Tuesday, June 28, 2011


A late afternoon jaunt to one of the less-visited mountains in the Squam Range, the chain of low summits that stretches out on the NW side of Squam Lake. One could call this the "other" Doublehead, to distinguish it from its better-known namesake up in Jackson. Of its two summits, the east is the higher, coming in at 2158 ft. Both East and West Doublehead have limited summit views, but a little ways down from East is an open ledge with a great view over Squam Lake.

To hike the Doublehead Trail, you park out on Rt. 113 and head 0.9 mi. in on the gravel Thompson Rd. With my late start, I opted to ride (and in a couple of places, walk) my mountain bike in to the start of the hiking trail, which is marked by this sign.

In its lower part the Doublehead Trail mostly follows various old logging roads. Typical of this area, there are also some old stone walls.

This section of road runs through a parcel of conservation land owned by the Squam Lakes Conservation Society.

Then the trail starts to climb more seriously, at first through some nice hardwood.

The last half-mile up to the outlook ledge (at about 2030 ft.) is quite steep in places, and is a bit of a butt-kicker. The peaks of the Squam Range are low, but they can be deceptively difficult.

It's worth it for the sweeping vista over Squam Lake, with its many coves, points and islands.

Farther away are Lake Winnipesaukee and the Belknap Range.

Looking towards the Rattlesnakes, which are fully wooded on the back side.

Looking SW along the Squam Range to Mt. Webster (L) and Mt. Morgan (R).

Red Hill is prominent to the SE.

The Ossipee Range sprawls to the ESE.

After enjoying a leisurely evening meal on the ledge (if you can call a convenience store roast beef grinder a meal), I continued another 0.1 mi. up the Doublehead Trail to the ridgecrest and the Crawford-Ridgepole Trail.

This 12-mi. route makes for a fine and surprisingly rugged day-long hike, with a car spot, from Sandwich Notch Rd. to the Cotton Mountain trailhead on Rt. 113 near Holderness.

Just north of the summit of East Doublehead there is a ledgy spot with a partial view to the north: the Kinsmans, Welch-Dickey and Mt. Tecumseh.

Evening at the summit of East Doublehead.

My Doublehead trek wouldn't be complete without visiting both summits, so I descended to the deep wooded col on the Crawford-Ridgepole Trail...

...and made the short climb to the ledge at the summit of slightly lower West Doublehead.

Another northern vista, this time with Sandwich Notch prominent in the foreground.

On the way down, a parting shot of Squam from the view ledge. This is a nice short hike (4.6 mi. round trip, including the part on Thompson Rd.), and is much less popular than the busy Percival-Morgan circuit down the ridge.

Friday, June 24, 2011


While admiring the views from the ledge on Mt. Paugus last week, I turned my binoculars on The Overhang - the minor peak (2615 ft.) just to the west along the crest of the Sandwich Range. Though the cliffs on its south face appeared inaccessible, a closer look at the topmost crag (upper R in photo below) revealed an open wooded shelf behind its edge that might allow at least partial views.

I had wanted to check the southern sections of the Oliverian Brook Trail and Square Ledge Trail for the guidebook, and a bushwhack traverse across the top of The Overhang fit perfectly into that plan.

On a fine sunny morning I set out on the Oliverian Brook Trail off the Kanc. I was startled to see a logging truck coming up the road at the trailhead, perhaps hauling out some trees cut during the winter as part of the Kanc 7 project.

In the second half-mile, the trail follows the bed of a spur line of the early 1900's Swift River logging railroad.

This Wilderness boundary is well-marked.

The west branch of Oliverian Brook emerges from the depths of the forest. This and the other crossings were pretty easy today with low water.

A beautiful hardwood area after the brook crossing.

The gravelly shore of Oliverian Brook.

This is an old route of the Oliverian Brook Trail farther up the valley, now completely overgrown. It was very swampy and the trail was relocated onto higher, drier ground to the east, perhaps 20 years ago.

Fine woods along the relocated section.

A peaceful spot on Oliverian Brook, deep in the valley.

There were many clusters of lady slippers out here.

An old log staircase by a crossing of the brook high in the valley.

Hardwoods on the upper floor of the valley. The broad Oliverian basin is a wonderfully secluded and quiet area.

An old sugar maple.

This small wet meadow is just east of the trail and can be seen through the trees.

Paugus Pass (2200 ft.), the low point on the ridgeline between Mt. Paugus and the Wonalancet Hedgehog, a spur of Mt. Passaconaway.

I went about 0.4 mi. east on the Lawrence Trail and struck off into the woods for my whack across the top of The Overhang. I encountered a variety of woods on this ramble - some thick and some thin.

On a western shoulder I earned my first vista towards Mt. Paugus, with the crest of The Overhang looming close by on the L.

Looking back, a framed view of Mt. Passaconaway.

Some of the more open woods I found as I made my way up to the main knob of The Overhang.

I found a couple of openings along the west end of the main crest. This view looks over Whitin Ridge to Red Hill in the distance.

Looking SW to Mt. Wonalancet (R) and Mt. Israel (L).

A filtered view of Wonalancet Hedgehog (center) and Nanamocomuck Peak (R).

In this area I was above the inaccessible south-facing cliffs. I knew I would have to travel NE to find that topmost crag. There were a few obstacles in the way.

After a slow traverse above the cliff dropoff, I found the wooded shelf behind the upper crag. The binoculars hadn't lied - the woods were open here! There was no one wide open spot to get a full view, but there were some unique vistas to be enjoyed (despite the hyperactive swarms of black flies).

I liked this view down the wide Whitin Brook valley, a wild nook of the Sandwich Range, with the Ossipees on the horizon.
Close by to the east, the ledgy mass of Paugus was an impressive sight.

This vantage offered a great look at the SW cliffs and gravel slides of Paugus.

I whacked to these ledges back in '95 - quite the spot.

Looking down over the crag at the treetops below. An overhang, indeed. No shelves to snooze on here.

Up behind the crag was this cool gully. There are many rock faces hidden amidst the leafy fastness of The Overhang.

The eastward whack back to the trail was quite scrappy, taking a half hour for a quarter mile or so. Coming back across the Lawrence Trail beneath The Overhang, I paused to admire this slab of stone.

I continued across to the junction known as "Four-Way," where Lawrence meets the Old Mast Road, Walden Trail and Square Ledge Trail.

I headed north on the Square Ledge Trail, which traverses along the upper west side of the Oliverian valley.

Just beyond the junction with the Square Ledge Branch Trail (my route back down to the floor of the valley), I took a look at Square Ledge Brook.

Nearby was an old logging camp site. A quick search revealed a couple of items, including this metal strapping (from barrels?)...

...and this piece of ironware.

The Square Ledge Branch Trail offered excellent footing along an old tote road.

Wild spruces back on the floor of the valley. A great area to explore if you enjoy long meanders through remote forest.