Sunday, October 31, 2010

WHITE CAIRN TRAIL: 10/28/10

After completing our hike on the Conant Trail, John Compton and I drove a short distance N on Rt. 113 and then 1.1 mi. up Stone House Rd. to hiker's parking by a gate. For our late afternoon second hike, we opted to go up the steep and scenic White Cairn Trail on Blueberry Mountain, hoping to reach the first open ledge outlook.

We strolled up the Stone House Rd. for 0.3 mi. to a Chatham Trails Association sign pointing the way to the trail.


Near the start, a flat area that had been flooded by beavers in 2006 was now dry again. The trail climbed moderately, passing into the WMNF and leading us through a gorgeous copper-hued hardwood forest.



At the steepest pitch on the trail, we encountered an amazing rock staircase - one of the most impressive in the Whites. The lower part was built a couple of years ago by a Forest Service crew. The upper part was constructed just this year by an AMC trail crew working in conjunction with the Forest Service and Chatham Trails Association, with funding provided by the federal stimulus program. According to Cristin Bailey, Trails Manager for the Saco Ranger District, the staircase has 102 rock steps.



Above the steps the trail continues steeply up through oak woods, scrambling over ledge slabs and chunks of rock.

Before long you have your first views - out over Shell Pond with Harndon Hill behind. Great trail!

John makes his way up to the next outlook.

At about 1500 ft. or so we found a ledge seat just off the trail with a great view across the valley to the Baldface Range.

The view across the steep slope was fine, too, with gnarled red pines and crimson blueberry scrub enlivening the scene.

Middle and North Carter and Imp Mountain rose behind the Basin Rim, with Basin Pond visible on the floor of the small glacial cirque known as The Basin.

Just above this ledge was the boundary for the Caribou-Speckled Mtn. Wilderness.

A bit farther up was this massive open ledge right on the trail. There wasn't time to continue to the summit of Blueberry and complete the loop down the Stone House Trail, but this quick jaunt up the White Cairn Trail was reward enough.

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