DICKEY NOTCH: 2/14/12
On a warm, almost spring-like Valentine's Day, I made a leisurely trek into one of my favorite little nooks in the mountains: Dickey Notch, the quiet pass between Dickey Mountain and Cone Mountain. The notch is in the town of Thornton, SW of Waterville Valley. The Brown Ash Swamp Mountain Bike Trail leads along the floor, passing several beaver ponds.
The bike trail leaves the Dickey side of the Welch-Dickey loop just 0.1 mi. from the trailhead.
It follows an old woods road at easy grades. The trail was hardpacked, even icy in places. I suspect most use of this trail is from local residents.
The forest is mostly hardwood, though it does pass through this nice hemlock stand.
The little string of beaver ponds is reached at about 0.9 mi. Rising behind is a rocky knob, a northern spur of Cone Mountain, which I planned to bushwhack to after walking through the notch.
Beaver pond #2.
A closer look at the knob.
The upper (northernmost) beaver pond has a lodge. Not sure if it was occupied or not.
Looking back down the beaver ponds, with a glimpse of the Campton Range.
The trail meanders between boulders.
Beautiful hardwood forest on the floor of the notch.
After passing the steep eastern slopes of the knob, I put on my snowshoes and headed into the woods, approaching it from the north. There was a bit of hobblebush tussling at first.
The snow was crusty, my snowshoes barely denting the surface at times.
An icy ledge in the forest.
I emerged first on a lower ledge with a view of Fisher Mountain. There was a direct line of ledge leading up from here, but it looked too steep for my liking, so I circled back into the woods.
I made a fairly steep ascent through conifers, then turned left for a final semi-open scramble to the top of the 1689-ft. knob.
At the open summit you get a close-up view of the north face of Cone Mountain. The prominent ledge in the center is a great viewpoint that I've visited several times.
It was balmy in the sun with no wind, and the glacial erratic in the center made a convenient seat. I was surprised to find tracks from a single hiker who had visited recently.
By moving around, I had views in various directions, here looking west to Mt. Kineo and Mt. Cushman.
I dropped to a ledge on the east side for a view of Sandwich Dome and the two Black Mountains, beyond the east side of Dickey Notch. The whitish area of the beaver ponds can just be seen at the bottom.
A zoom on Sandwich.
Looking across the notch at the broad mass of Dickey Mountain.
A couple of years ago I visited an off-trail ledge on Dickey, visible in the photo above, that had a neat view back to the knob and Cone Mountain.
Another ledge on the knob offered a long view to the north.
The Franconias (L) and Scar Ridge (R).
Looking NE to many spurs of Mt. Tecumseh, a very wild area with no official trails, and a wonderful place for bushwhack exploration.
In this photo are (L to R) Fisher Mountain, the tip of Tecumseh, Hogback Mountain under the cone of SW Green, and Green Mountain.
Bald Mountain rises in the middle of the long ridge extending SW from West Tecumseh. There's a great little viewpoint on the SE side of Bald, and several open ledges on the lower shoulder seen on the L.
A hazy view of Moosilauke.
After enjoying the views, I dropped off the knob to a flat little ridge on the SW side, which connects with the main mass of Cone Mountain. Here there was a pair of large oak trees.
A good bear tree, they do love the beech nuts.
Ruffed grouse tracks (I believe) in the snow.
I took a more direct route back to the bike trail, dropping steeply to the SE for 200 ft. of elevation, then more moderately, all through hardwoods.
Just before reaching the trail, I crossed the small brook that drains from the beaver ponds. The day's trail and bushwhack loop totaled a leisurely 3+ miles, getting me home in plenty of time to go out for Valentine's dinner with my sweetheart.