THREE PONDS LONG LOOP: 10/11/16
On a gorgeous October day I enjoyed a trail-and-bushwhack loop through the hardwood-rich Three Ponds area between Carr Mountain and Mount Kineo. This small but expansive mini-wilderness holds many ponds and wetlands from which to admire the foliage.
These tree has long guarded the first pitch up on the south end of Three Ponds Trail.
A familiar beaver meadow on Sucker Brook.
Signs point the way.
A Carr Mountain ridge glimpsed along the Three Ponds Trail.
The trail briefly jogs onto this new snowmobile trail.
The hidden Lower Pond, reached by a short bushwhack off the snowmobile trail.
A mat of Leatherleaf fringes Lower Pond.
I found a scene of peace and beauty at the Middle Pond.
Getting Mount Kineo into the picture.
The water level was way down, exposing many rocks at the south end of the pond.
A colorful arm of Carr Mountain.
One of several views as the trail follows the shore a few feet back in the woods.
A new sign for Donkey Hill Cutoff.
The beaver dam crossing just past the Donkey Hill Cutoff junction was easy today.
Nice view of Carr from the NE corner of Middle Pond.
A closer look at Carr's summit.
Heading to the Upper Pond.
The water level was down at the Upper Pond. A fisherman who came by said it was the lowest level he'd seen in 30 years.
Looking towards the south end of the pond.
Upper Pond has a fine sitting rock at the end of the spur path.
Beyond here, a pleasant surprise awaited. The notoriously overgrown Three Ponds Trail north of the ponds had received a recent thorough brushing, at least as far as the mile and a half I took it. This section, at least, is now a fine remote woods walk instead of a near-bushwhack.
This is what part of this section of trail looked like in June 2015. Big thanks to whoever cleared it out!
Farther north I bushwhacked down to the shore of remote Foxglove Pond.
A lovely name for this hidden gem.
A Foxglove Pond friend.
The bog at the north end of Foxglove Pond offers an unusual view of Carr Mountain and its long north ridge. The trail corridor leads through the edge of the bog and is very squishy; best to make a 100-yard bushwhack bypass through the woods, ending up at this view. A wild spot!
Carr Mountain and its principal northern spur.
A great time of year to walk in the woods.
At the four-mile mark the Three Ponds Trail crosses a snowmobile trail; the 1 1/2 mile section to the east is a newly constructed and ultra-wide route connecting with the Mount Kineo Trail.
Above the snowmobile trail, Three Ponds Trail narrows and requires some attention to follow, though there was still evidence of recent brushing. I don't know if the trail was brushed all the way to its northern end.
I bushwhacked east along the slope of Whitcher Hill, passing this interesting fungus.
My main destination was this sunny, grassy ledge, which I had visited in 2004. Back then it offered some interesting restricted views over the ponds to the south thanks to branches broken by the 1998 ice storm.
Tree growth has obscured the lower part of the vista.
But it still provides a neat perspective on Carr Mountain.
Doin' the twist.
I whacked down to a small lower ledge that John "1HappyHiker" Compton visited in 2013. Here there was a very narrow vista of the Brown Brook Marshes, my next destination. Stinson Mountain rises behind.
Next was a steep whack down the south face of Whitcher Hill.
I followed the new snowmobile trail for a short distance under tall hardwoods.
I whacked over to the northernmost of the mile-long chain of beaver meadows known as the Brown Brook Marshes.
As I recalled from previous visits, there were some wonderful open hardwood glades running parallel to the wetlands.
Can't get enough of this!
Whitcher Hill from another meadow.
At this glade a bull moose appeared ahead of me - always a concern during rutting season. (Too far away for a photo.) He spotted me but wasn't aggressive. I stood stock still for ten minutes as he slowly and intermittently moved away. Then I gave a wide berth to his direction of travel.
Evening sun on another meadow.
Along the Mount Kineo Trail.