Monday, October 6, 2014


On this gorgeous early October day a chest cold had me a bit under the weather. I shelved a plan for a bushwhack deep in the Pemi Wilderness and opted for a much shorter hike (5 miles round trip, 1300 ft. of elevation gain) to the ledgy summit of Black Mountain in the Benton Range. Lounging in the sun on one of the great smaller mountains in the Whites sounded like a great option for the day.

I parked at the end of the maintained section of Howe Hill Road and set off on the lower logging road section of the Black Mountain Trail. Even normally dull logging roads are pretty in the fall.

An interesting split tree along the road.


Some nice hardwood forest about halfway up the trail. This route follows an old tractor road and except for one long, steady pitch and a couple of shorter bursts, the grades are relatively easy. Along the way I grabbed two geocaches.

After arriving at the summit and finding a third geocache, I settled in on a south-facing ledge for some serious Vitamin D treatment.

A bright blueberry patch contrasts with distant foliage.

 Looking south down the Benton Range, with the patterns of old clearcuts visible.

 After a snooze I headed over to Tipping Rock at the east end of the ledgy summit crest.

The expansive eastern ledges of Black have plenty of room to spread out.

Folds in the quartzite bedrock.

The Kinsmans and Franconia Range beyond nearby Howe Hill.

Benton (Tunnel) Ravine showing several old slide tracks. The one farthest on the left fell in 1973. My best guess is that the third track from the left is the slide that was utilized by the 1930s vintage DOC Tunnel Ravine Trail.

The blueberry shrubs were brilliant this day.

After a while I went across to the western ledges, where the Green Mountains were visible from Stratton Mountain in the south to Jay Peak in the north.

The Signal Mountain Range is prominent in east-central Vermont. From here I could also see the towns of Woodsville and North Haverhill, NH and Bradford, VT.

Smarts, Cube and Piermont Mountains lined up to the south.

On the way down the Black Mountain Trail I made a bushwhack loop over Howe Hill, which features some beautiful open hardwood glades on its ridgecrest.

Shadows creeping into Benton Ravine.

Another beautiful glade.

Late afternoon sun in the glades.


  1. Hey Steve,

    Always a pleasure to read your reports and enjoy your wonderful photos. Thanks!

    Chris and I did another "Black" mtn yesterday: Redlined Black Cap, etc, near N Conway. Spectacular!! Kind of made up for Three Ponds Trail. ;-)

    1. Thank, Sue! Glad you and Chris enjoyed the Green Hills. Black Cap is definitely one of the "big bang for the buck" hikes. Peaked & Middle aren't too shabby either. It's funny, a couple days after you guys stopped by some local folks came in and asked about the Three Ponds/Hubbard/Kineo loop. I gave them fair warning about that northern Three Ponds section!