Two days earlier stalwart volunteer Dave Stinson and I had done a spring trail work trip on the west part of the UNH Trail - a full day for Dave and a half day for me. We work on this trail section through the Adopt-a-Trail program of the WMNF Saco Ranger District. (There are still some trails available for adoption; contact Trails Manager Cristin Bailey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-447-5448, x 112.) Due to other commitments that morning, I only had time to get a little ways above Allen's Ledge on the trail work trip.
For today's hike, I had a hankering to see the view from the East Ledges - one of my favorite vistas in all the Whites - on the eastern part of the trail, and perhaps hike the entire 4.8-mile UNH Trail loop over Hedgehog Mountain.
At the bottom of the east side of the loop, Tropical Storm Irene deepened a washout along the trail. This summer the trail will be relocated to bypass this section.
Beautiful hardwood glade where the trail crosses the headwaters of White Brook.
Approaching the East Ledges, the trail switchbacks through a fine spruce forest.
Vista NE to Bear Mountain, Big Attitash Mountain and North Moat.
Arriving at the East Ledges, you're greeted with this classic view of Mt. Passaconaway.
The eastern spurs of Passaconaway, cloaked in spring greens: Square Ledge under Wonalancet Hedgehog, with Nanamocomuck Peak on the R. The other trail we work on, Passaconaway Cutoff, runs along the flank of Square Ledge.
The view over the broad wilderness valley of Oliverian Brook, with Paugus Pass at its head.
The broad wooded mass of Mt. Paugus.
The Three Sisters and Mt. Chocorua.
Climber's anchor - rock climbers first explored the possibilities here back in 1928.
Peering down the slab.
Looking east across the face of the ledges.
After an hour and a half sojourn, I headed west from the main East Ledges. Here the trail tightropes along the brink of a cliff. Good flat footing makes it safe.
More great views from the western section of the East Ledges.
From here you can see the Sleepers and South Tripyramid to the west.
The cliff-faced summit of Hedgehog looms ahead. The trail circles way around to the west side to make the ascent.
On the SW flank of the mountain the trail passes through an interesting area of boulders and small cliffs.
Beautiful section of open spruce forest.
The trail makes a zig-zagging, ledgy climb - a fun section.
View over Oliverian Brook valley from a prow-shaped ledge at a turn in the trail.
Just below the summit, a ledge on the L of the trail offers a fine view of West Sleeper, the Tripyramids and the Fool Killer rising from the upper Sabbaday Brook valley. The middle of the Downes Brook valley is in the foreground. The dark, conical peak on the R has been informally dubbed "South Potash."
To the NW are Mt. Kancamagus, Potash Mountain, Mt. Huntington, the Hancocks and Mt. Carrigain.
The Sisters and Chocorua beyond the northern spurs of Paugus.
Descending from the summit of Hedgehog, a rain shower misted over the northern view towards Mt. Tremont and Mt. Washington.
A steady descent through the spruces. I skipped the side trip to Allen's Ledge since I had been there two days earlier.
One of the waterbars we cleaned on that previous trip.
New clearcut beside the lower part of the trail.
The famous double waterbar. We usually team up for this one.
Late afternoon light on the railroad grade section at the bottom of the trail, a relaxing end to a leisurely circuit over Hedgehog.