Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Back up to the Nash Stream Forest in northern New Hampshire for some rambling on another section of the Cohos Trail, the 160-mi. route that runs the length of Coos County. Today's route was a long loop around Bald Mountain, with a side trip up to the clifftop ledges on the little nubble named Victor Head. Four miles of this trek - the Cohos segments called Bald Mountain Trail (or Bald Mountain Notch Trail) and Rowell Link - would be new trail territory for me. My friend John Compton (aka 1HappyHiker), who has a great hiking blog, the Bald Mountain Trail this spring and gave it a good recommendation.

The trail's start off Percy Road in Stark looked inauspicious. The lower mile or so is a snowmobile trail, and I feared much of it would be weedy and wet as it looks here. But most of it turned out to be pleasant grassy walking.

The sign reads Bald Mt. Notch Trail, which is more accurate than Bald Mountain Trail, since the trail does not go to the summit of Bald, but passes through a neat little notch behind it.

A typical section on the snowmobile trail.

I inspected this sagging bridge from the side before tiptoeing across it.

At 1.4 mi. the trail turned right onto a footpath and climbed through pleasant woods.

Approaching the notch behind Bald Mountain, the trail slipped into a dark conifer forest, with a peek out at The Horn and Mt. Cabot.

On the other side of the notch the trail wound through beautiful birch glades.

An old logging camp clearing beside the trail.

Where a moose bedded down in the meadow.

Historic artifact?

The next mile or so was on the Rowell Link, which crosses Rowell Brook on this nifty bridge.

Looking upstream from the bridge.

In typical Cohos Trail fashion, after meandering through some wild conifer forest on a rough, narrow footway, the trail changes character as it breaks out onto a major old logging road, the Jimmy Cole Brook Road, with a glimpse of the Pilot Range.

Smooth walkin' on this grassy road, reminiscent of the carriage roads at Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area in the Ossipee Mountains.

Rocks come in handy when there are no handy trees for blazing at a trail junction.

This part of the Cohos Trail is called the Old Summer Club Trail, because parts of it were restored from an old trail that led from the Percy Summer Club on Christine Lake to the Percy Peaks. Near the start, it passes a boulder with character.

Beautiful forest strolling, with good footing.

The side trail to Victor Head climbs 500 ft. in 0.4 mi.

The last pitch edges along mossy ledges.

On the west side of the summit there's a great stand-up view of the Percy Peaks.

The best spot to hang out is a ledge on the south side, reached by a spur path.

The views aren't panoramic, but they are nice, particularly looking over Christine Lake to the Pilot Range.

View east to the Mahoosucs. The September sun was pouring down on the ledge, and a nap was in order.

After a snooze, I made my way out to another, more open ledge just to the east, proceeding carefully to protect both me and the fragile lichens.

This was a fantastic spot, with perhaps the best of all northern views of the Pilot Range.

A zoom on (L to R) Unknown Pond Ridge, The Horn, The Bulge, and Mt. Cabot.

Looking SE to Mill Mountain, the northeastern outliers of the Pilots, and the lower Mahoosucs in the distance.

After a long stay atop Victor Head, I descended back to the Old Summer Club Trail, and then followed unmarked old woods roads down to Christine Lake.

Although the North Country got off pretty lightly from Tropical Storm Irene, this snowmobile bridge over Rowell Brook bit the dust.

Another historic relic in the forest.

A key woods road junction on this route. If ascending from Christine Lake, you turn left onto this road a half-mile from the start.

You briefly walk on the road that leads to the Percy Summer Club, which graciously allows hikers access across their land.

South Percy (L) and Victor Head (R) from the beach at the east end of Christine Lake, where there is public parking.

After a 1.7 mi. road walk back to my car, I drove over to Northside Road a mile outside of Stark village for an evening climb up a recently blazed, rough trail to the top of Devil's Slide, the dark cliff that looms over that picturesque town. The lower slopes of Devil's Slide are in Devil's Slide State Forest, while the ipper slopes are part of the Forest Society's Kauffmann Forest. In its middle section, the yellow-blazed path passes through some nice hardwood forest.

Evening sun in the woods, approaching the clifftop.

A crag a little ways down the edge from trail's end overlooks the town of Stark, whose covered bridge and classic white church are featured in countless photos. Stark is also well-known for its World War II German POW camp, the story of which is masterfully chronicled in Allen V. Koop's book, Stark Decency.

Looking east past a lower cliff and out over the Upper Ammonoosuc River valley.

Last light on the Pilot Range, time to head for home.


  1. Great suggestion. Heading upbthat way today. Also thanks for article in Ear re trails. Happy hiking,

  2. It's been a few years since I've been on that part of the Cohos Trail, but you're making me wish I had more time to hike it again. Looks like it was a great time!

  3. Super awesome!

    It's great to read that you also enjoyed the trek along the Bald Mountain Trail. I was pleasantly surprised by the overall ambiance of that trail when hiking it earlier this year. Hopefully, the trail will officially become known as the "Bald Mountain Notch Trail". As you say, it is much more descriptive.

    The following information isn't "guidebook material", but perhaps you might find it of personal interest. I recently learned that, on a seasonal basis, some of the "locals" launch a variety of loop-hikes from the Bald Mountain trailhead on Percy Road. Apparently, some loops include Victor Head, whereas others are shorter and employ the Old Summer Club Connector to hike to the NE end of Christine Lake. Regardless, to complete their loop, the "locals" join the eastbound #117 snowmobile trail, which I'm told leads to a junction with the Bald Mountain Trail just a short distance from the trailhead on Percy Road. (I recall seeing that junction when I hiked a route similar to yours earlier in the year. Perhaps you saw it as well?)


  4. Peter - Thanks - Victor Head is a cool spot. Hope you enjoy(ed) it!

    Ryan - I enjoyed your report on your recent Cohos trip. Makes me want to go up and check out Cathedral Meadow and other spots on the Gadwah Notch Trail. Seems like they mow some of those spots to keep them as wildlife openings.

    John - Thanks for the suggestion to do the Bald Mountain Trail! Interesting note about the loops. My guess is that they use the snowmobile trail that splits to the R from the Old Summer Club route 0.4 mi. up from Christine Lake, and that they come in on the Bald Mountain Trail at 1.4 mi. from Percy Rd., where the Bald trail turns R onto a footpath. There was a sign for #117 on the snowmobile section of the Bald trail. Sure beats a road walk.


  5. This looks like a beautiful trail. I appreciated all the pictures. I'll bet the trail is spectacular during fall color season.

    Rita Wechter

  6. Beautiful landscape... Useful ! Thanks you, this was a quality blog post. I would want to be able to write like this as well.

  7. Wow...what a change for a city slicker like me...thanks for the tour, always wanted to see a Moose in the wild,very cool blog you have !

  8. Wow, beautifull pictures and fantastic landscape! One day I would like extend my hiking portfolio to this area. :) Currently I mostly hike in South Africa

  9. I miss mountain hiking... I'm looking for my time this Christmas. I hope I could commune with nature once again and retreat from the urban world.

  10. Just found your blog on "blogs of note". You do such a wonderful job of photography that almost makes me feel as if I'm there. I love hiking and being outdoors anywhere. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Thanks for sharing. I love hiking the rockies here in Colorado. Love making furniture and walking sticks from the aspen.