Friday, January 10, 2014


Looking for some good snowshoeing, away from hard-packed and icy trails, I headed over to the Breezy Point trailhead on the SE side of Mt. Moosilauke for a ramble to a beaver pond on Merrill Brook and the low, hardwood-cloaked summit of Bald Hill. I'd visited these spots in November with John "1HappyHiker" Compton, and looked forward to seeing them in winter. I also wanted to wander down the west ridge of Bald Hill and see if there were any views from some small ledges visible on Google Earth.

It was a chilly morning at Breezy Point, as clouds were slowly clearing with a brisk breeze. The open fields here - once the site of the Moosilauke Inn and Merrill's Mountain House - offer fine mountain views, including Carr Mountain in this photo. This spot rivals Ferncroft at the base of the Sandwich Range for the title of most scenic trailhead in the Whites.

The initial approach was along a gently rising old logging road, which someone had snowshoed and skied on recently.

After the old road turns left, an obscure corridor continues ahead, partly an even older road, partly an overgrown herd path.

Care is required to follow this route, which is obscured in places by hobblebush and other brushy growth.

The route leads to the beaver pond at the head of Merrill Brook, a wonderful secluded spot overlooked by Chokecherry Hill.

The pond was well-frozen, giving me this view of an old beaver lodge and the long dam beyond.

The snow was churned up on the north shore, and upon closer inspection it turned out that a moose convention had recently been held here.

Some Wild Turkeys also joined the party.

After a leisurely lunch in the sun at the pond, I headed up to Bald Hill through nice open woods. There was good snow cover here, a heavy mealy powder, not crusty at all. Excellent snowshoeing!

Snowshoe Hares crossing paths.

This ledge is the high point of Bald Hill (2397 ft.).

The view from the top.

Old but graceful beeches, in tandem.

Descending along the west ridge of Bald Hill.

A glorious hardwood forest stretched across this broad ridge - almost felt like I was in the Catskills.

In one area a number of the maples had this curious bent shape, all leaning in the same direction. I sent this picture to Dave Govatski, a retired forester from the WMNF and an expert on anything to do with the White Mountains. His reply was: "I suspect it was an ice storm that hit when the trees were just saplings. The tension and compression left them in a bent over position until the tree leader started to seek the sun. Then it grew up straight. Fascinating."

Just before the hardwoods gave way to spruces, I passed this tiny pondlet with moose tracks across it.

The main ledgy patches were, as I suspected, viewless. This one was another moose hangout.

A bit down the slope I found a steep ledge with a view out to Mt. Cube and Vermont's Killington Range on the horizon.

Smarts Mountain could be seen through the trees.

The winter equivalent of a boot shot.

From the top of the ledge, a framed vista of Piermont Mountain.

On the way back there was a glimpse of the snowy South Peak of Moosilauke through the trees.

Hardwood heaven in late afternoon sun. An intoxicating bushwhack!

Dance of the maples.

A peek at the great Owl's Head cliff at the south end of the Benton Range.

On Bald Hill, a moose had crossed my earlier snowshoe track.

Late sun on Chokecherry Hill from the beaver pond.

Alpenglow on Mt. Kineo, from Breezy Point.

Whitcher Hill and Carr Mountain.

Before heading home, I made a very short side trip up the Carriage Road to look at this old foundation, probably an outbuilding for the Moosilauke Inn or Merrill's Mountain House. Lots of interesting stuff in this area!


  1. Steve, having been in this area with you in late Autumn, your photos and narrative were of particular interest to me. It is quite an interesting and lovely area, regardless of whether it is cloaked in its Autumn or its Winter finery.

    Thank you for sharing the response you received from David Govatski about the bent trees. Given the number of ice storms that have occurred over the years, I guess it might be reasonable to assume that there are other similar stands of bent trees in other locations that are waiting to be discovered!


    1. Thanks, John. I really enjoyed our exploration here in November, and it was great to go back. This is one of those really appealing "under the radar" areas. The hardwoods on the west ridge of Bald Hill rivaled those we descended through on the south side of Chokecherry Hill.

      When I Googled the bent trees, I found out that some trees with that shape down in the southern mountains were purposely shaped by the resident Native Americans to serve as markings for the trails they used. Easier to spot than blazes!