I joined Linda Moore for a hike up the Jericho Road Trail to Cooley Hill, a former firetower peak on the western edge of the Whites, then took a new ridgecrest trail across to the Cooley-Jericho Community Forest, with a bushwhack to a unique view ledge en route.
The trailhead sign just off Rt. 116 in Easton.
The McConnell cellar hole is tucked into the woods beside the trail.
The Jericho Road Trail is a mellow woods walk with easy grades and excellent footing. It won't be that way much longer as a major USFS logging project will soon reconstruct the lower half of the trail into a gravel haul road, and there will be mucho cutting along most of the trail, though some will be buffered. (There always seems to be money for building logging roads. What about a new bridge for the Moriah Brook Trail?)
More good walking.
Tall slender maples, above the cutting area.
One of the biggest sugar maples we've seen.
About 0.1 mile before the summit a side path leads to a restricted view to the Kinsman/Cannon/Lafayette area. The higher peaks were socked in.
The supports for the Cooley Hill fire tower, which operated from 1939-1948. Cooley Hill was named for a local Easton farmer in the 1800s.
From the tower site we followed the brand-new and as yet nameless yellow-blazed trail that leads across the ridge through the Cooley-Jericho Community Forest. The first part winds through large areas cutover by the previous owner about 8-10 years ago.
Lots of prickers and berries, a good place to run into a bear.
The next half-mile leads through a corner of the WMNF.
Near here we bushwhacked down to a neat ledge I had first visited back in 1990.
A jagged rock formation.
The ledge has a great view of the Kinsmans across the Easton valley.
Linda couldn't resist exploring a cave area behind the ledge.
Climbing out of the cave.
Following her lead, I dropped into the cave for a look. Here's the "View from the Bottom."
A peek through the trees at Bald Peak (just left of center).
This ridgetop glade was magical.
Fields of ferns.
What a fine old tree!
Loved this place.
Ferns display fall colors, too.
A nicely constructed section along the east slope of Cole Hill. Mountain bikers through NEMBA have done a lot of work on this trail.
Junction of the Blue and Yellow Trails.
In the northern part of Cooley-Jericho, the yellow-blazed trail briefly merges with a blue-blazed loop and passes this ledge seat with a partial view.
We followed the blue trail down through young growth to a ledge with a better view.
Unfortunately the high peaks were still socked in.
Linda makes a friend.
A view to Vermont's Northeast Kingdom.
There are more views at the trailhead at the end of Trumpet Round Road in Sugar Hill.
Managed by the Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust, the 840-acre Cooley-Jericho Community Forest is a joint project of the towns of Sugar Hill, Easton, Landaff and Franconia. My friend Linda has done much trailwork here and also frequently leads nature walks. For more info visit http://cooley-jericho.org/