Wednesday, October 29, 2014


The Forest Service has just opened a new trail, tentatively named Irene's Path or Irene's Way, between these two fine attractions in the Waterville Valley backcountry. It replaces the Flume Brook Trail, which was partly destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene. There are no signs or blazes yet, but it is easily followed. After Carol scouted this out on Saturday and gave me a report, I knew where I would be hiking on this chilly afternoon. It turned out to be a very interesting 6 1/2 mile round trip.

 This sign marks the start of the Kettles Path off Livermore Trail. 0.9 mi. from the Livermore/Depot Camp trailhead.

Fine sidehill work on a major Kettles Path relocation, done in 2013 by volunteers of the Waterville Valley Athletic & Improvement Association  (

A big white pine along the Kettles Path.

Nice hardwoods on the Scaur Trail just above the Kettles Path junction; below this junction the Scaur Trail has been closed due to steepness and erosion.

Looking south to Sandwich Dome from the ledges of the Scaur. This has long been one of our favorite shorter hikes, just 2 miles one way with 650 feet of elevation gain.

View to Middle/South Tripyramid and the remote Lost Pass region.

Some rime frosting on Middle & South Tripyramid.

This ledge behind the outlook is a nice spot for a snooze in the sun.

The steep ledgy slot on the trail just behind the Scaur.

Irene's Path starts along the base of this rock face.

A ledge just to the right of the trail offers a view of Mt. Tecumseh.

The trail then passes this impressive rock.

Like the prow of an ocean liner.

The trail makes a nice meandering climb eastward along the ridge.

Another interesting rock formation.

After 0.6 mi. the trail starts to descend into the Flume Brook valley through dark, wild woods on the north side of the ridge.

The trail leads down through some very rough terrain. The amazing trail construction here was performed by the Off the Beaten Path crew led by Jed Talbot. See photos of them at work:

Partway down, the trail passes a unique vista of Mad River Notch.

This may be the best view anywhere of the Painted Cliff on East Osceola.

Two sets of cliffs on the SW side of Mt. Kancamagus. The ledges on the back/left were once called the K1 Cliff.

These lower cliffs offer bushwhackers some good views to the south.

A boulder cave near the junction with the Old Skidder Path.

The entrance to the Waterville Flume is blocked by a jumble of Irene debris.

The area is much more open than it used to be.

You can make your way down to the open brookbed below the Flume.

Here you get a view of the towering fractured wall on the north side of the Flume.

An interesting perspective on the two walls of the gorge.

By scrambling up and over some of the debris, you can get a clear look into the Flume with its pretty cascade. The former path that led up into the gorge along the right side has been obliterated.

The lower cascade in the Flume. There's another one up around the corner to the right, but it's much harder to get to now.

Crushed stone laid down along the trail by the Off the Beaten Path crew.

Another look at that Mad River Notch view.

A trailside boulder at sunset. Irene's Path is a great addition to the White Mountain trail system!


  1. Thanks Steve, I'm enjoying your posts. They are a great way to bring a personal White MT touch to my NY world!
    Henry K.

    1. Thanks for reading, Henry - glad you're enjoying the posts.


  2. Excellent report Steve on this new trail. The unique vista of Mad River Notch is remarkable, and the trail work done by the Off the Beaten Path crew is truly impressive! Regardless of whether the trail will be named Irene's Path or Irene's Way, I presume that the name "Irene" relates to the 2011 storm bearing that name?


    1. Thanks, John! The name, indeed, does come from the notorious 2011 storm. The latest official word from the Forest Service is that the entire route from the Livermore Trail to the Flume, including what is now the Kettles Path and the upper part of the Scaur Trail, will be called Irene's Path. It makes for a really interesting outing!


  3. Great fun reading the report Steve. 2 weeks ago I missed the sign off to the left of the Livermore Trailhead only to find myself staring into signs stating no access allowed up to the Flume area after Boulder Path. Oh well, it was dank out anyway so I took a bramble up to the Norway Flume instead. FANTASTIC trailwork by the team on Irenes way!!! Can't say I've seen a prettier staircase. That is literally TONS of work. Kudos to the men and women who put their backs into it! See you soon!

  4. Thanks for the great report! I liked it so much I tried replicating your route this afternoon. Had I read your report more carefully I might have picked up on a few important details such as “new trail replaces the closed Flume Brook Trail”. Instead I figured you’d done a loop that ended with you hiking out on “re-opened” Flume Brook Trail. I started pretty late just after noon and ended up at Flume pretty late in day. It was obvious Flume Brook Trail was still closed. I didn’t feel like humping back up and over Scaur so I opted to try the Flume Brook Trail. Judging from state of the Flume, I figured washouts were the issue and that I could deal with them. Turned out there were two washouts. The first I managed to whack over it. The 2nd was huge and towering and upland route looked thick, but other side of the brook looked mellow so I crossed and re-crossed on the down stream side of the washout and that was it. Tons of dead fall had built up on the trail since the closure – mostly birch logs etc. I managed to cross the Mad River where the Bridge used to be. I still made it back to TH before sunset.

    That Off Beaten Path crew did one heck of job on that descent into the Flume. Glad I finally made it up to the Scaur.

    1. Thanks for the report, Ray - sounds like you had a most interesting afternoon. I had heard that there were two major washouts on Flume Brook Trail, and I could see blowdown right at the start. The transformation of the Flume itself was amazing - I don't recall getting the view of that jutting fractured wall before.


  5. JimmyO,

    Thanks for your comment! I agree, that is one of the finest rock staircases I've ever seen. Lots to see on that hike.


  6. Awesome report, 3 of us are looking to camp this November and seems like there is a lot of fun between Greeley, Flume and even taking the Old Skinner to get to the Tri-Pyramids. Did you happen on a camp site around the end of the Flume trail or when you hiked to the top of the cliffs? I know there was a camp site 1/2 mile in from Greeley Pond Trail on the old Flume trail and from reading above it looks like you can still access the Flume bushwhacking over the 2 washouts

    1. I didn't notice a campsite in near the Flume but there are probably flat areas that would be suited for it. The upper part of Old Skidder would seem to have potential camping spots. I've heard the old Flume Brook Trail is passable (though likely with some blowdowns) if you can navigate around the washouts. Enjoy your trip!