On a perfect midsummer day - sunny after morning clouds, temp in 70s, low humidity - I decided to make the fairly long walk through the southwestern wilds of the Sandwich Range to one of my favorite spots - Black Mountain Pond. This clean and clear six-acre gem nestles at the base of Black Mountain, the rugged, ledgy SW shoulder of Sandwich Dome.
I've always felt that the toughest part of the hike to Black Mountain Pond is the five-mile drive in on the steep, narrow and gnarly Sandwich Notch Road. Some of the pitches on this road are startlingly steep, and you just hope there's no one coming the other way 'cause you can't see over your hood when going over the crest.
Parking for the Guinea Pond Trail is a little ways up the Beebe River Rd., just north of the trailhead. There's no parking where the trail leaves Sandwich Notch Rd.
After crossing under a powerline, the Guinea Pond Trail provides easy cruising along the bed of the old Beebe River logging railroad (1917-1942), which extended all the way up past Flat Mountain Pond.
About a mile in you enter an extensive swampy area. Earlier in the summer this stretch is good for birding, and for being eaten alive by various flying insects.
There are a couple of good views of sprawling Sandwich Dome across the swamp.
From another spot, a peek at the SE shoulder of Sandwich Dome.
After 1.6 mi., I turned L onto one of my favorite routes, the Black Mountain Pond Trail.
The Beebe River was absurdly low. A few years ago, after some heavy rain, a group of us couldn't cross the raging stream here; we had to go upstream and wade at a wider, shallower spot.
The Black Mountain Pond Trail makes a long, mostly easy-graded meander up the Beebe River valley, passing through a variety of woods.
The trail crosses the Beebe River again where it emerges from an old beaver meadow.
In the next section, the trail passes by some interesting cascades and natural bathtubs in the stream.
Farther up the valley, a side trail leads to Mary Cary Falls.
The flow was meager today!
Here is Mary Cary Falls with a strong flow of water.
Because it has been heavily camped over the years, Black Mountain Pond is in a Forest Protection Area,
The Forest Service and Squam Lakes Association (the trail maintainer) have created a hardened tentsite above the pond.
I followed a path down to a ledgy spot on the shore with a great view across to Black Mountain, the higher of two SW shoulders of Sandwich Dome with that name. The steep and rough upper mile of the Black Mountain Pond Trail winds up this rugged slope, well to the L of the prominent cliffs.
Lower down on the slope I studied an off-trail ledge I had visited a few years ago, and planned to return to today (seen near the bottom of the photo).
Looking south down the pond. The water level is down during this dry summer.
I returned to the trail and followed it to a spot on the SE shore near the site of a former shelter.
Just north of Black Mountain Pond, the trail passes by an old beaver pond. Right beyond here, the trail begins its steep climb to the Algonquin Trail on Black Mountain.
A short but thick bushwhack in steep terrain brought me to the ledge. Dropping down to it was a little precarious, but doable. On my previous visit, the view had been mostly shrouded in fog. This time, all was revealed. Black Mountain Pond fills the foreground, with Mt. Israel (R) and the Ossipee Range (L) beyond.
I found a little pocket to sit in on the ledge, and spent an hour relaxing and taking it in.
A broadside view of Mt. Israel and Dinsmore Mountain, its western spur.
An open ferny spot along the whack back to the trail.
Steep pitch just above the beaver pond.
Higher up, this trail is pretty challenging in places (photo taken on a previous hike).
Back at Black Mountain Pond in late afternoon light.
Heading back down the meandering trail.
Partway down, I made a short off-trail detour to visit an old beaver meadow. Lots of interesting wetlands in this area.
The trail continues down through endless wild woods in this quiet southwestern corner of the Sandwich Range Wilderness. I did not see one other hiker on this 9-mile midsummer trek.
On the way back along Sandwich Notch Road, I stopped to admire this view of Jennings Peak, Sandwich Dome and Black Mountain from a clearing by a lonely house. What a beautiful area!