The broad basin between Carr Mountain and Mt. Kineo in the southwestern Whites is a small but very attractive wild area, dotted with ponds and wetlands and cloaked largely in a fine northern hardwood forest. It had been quite a while since I'd used the long, lightly-used northern approach to the area along the Three Ponds Trail from Rt. 118. For years this trail section was a "problem child," choked with hobblebush and very difficult to follow as it climbed over the flank of Whitcher Hill. A few years ago the trail was thoroughly brushed out, and it remains in good shape today, though there are some sections that require care to follow, especially after leaf-fall. For experienced hikers, this route provides an attractive woods walk in a remote setting.
The first 0.8 mile of the trail has recently been widened into a snowmobile interstate.
At a fork with a sign the hiking trail splits left off the snowmobile trail and becomes a narrower footpath.
After meandering gradually upward for some distance, the trail ascends the north slope of Whitcher Hill through a vast and beautiful hardwood forest.
This climb is especially enjoyable amidst October colors.
The ridgetop hardwoods on the flat northern spur of Whitcher Hill are reminiscent of forests in the Catskills.
A wild and remote stretch of trail runs at easy grades along the western flank of Whitcher Hill.
There are several bogs near the trail in this area. This one has a healthy population of cotton grass.
After descending into the upper basin of Sucker Brook, the trail passes through hobblebush patches, displaying multiple fall colors.
One of the scenic highlights of this basin is the expansive open bog on the north side of Foxglove Pond. The trail crosses the edge of the bog, and it was rather squishy even in this dry year. It's possible to bushwhack through the woods around it in wetter seasons.
Looking across to the northernmost spurs of Carr Mountain.
This elongated view of Carr Mountain is a favorite. The summit is at the far left end.
Zoom on the darkly-wooded summit.
Mt. Kineo peers over in the distance.
Still some fall colors to be found. Normally this would be near-peak foliage on October 6, but the leaves turned very early this year.
I continued a short distance farther south to a viewpoint at the north end of Middle Three Ponds and a nice view of Carr Mountain across the water.
The beaver dam crossing on the trail was easily manageable.
View from the beaver dam.
My turnaround point, 4.8 miles from the trailhead, was the junction with Donkey Hill Cutoff.
On the way back I bushwhacked up to a familiar clifftop for a view, passing this rock face along the way.
Side view of the upper part of the cliff.
View across the basin to Mt. Kineo.
Bird's eye view of Upper Three Ponds.
From the clifftop I bushwhacked north to Foxglove Pond, hidden in the woods west of the trail. An old beaver dam at the south end of the pond offers a fine view of Whitcher Hill.
Still some nice color on its flank.
Pitcher plants growing on an old stump.
Beautiful scene with some late afternoon sun.
More pitcher plants.
Parting shot at the Foxglove Pond bog.
Heading home through the hardwoods.