Tuesday, March 12, 2013


On the third day in a row of warm, spring-like temperatures, a hike with a good firm snowshoe track seemed like a good idea. I chose Mt. Jackson, a longtime winter favorite that gets a lot of winter traffic because it is relatively short, if steep in places, and provides some great views.

At the trailhead on Route 302 I was greeted with a smooth and solid snowshoe track on the Webster-Jackson Trail. In the summer I really don't like this trail at all, as it is heavily eroded with rough, wet footing. It's a much more pleasant trip in winter, and the conditions this day were ideal. I strapped on my MSRs and plodded up to the side trail to Bugle Cliff, 0.6 mile and 500 feet above the road. This spot is a good mini-hike for anyone staying at the Highland Center or elsewhere in the Crawford Notch area, though caution should be used at the cliff. Apparently some folks were impressed enough by the spot to add commentary to this trail sign.

The view towards Mt. Tom, the Rosebrook Range and the Highland Center from Bugle Cliff.

After a quick stop at the cliff, I continued up the main trail to a completely-buried crossing of Flume Cascade Brook. With heavy rain due the next day, I figured this might be the last hike of the season on which I would cross a brook on a good snow bridge.

Other than three short, very steep pitches near Bugle Cliff, the climbing is moderate to easy up to the fork in the trail at 2800 ft.

The warm temperatures were bringing clumps of snow down from the trees. This big snow bomb was in the middle of the trail - that would hurt!

Some nice open fir woods farther up the trail.

Pretty good snow depth up here.

From a fir wave, the summit of Jackson is in sight ahead.

This spot is a steep ledgy scramble in summer, an easy snow ramp in late winter.

Steep, winding climb up the cone.

The final steep pitch on open ledges, today was as easy as it gets for this spot.

Trail signs at the summit, with the Willey Range beyond. Good visibility today, despite a high grey cloud deck.

Mts. Field, Tom, Avalon and Willard, with the Twins and Mt. Hale behind.

View of the Presidentials from the actual high point of Jackson, where the scrub was buried in windpacked snow.

View SW to Sandwich Range, Carrigain-Hancock, and nearby Mt. Webster and Mt. Willey.

Zoom on Carrigain and Hancock, with snowy Signal Ridge especially prominent. The Osceolas peer over in back between them.

Pasaconaway, Whiteface, Sleepers and Tripyramids behind Duck Pond, Bemis and Nancy.

No climb of Jackson is complete without a visit from the locals.

Two Gray Jays found me shortly after I arrived and alternated feeding on tidbits from my hand and off the snow.

View north to the Pliny Range - Starr King, Waumbek and North & South Weeks - with Mt. Cabot peering over.

Cherry Mountain and distant peaks in Vermont.

Looking south down the Saco valley.

Across the Dry River valley to Mt. Isolation and the elongated crest of Mt. Davis.

The lower Montalban Ridge peaks - Stairs, Resolution and Crawford.

Mt. Washington presides over the vast and wild Dry River valley.

With temperatures in the low 40s, I  was able to spend two hours enjoying the marvelous views from Jackson.This was the most sheltered spot from the SW wind.

I decided to make the loop over Mt. Webster via the Webster Cliff Trail. After a steep drop off the cone, the trail climbed over a hump with a peek back at the summit of Jackson.

Unlike the solidly packed track to Jackson, this trail had a choppy, chewed-up track from a mix of snowshoers and barebooters.

The snow was deep enough to put many branches at face level.

The trail passed by several fir waves with partial views.

While poking around one of these, my left snowshoe plunged into a spruce trap. I should have known better!

View from a fir wave taken from the trail.

Another fir wave vista, looking back at the Presys framed by Pierce and Jackson.

They're baaaack..having followed me across the ridge, I assume.

One of the ridgetop residents keeping an eye on things at the trail junction near the summit of Webster.

A kingly view of the Presidentials from the summit of Webster.

At the summit of Webster, looking out towards Carrigain, Hancock and Willey.

A zoom on the remote twin southern knobs of Shoal Pond Peak, deep in the Pemi Wilderness. The ski trails of Loon are in the distance.

Webster provides a unique angle on the Willey Range and Crawford Notch.

Mt. Jackson from Mt. Webster.

The bare-booted track was pretty rough heading down the Webster Branch of Webster-Jackson Trail.

The steep down-and-up crossing of Silver Cascade Brook.

This is a beautiful cascade in summer, but just a big snow face in winter. After the steep climb up from the brook, it was smooth sailing down the lower trail to complete a very enjoyable 6.5 mile loop with 2550 ft. of elevation gain. Click here for lots more info on Mt. Webster, including a detailed view description.


  1. A fine circuit and a great report! You mention the Rosebrook range. Would you make a suggestion
    as to how one would access the ridge, primarily Mts Stickney and Echo. Snowmobile trail from Zealand rd? Is it worth while or just a piece of spruce hell up there?
    Steve, always a pleasure to view your photos and text from your field reports. I may not comment all that much but please know that I am following along. Merci beaucoup,
    Mark(formely of Freedom, now at Silver lake,Madison). PS... Amazing pictures of Alpenglow from your Waumbeck foray on 3/8/13!!

    1. Mark,

      Thank you for your comments - very much appreciated! Many years ago some friends and I bushwhacked the Rosebrook Range from Mt. Oscar across to Mt. Echo and probably to the next summit. If I recall, the going wasn't bad. There are great view ledges on the back side of Oscar. Back then the ski trails didn't go all the way to the top of Oscar and Rosebrook like they do now. The ski trails are the best bet to get up on the ridge. We may have descended the Ammonoosuc Spring X-C trail from the Bretton Woods mountain cabin up there, can't remember for sure, but you could run into a current logging operation partway down the slope; it might be best to backtrack. Have fun exploring!

      The alpenglow pictures were pure luck. I got a late start and was coming out late and all of a sudden the sun appeared.


  2. Looks like you had a great day up there. I love that loop ans the views from Mt Webster. Particularly looking down the slide into the notch. Great report and photos.

    I've enjoyed your last 2 4K adventures as well. You squeezed about as much out of Tecumseh for views that I've seen anyone do. And those late day photos on the Starr King trail were stunning.

    Thanks for sharing,

    1. Thanks, Joe - it was a fine day on two old favorites.

      That certainly was the most views I've ever squeezed out of Tecumseh. The new and improved summit view is pretty grand. That alpenglow on Starr King was a matter of right place/right time.

      Keep on trekkin,