Sunday, June 16, 2013


My brother Drew came up from Connecticut for a visit, and we were blessed with good weather for a pair of hikes in the Mt. Osceola area.


On Friday afternoon we opted for an old favorite, Greeley Ponds in Mad River Notch. Drew had been here in winter a couple of times but had never seen the ponds in their summer garb. We headed in on the Greeley Ponds Trail from the Kanc Highway.

Up at the height-of-land in the Notch, we paused to admire the fortress rock that stands watch over the trail.

We followed the very brushy side path to the "lawn" near the former shelter site on the SE shore of Upper Greeley Pond, a great place to hang out for a while and admire the steep ridges, slides and cliffs of East Osceola.

A different angle on the pond from farther north along the shore.

There was an extensive gravelly outwash along the mellow trail between the ponds, perhaps spilling over from old slide tracks during recent heavy rains.

Looking at the west knob of Mt. Kancamagus and the K2 Cliff from the SW shore of Lower Greeley Pond.

The gravel beach at the SW shore of Lower Greeley. We watched Tree Swallows darting over the pond, helping keep the resident insect population in check.

Looking north to the U-shaped profile of Mad River Notch. This being a Friday night, we informed (tactfully, we hope) two groups - one of whom had already set up 3 or 4 tents on the north shore of Upper Greeley - that camping is not allowed in the Greeley Ponds Scenic Area. It is a beautiful and serene area, but is open for day hiking only.


Saturday promised to be a gorgeous hiking day, with lots of sunshine, temps around 70, and a refreshing breeze. Drew would be fully retiring in a week, after several years of "partial" retirement, and  had been thinking of doing some 4000-ft. peaks to add to his tally of 25 peaks climbed over the years. He had not climbed Mount Osceola, and this was a short drive away - a good choice for a clear day with endless views.

We knew it would be a busy day up there, and with our 10 am arrival we had to park out on Tripoli Rd. as the trailhead lot was already full.

The Mount Osceola Trail from Tripoli is well-known for its moderate grades, never very steep, and also for the gnarly rocky footing in its first 1.3 miles. This is one of the rockiest sections, about a mile in.

By contrast, there's some nice smooth footing in the middle section of the trail.

In its upper section you cross a number of sloping wet ledge slabs. These can be treacherously icy in late fall.

Recent blowdowns have expanded the partial western views from one of the upper switchbacks.

Before hitting the main summit view ledge, we took the side path from the true summit (site of an earlier fire tower) to the ledge with a great NW view. Scrub growth has made this a stand-up vista, but it's still a spectacular one, with especially fine looks at the Franconias and the Bonds.

A zoom on the Franconia Range, Garfield and Owl's Head - a unique look into the western Pemi Wilderness.

The main summit ledge was busy, as expected for a relatively easy 4K peak with great views. During our hour-plus stay, there was an average of about 30-40 people on the broad expanse of granite at any given time.

Looking across the Waterville Valley to Sandwich Dome.

From the lower ledge shelf you peer down into the Osceola Brook valley, once traversed by the Ravine Path (aka Osceola Brook Trail) laid out in 1900 by Watervillian Arthur L. Goodrich. This path was abandoned in the 1950s.

A vast view to the NE beyond nearby East Osceola.

The Hancocks, Mt. Washington, Mt. Carrigain and the Carters. All told 41 NH 4000-footers can be seen from Mount Osceola, though you have to work a bit to see Tecumseh and Moosilauke..

Stopping for a summit photo at the high point before heading back down.  An old fire tower support can be seen in the foreground. It was a great day for Osceola!


  1. I passed by you and said hi on the Greely Ponds trail right near the trailhead as you were starting and I was stopping on Friday around 2pm. I had a red shirt and a blue pack.

    Its because of your blog I found out about, and took on (or attempted to) the Osceolas this past weekend :)

    Post detailing my trek I am writing up now and should be posted tomorrow... wishing I took the Tripoli Rd. trail instead.

  2. JYAH,

    Thanks for your comment - I remember passing you near the trailhead. That's definitely the tougher approach to the Osceolas. The section above the traverse past the cliffs does get your attention! Look forward to reading your report on your interesting blog.