Saturday, March 5, 2016

LOST PASS: 3/4/16

On a day of soft flurries and peeks of sun I enjoyed a 12-mile snowshoe ramble with Mark Klim into the intriguing Lost Pass, a remote and beautiful nook of the Sandwich Range Wilderness.

After a quick 2.2 mile walk up the groomed Livermore Trail, we scooted across a bridge over Slide Brook and snowshoed through hardwood forest up the Cascade Brook X-C Trail, part of the Waterville Valley Nordic trail network. This trail was ungroomed and closed to skiing, and looked like it had not been open all winter due to inadequate cover. Were it open and groomed, we would have needed a WV trail pass.

There were many bear trees along the trail.

We also spotted some bear "nests" high in the branches of beech trees.

At the upper end of the XC trail is the clearing of Cascade Camp, a logging camp that presumably was in use in the 1930s. Snows Mountain is seen in the background.

From there we followed the route of the old Woodbury Trail, originally opened in 1902 as a long route from Waterville Valley to Mount Whiteface. Its mostly open corridor along an ancient logging road is easy to follow and is still occasionally used by backcountry skiers and snowshoers. It is generally too wet for summer use.

Mark savors the quiet, deep in the Cascade Brook valley.

Some sections of this historic trail run alongside Cascade Brook.

The stream was pretty well-frozen, even in this wacky winter.

A brookside mushroom tree.

This corridor was remarkably open.

Mark checks out a moose scraping, high up in the valley.

Approaching the head of Cascade Brook through wild fir forest.

Here we veered off to explore some beaver meadows to the NE. A frozen brook provided a convenient route part of the way. Part of Sleeper Ridge is in the distance.

Old beaver cuttings.

A songbird nest.

South Tripyramid presides over this wild, remote area. This solidly snowpacked meadow made a fine lunch spot.

Spiry conifers give the area a northwoods look.

South Tripyramid and its two South Slides, through the flurries.

We investigated another beaver meadow beyond.

The broad crest of West Sleeper.

We returned to the head of Cascade Brook, crossed it, and headed up into Lost Pass proper through open woods.

A trail was opened through this gap around 1860, connecting Waterville Valley (via the valley of Snows Brook) and Whiteface Intervale in the Wonalancet area, but it was soon abandoned. The route was reopened in 1905 by Nathaniel Goodrich and others, this time using the Woodbury Trail up Cascade Brook as the approach from Waterville, but within a decade or so it became obscure again, and Goodrich then named the area "Lost Pass." Three drainages descend from this broad height-of-land between Sleeper Ridge, Snows Mountain and the northern Flat Mountain. The rolling, hummocky terrain is extremely confusing, and on each of several visits over the years I have gotten turned around at some point. Today was no exception.

A split boulder near the high point of the pass, at an elevation of about 2900 ft.

Though the forest in the area was generally open, there were exceptions, such as this thickly wooded knoll.

We found winter up here in this unusually snowless season. Pretty good snowshoeing, if a bit crusty on top.

Approaching the large beaver meadow on the south side of the Pass.  This expansive opening is, to me, the very heart of Lost Pass.

Mark surveys the scene from atop a boulder. Part of the northern Flat Mountain is in the background.

The outlet at the south end of the meadow. From here a brook flows two miles south to Flat Mountain Pond.

Looking north across the meadow to South Tripyramid.

It's easy to get lost up here!

Mark heads for the sun.

Savoring one of the sweetest spots in the Sandwich Range Wilderness.

A spot of sun felt good on this generally cloudy March day.

The sun lights up the South Slides.


Hard-frozen snow made for ideal travel across the meadow. This area is too wet for summer visitation.

An outlying spur of East Sleeper overlooks the meadow on the east.

Parting shot from the north end of the meadow.

Old logging machinery near the bottom of the Cascade Brook X-C Trail.

Here is a view of the Lost Pass area taken from near the top of the South Slide of Tripyramid.


  1. Thanks for taking us there, Steve!

  2. That place looks familiar! Nice out there.

  3. Hi Steve ... Thanks for another fine report. Looks like you fellows had a fine day up there. I rememeber visiting that sprucy knoll near Lost Pass. I went in via old Snows Brook Trail and exited via Cascade Brook. It was in May and I had to contend with much wet terrain, but well worth the visit.

    1. Thanks, Ray - I recently looked up your report from your adventure out there. I went in via Snows Brook but snowshoe-bushwhacked along the south side of the brook not realizing there was the old road on the north side. The area has a distinct sense of being "out there". Yes, very wet in summer.