Wednesday, May 20, 2009


As noted in the previous post, spring is an important time for trail adopters to get out and clean drainages and remove winter blowdowns. Tuesday the 19th was a spectacular cool, sunny day (frost overnight), ideal for a work trip to the west loop of the UNH Trail on Hedgehog Mountain, from the trailhead to the 2532-ft. summit. I adopted this trail through the joint AMC/WMNF Saco Ranger District Adopt-a-Trail program. (There are several trails available; contact Cristin Bailey at 603-447-5448 or

For those not familiar with Hedgehog, this is one of the best smaller mountain hikes in the Whites, a 4.8 mile loop off the Kancamagus Highway with three distinctly different viewpoints looking out over the Sandwich Range, the Albany Intervale, and ranges to the north. Here's Hedgehog seen closeup from a beaver bog in the Oliverian Brook valley.

My friends Keith D'Alessandro and Julie Jamison had patrolled their adopted trail on the eastern and middle sections of the UNH Trail last weekend. They had descended the western section and reported numerous blowdowns in the spruce forest on the upper mountain.

Luckily I had two stalwart helpers coming up from southern New Hampshire for the work trip: Rick Neville and Dave Stinson. Dave, who has been on most of my trail work trips for the last five or six years, was bringing "Wilson," a one-person crosscut saw manufactured in the late 1800s by Henry Wilson & Son Co. Dave spent many, many hours restoring this saw - cleaning the blade, sharpening and precisely setting the teeth. This saw, carried in a ski bag, can handle much larger trees than my little Sven folding saw. Two years ago Dave and his friend John Crowley took out a 16"-thick spruce tree below Allen's Ledge.

It was cool, crisp morning as we started out along the first short section on the old grade of the Swift River logging railroad. No bugs in sight for a while. Rick checks out the sign where the west loop begins.

Most of the waterbar cleaning is on the lower mile of the trail, a mix of hardwood and hemlock forest. As we worked our way up a few black flies appeared, but they never got out of hand during the day.

Higher up the trail climbs gently up a small hogback through a beautiful hemlock stand.

At 1.1 mile a short, steep side trail leads left up to Allen's Ledge. The best view is found by descending along some granite slabs to a flat perch at the bottom, revealing a broad view over the Albany Intervale.

Above Allen's Ledge we encountered one of the larger blowdowns, a good-sized spruce. Dave and "Wilson" went to work.

We each took a couple of turns on the saw and after two cuts the middle piece was ready to be tossed off the trail.

We continued up the trail, removing a number of other blowdowns and cleaning the few remaining waterbars. The biggest spruce, which came down last fall, we left for the return trip. We knew this would take a while, and we wanted to see what lay ahead between here and the summit. Dave and his wife Kaye had come in last November and limbed this tree to make it passable for hikers. The caption for this photo might be "wishful thinking"...

About 0.3 mile before the summit there's a nice view to the Tripyramids just to the right of the trail.

Near the top the trail emerges on ledges with good views north.

Washington zoomed...still a few spots of snow in Oakes Gulf.

Just before 2:00, after 5+ hours on the way up, we reached the ledgy summit of Hedgehog.

To the east there's a fine view of Mt. Chocorua beyond the northern ridges of Mt. Paugus.

By carefully descending some ledges on the south side, one can obtain a wide-screen vista over the broad Oliverian Brook basin between the looming mass of Mt. Passaconaway and the darkly wooded dome of Mt. Paugus. This is the heart of the eastern Sandwich Range Wilderness. The crystal clear air and fresh spring greens combined to create a spellbinding panorama.

From here the eastern spurs of Passaconaway - Square Ledge (the wooded backside), Wonalancet Hedgehog, and Nanamocomuck Peak (marked by a slide) - are especially prominent.

The sun was warm, and a nice breeze kept the black flies at bay. Good conditions for a nap.

After an hour's sojourn, we hiked back down to tackle the big spruce blowdown, about 12 3/4" in diameter. Note the wedges Dave placed in the cut to keep the saw blade from binding.

We each took turns wielding "Wilson."

(photo by Dave)

After about 40 minutes, the job was complete. Well done, gentlemen, and many thanks!


  1. Thanks for all the hard work guys! I was on that trail just a couple weeks ago. What a great little mountain! After seeing Chocorua fromI had to make the trip out there ASAP, which was today actually. Square Ledge also looks really interesting.

    The East side of this loop had the worse of the blowdowns at the time. Hope the adopters of that trail give it the same TLC.

  2. Thanks, Alex! It's a great trail and we really enjoy working on it.