Monday, August 8, 2011


A classic loop in the Mahoosucs, highlighted by the alpine meadows and bare rock peak of Goose Eye Mountain (3,870 ft.)

Most Mahoosuc hikes start with the slow, washboarded drive up Success Pond Rd. Not a fun or pretty drive, but it does provide access to some key trailheads.

A trail sign and toppled road sign mark the trailhead for Carlo Col Trail.

The first 0.6 mi. is up a gravel logging road through an area that has seen much clearcutting in recent years. The good news is, with a deal made last November this is now public land that will be managed by the Forest Service, assuring access to the trails, and eventual recovery of the forest. The Carlo Col Trail takes the L road at this fork and soon enters the woods.

Last summer we went up this trail, and it led through a brushy clearcut for a long way. In the fall the AMC trail crew relocated the trail into a ribbon of woods between the clearcut and a brook; this picture shows where the trail formerly went up into the clearcut. Instant soaking on a wet day.

The relocation provided 0.8 mi. of soft, pleasant walking.

After rejoining the older route, I climbed a rocky stretch up to Carlo Col Shelter. The higher Mahoosuc peaks were socked in when I started the hike, and as I approached the shelter it began raining. I sat inside the shelter for a while, thinking that the chance of doing a traverse across the rocky and exposed ridge wasn't worth a plug nickel at the moment.

But the rain stopped, so I pressed on to the Mahoosuc Trail on the ridge.

Which is also part of the white-blazed AT. Didn't encounter any thru-hikers today, though.

The climb up to Mt. Carlo (3565 ft.) is moderate by Mahoosuc standards. The summit is typically open and alpine, though the views are over the trees since the top is flat.

USGS summit marker on Carlo.

The clearest view from Carlo, looking towards the eastern Mahoosucs.

Heading north off Carlo, the trail crosses this alpine meadow with a neat view ahead to Goose Eye.

The descent to the Carlo-Goose Eye col was pretty steep, with lots of wet ledge.

Heading up towards Goose Eye, I met the first of several AMC trail crew workers doing some serious construction on the Mahoosuc Trail. This was one of the work sites, where new rock steps were being wrestled into place.

Tough work- - great results. Thank you, trail crews!

Much of the climb to Goose Eye is surprisingly moderate, then a steep pitch gets you up to the first of two open shoulders.

Looking back at the eastern Mahoosucs.

Looking W to the Pliny-Pilot Range.

Up to the next bare shoulder, looking back at Carlo.

The steep-sided summit of Goose Eye looms close ahead.

Looking across at the rocky dome of East Goose Eye.

The last pitch up Goose Eye is a steep wall of scrub and ledge. You gotta be kidding - the trail goes up there??

Typical Mahoosuc scrambling.

One of the AMC guys I'd met earlier told me they had just installed some "staples" on a steep ledge. Here they were, with trail crew member "Tyla" applying the finishing touches. He said they were drilled about 4" into the rock, and that the epoxy should be dry by now. They had just been installed the previous day as part of a short reroute around a steep washed-out spot.

Would be a challenging spot without the rungs. Reminiscent of some of the steeper trails at Acadia N.P.
Next up was a scramble leading to the famous Goose Eye ladder. When we first did this trail in '85 there was no ladder here, and the descent was...interesting.

View from the base of the ladder.

Looking up...

...and down from the ladder.

Beautiful vista back across the open shoulder.

Junction near the main (west) summit of Goose Eye.

A rare break of sun put the spotlight on the East Peak.

I had a late lunch while hanging out on a ledge partway up to the summit, gazing north to North Goose Eye, Old Speck and Baldpate.

Looking out to the wild and remote Grafton Loop Trail country, dominated by the long ridge of Sunday River Whitecap, a wonderful peak.

Stormy sky over the Whitecap.

The main summit of Goose Eye, a great spot.

Fine view looking SE across the southern shoulder of Goose Eye.

A zoom on Mahoosuc Notch, with Mahoosuc Arm behind.

Looking out towards the Pilot Range. Lots of clearcutting on the lower western slopes of the Mahoosucs.

Gazing towards the Nash Stream Forest mountains. Vast horizons can be viewed from Goose Eye's summit!

Peaks of NH's North Country beyond Success Pond.

Clouds roll in from the east as a hiker makes his way across the ridge.

The initial steep descent off the peak on the Goose Eye Trail.

The clouds part for a vista on the way down.

A good steep ledge scramble coming down off the last viewpoint.

The trail used to go up this ledge, really more like a small cliff. Now it bypasses to the climber's left.

A mossy fir glade below the ledges.

Farther down, after a long stretch of dark, dense woods, a transition to open, mid-elevation mixed woods.

Lower down, some fine hardwood forest. This area is part of the 9,900-acre Carlo-Speck Ecological Reserve, managed as part of the Mahoosuc Public Reserved Lands by the Maine Bureau of Parks & Lands.

Once back across the state line into NH, the trail encounters logged areas again. One stretch through an old clearcut is grown to chest-high grasses. All part of the Mahoosuc experience.

A peek back up at the striking peak of Goose Eye, before the last easy walk out. Despite the cutover look of the lower areas, this is a highly rewarding 7.7 mi. loop!


  1. Steve, this is a particularly interesting report to me for several reasons. First of all, I've never ventured forth to hike any of the Mahoosuc high peaks in Maine. And so, your report provided some excellent info (and photos) which will be useful when I do get over there (hopefully sometime within the next few weeks before the days get much shorter!).

    Also of interest to me was the information you provided about the "staples". I've encountered these hike-aides on several trails, and have always wondered about things such as how deep the holes are drilled, etc.

    And lastly, that is indeed great news about the former clear-cut areas near the Carlos Col Trail becoming public land which will be managed by the Forest Service.


  2. Thanks, John - Goose Eye is one of the great peaks. The most scenic route is the Wright Trail from the east (via the south branch; the north branch has been officially closed), but it's an even longer drive.


  3. I'm green with envy. I really wish I was with you!

  4. Glad to hear the Carlo Col Trail has a reroute now around the clear cuts! Thanks for those pictures and updates!


  5. Hi Sabrina,

    We went thru the clearcut area last year and it was pretty miserable. The relo is a huge improvement.

    Congrats on finishing the NE 100!