ECHO LAKE & PEAKED MOUNTAIN: 4/24/11
Carol and I headed over to North Conway for a leisurely Easter Sunday afternoon. First we took the beautiful one-mile loop walk around Echo Lake, the green-tinted kettle hole pond at the base of White Horse Ledge. The gentle path around its sandy shore was ideal for Carol's knee rehab. We had our first view of the White Horse slabs from the south shore.
The view was even better from the east side, which swarms with swimmers on a hot summer day.
A little farther along, there was a good view of South and Middle Moat. Along the west shore we had a good look at a flock of Common Mergansers. This is one of our favorite walks during the off-season, when the state park is closed.
The plan for the rest of the afternoon was for Carol to do some shopping in town for various items while I took a hike up Peaked Mountain in the Nature Conservancy's Green Hills Preserve on the east side of North Conway. To save some time, I had Carol drop me off at the upper end of Thompson Rd., where a connecting trail leads up to the Peaked Mountain Trail. No parking is allowed at this trailhead; there is plenty of parking at the Puddin' Pond trailhead lower down on Thompson Rd. After making a difficult crossing of Artist's Falls Brook, I climbed to meet the Peaked Mountain Trail at a kiosk.
Heading up through the hardwoods, the trail was mostly dry and snow-free.
One of the charms of Peaked Mountain is that you are climbing on open ledges long before you reach the summit.
From the first ledgy area there was a view NW to the socked-in Presidentials.
This plaque honors Marland P. and Katherine F. Billings, who, along with Anna Stearns (herself remembered on a carved rock atop Black Cap Mountain) were instrumental in creating the Green Hills Preserve.
Many of the ledges on the Peaked Mountain Trail are fringed with beautiful red pines.
More pines line the climb up the sharp summit cone.
This small, gnarled pitch pine seems to point the way.
Approaching the summit, views open out across the Saco valley to the distant Ossipee Range.
Mt. Chocorua dominates the view to the SW. Down in the valley I could see Puddin' Pond, and I figured Carol was out there somewhere in the wilderness of the Settler's Green mall.
The summit sign.
Looking south down the Green Hills range to Middle Mountain and Rattlesnake Mountain. While admiring this view and enjoying the balmy temperature, I was joined by Center Conway resident and ace mountain runner Kevin Tilton and his friend. Kevin told me he had recently made a traverse over the range, starting at Rattlesnake near his home.
A peek at Black Cap Mountain, highest in the range.
Looking across at the Moats. For a small peak, Peaked offers some pretty large vistas.
After an hour's sojourn at the summit, I descended via the Middle Mountain Connector and Middle Mountain Trail, making a nice loop, and met Carol at the Puddin' Pond trailhead right at the appointed hour. It was a fine way to spend an Easter Sunday afternoon.