Friday, September 30, 2016


On a fine sunny day I hiked two trails that have seen major improvements this year.

On the east side of Hurricane Trail on the south ridge of Mt. Moosilauke, the Dartmouth Outing Club trail crew led by Sam Kernan did a ton of drainage work, and cut two relocations plus a new spur to a ledge viewpoint.

On several trips to the Hubbard Brook Trail between Mt. Kineo and Mt. Cushman, volunteer Bill Tarkulich and friends brushed and blazed the entire trail, rescuing it from obscurity, and marked a relocation around an area of beaver activity that had obliterated the trail. Kudos and thanks!!

Along the Moosilauke Carriage Road, headed for Hurricane Trail.


The site of Camp 1 of the early 1900s Park logging operation.

One of many new drainages constructed by DOC.

A nice ferny section of Hurricane Trail, rather Kilkenny-ish.

A new footbridge on a relocation around a wet, eroded section.

Cribbing work along another wet stretch.

Sign marking the new spur along the height-of-land on Hurricane Mountain.

The spur path has soft footing.

Approaching the view ledge.

It won't add Hurricane to the NH 52 With A View list, but this sunny spot has a nice vista south to Mt. Kineo, Stinson Mtn.,Whitcher Hill, and Carr Mtn. Chokecherry Hill is close by on the right.

The fine peak of Mt. Kineo.

More good work along Hurricane Trail.

Another relocation bypasses a nasty section at the top of the steep climb on the west side, and offers this little view out to the Killington Range on the horizon.

This relo was cut through some very dense growth.

Returning along the ridgecrest.

Ferns and a hint of foliage.

A fern meadow beside the trail.

The South Peak of Moosilauke from the Breezy Point trailhead.

Mt. Kineo from Breezy Point.

It was a short drive to the western trailhead for Hubbard Brook Trail off Rt. 118. A short way in is this junction with the notoriously obscure northern section of Three Ponds Trail.

The first 0.4 mile is up a somewhat overgrown logging road.

A good sign marks the turn into the woods.

Most of the Hubbard Brook Trail is a ramble through fine hardwood forest...

...with views of several beaver wetlands along the way.

Great woods!

An old yellow birch with character.

The trail climbs to and enters the deep notch between Mt. Kineo and Mt. Cushman, then runs parallel to a large beaver swamp.

A beautiful beaver pond/meadow resides deep in the notch, elevation about 2000 ft. The trail through the notch was originally opened in 1881-82 by the AMC as the "West Thornton-Warren Path," with a spur leading to the cleared summit of Mt. Kineo. It was abandoned by the early 1900s, but reappeared on maps in the 1920s.

The rugged slopes of Kineo rise on the south side.

A neat section along the shore of the pond.

View from the east end.

Near the east end the trail had disappeared into an area of beaver damming and tree-felling. There is now a blazed reroute around the north side, though it's brand new with no footway, so at present it is a "bushwhack with blazes."

The beavers have been busy...

...very busy.

Coming from the east, this is where the trail was lost.

Towering maples on the north side of the notch.

Dead tree dance.

A dusky pool.

A beaver meadow down below, to the west of the notch, with dusk approaching.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


On a spectacularly clear fall day, Mark Klim and I took the long route from the Dry River Valley to Mizaph Spring Hut and Mount Pierce, 6.8 miles to the summit. The notoriously obscure Mount Clinton Trail lived up to its reputation, if only in its lower half-mile.

We had a mix of morning sun and shade along the lower part of the Dry River Trail. Surprisingly, a group of three redliners also heading for the Mount Clinton Trail pulled up to the trailhead on Rt. 302 as we were getting geared up. They left ahead of us and hopefully had a good hike.

A washed-out bank along the first of several trail relocations necessitated by damage from Tropical Storm Irene.

The classic view from a bluff along the Dry River Trail: Mount Monroe, Mount Washington and the headwall of Oakes Gulf.

Suspension bridge over the river.

More Irene damage.

One of the few bits of railroad grade walking left along the Dry River Trail. The Saco Valley Railroad operated from 1892-1898 and crossed the Dry River 13(!) times.

One of the rougher relocations cut around washouts from Tropical Storm Irene.

A new junction with Mt. Clinton Trail, a short distance SW of the old one.

The riverbed is twice as wide here as it was before Irene. The water level was low, as expected, and the crossing easy. In high water, forget it. We took a long break in the morning sun on the far side.

Looking downstream along the widened river.

A nice place to hang out!

To find the trail on the west side of the river, we followed cairns about 100 yards north along the outwash and rocky rubble.

Here's where the current route hops up into the woods. Then, following orange flagging with little discernible footway, we went 15 yards to the right, 15 yards to the left, then 30 yards again to the right to meet the original trail route (which, going back, shortly ends at a high washed-out bank).

The trail was overgrown but followable for 0.3 mile until it passed under a large spruce blowdown. Just past this obstacle, beaten paths led uphill to the left (with, as it turns out, bogus flagging) and downhill to the right. After investigating both of these at some length, it was obvious that neither of these was the trail.

The real trail continued across the slope but had no visible foot bed at this point and was disguised by what might have been a very old washout.

Once on the real trail, we soon came to the first of the 7 crossings of the brook that drains this remote valley (plus several additional tributary crossings). From here on there were no serious issues in following the trail.

There was a fine stretch through hardwoods along an old tote road after the first crossing.

Dropping down to the fourth crossing.

A nice little cascade and pool.

Yup, that's the trail.

An Irene washout along the brook.

High in the valley is this designated tentsite.

A peaceful brook crossing.

This fern meadow almost looked like an old logging camp site.

Colorful hobblebush hanging over the trail.

The junction with Dry River Cutoff, a half-mile below Mizpah Spring Hut.

A large random erratic high on the mountainside.

Beautiful boreal forest above the Dry River Cutoff junction. Aside from the route-finding issues down low, we found the Mount Clinton Trail to be a very pleasant approach with generally decent footing and a nice feeling of remoteness. The Saco Ranger District trails folks do plan to work on this trail either later this fall or next spring to clear out the problem areas.


Leaving the Wilderness.

Mizpah Spring Hut, opened in 1965.

Fall hut crew member Chris, who has visited my store a number of times, offers guests a friendly greeting. The turkey-and-rice soup and peppermint/chocolate pound cake were delicious!

From byway (Mount Clinton Trail) to highway (Webster Cliff Trail/AT).

One of two short ladders on the steep climb up the south side of Mount Pierce.

Steep and rocky.

My favorite spot on Pierce - the broad ledge with southwest views above the steep pitch.

Looking out to the southern/central Whites.

Lower Montalban Ridge and Mount Chocorua.

The Sandwich Range beyond Mount Jackson.


Carrigain and Hancock.

An open ledge on the south summit of Pierce.

Summit benchmark.

Summit cairn.

 Western view.

Ledge with a commanding Presy view.

Evening sun.

Across the upper Dry River Valley to Mount Isolation.

Time to head down.

Descending along the venerable Crawford Path.