Saturday, May 17, 2014


On a murky and humid day, I headed down to Hebron to check out some of the less-used trails in the Mt. Cardigan region. Thanks to Cardigan aficionado Clay Dingman for some recent intel on this area.

I started out at a newly relocated trailhead for the northern section of Welton Falls Trail on Valley View Rd., high above Hebron in a development called Hebron Country Estates. This relocation was done by local hiker Kim Sharp, who maintains several trails in this area.

 The initial steep climb up an embankment earns you a nice view north.

A half-mile up the Welton Falls Trail crosses a powerline. This is tick city - I picked up a good dozen unwelcome passengers.

At the junction with the Elwell Trail are weathered old Camp Mowglis signs. I headed west on the middle section of the Elwell Trail. This has always been sort of a problem child for the AMC Southern NH Guide, due to light usage and sporadic maintenance. Other than a number of blowdowns, it's currently in decent shape,and well-blazed, thanks to Kim Sharp and crews from nearby Camp Pasquaney. The upper (western) part of the trail is looked after by the Cardigan Highlanders volunteer group, led by Craig Sanborn.

One of the classic old Camp Mowglis trail markers. The Elwell Trail was named in honor of Col. Alcott Farrar Elwell, who ran nearby Camp Mowglis for 50 years and oversaw the development of many trails in the Cardigan region.

Good blazing, pretty easy to follow even where the footway is indistinct.

Elwell is an interesting ridge walk, with a variety of terrain and forests, and plenty of solitude.

Painted Trilliums are out, spring must be gettin' on.

This trail section is lightly used!

The trail leads through some nice hardwood patches....

...and some neat meadowy areas.

Framed view south from a ledge/meadow area.

The trail does get some ursine traffic.

A steep little scramble heading up to some view ledges on an eastern spur of Oregon Mountain.

Eastern view from the ledges.

Farther along the ridge, after passing through another of its numerous cols, is this great ledge perch on the eastern shoulder of Oregon, looking across at the southern ridges of Cardigan. I spent an hour lounging here, even though it was not a great day for views.

Orange (Gilman) Mountain, Mt. Cardigan and Firescrew.

Trail sign where the spur leaves for the summit of Oregon Mountain.

Wide, viewless ledge approaching the summit of Oregon.

The south summit of Oregon Mountain (2230 ft., not 2301), a peaceful spot with haunting background music provided by a Hermit Thrush. The quiet beauty of this summit is endangered by the proposed Spruce Ridge windfarm project.

Mt. Cardigan and Firescrew, showing ledges galore.

Looking back east along the return route, which involved a surprising 400 ft. of elevation gain in many bits and pieces. This part of the Elwell Trail is a very interesting ridge hike away from the crowds.

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