was like quicksilver on this cloudy evening.
A closer look at the Moose, with the slides of Slide Brook ravine visible.
On the way back along the trail, the sun broke through for some golden light in the hardwoods, capping off an interesting day along Route 25C.