Saturday, October 29, 2016


On a raw gray day I took two short hikes to interesting destinations on the western edge of the Whites.

This short, steep trail just outside of Woodsville is on land under conservation easement held by the Upper Valley Land Trust.

The trail makes a stiff climb up a well-defined oak-clad ridgelet.

Over the last two years significant improvements have been made in a cooperative effort of UVLT, the JAG (Jobs for America's Graduates) program at Woodsville High School, and AMC Trails. There are now six well-constructed switchbacks on the upper part of the trail, which formerly went straight up the slope.

Approaching the viewpoint on a spur of Gardner Mountain.

The "Lone Oak."

The view overlooks a long chain of mountains sprawling down the east side of the Connecticut River valley.

Piermont, Cube and Smarts.

The Benton Range - Black, Hogsback, Sugarloaf, Jeffers and Blueberry.

This area outside of Woodsville at the mouth of the Ammonoosuc River has the interesting name of No Man's Island.

Heading back down the steep little ridge.

Short hike #2 followed old woods roads and an unofficial but well-defined trail to Lake Constance, a fine backcountry pond that was added to the WMNF in the 1990s.

As it approaches the pond, the path runs along an unusual quartzite hogback forested with red pines and blueberry shrubs.

More red pines.

Looking down at the south end of the pond.

The path descends to this rocky spot behind the shore.

Looking north up Lake Constance.

All the comforts of home.

Looking south down the long, narrow pond.

Peering down at the bog-meadow at the south end of the pond.

On the way back I followed another unofficial path to a 1600-ft. knob with open quartzite ledges offering westerly views. Piermont Mountain is seen on the left.

A steep descent brought me to lower, more open ledges.

Prominent little Peaked Mountain in Piermont, with Killington on the horizon.

Big slabs and more Vermont mountains.

Thursday, October 27, 2016


A cold, blustery day for visiting one of the best sub-2000-foot viewpoints in the Whites and a few other places on the eastern fringe of the Whites. Snow-free trails and some late foliage.

View of Pickett Henry and Pine Mountains from Flat Road in West Bethel, ME.

Trailhead sign. This is now officially the Albany Mountain Trail from end to end.

Over the last few years Albany Mountain Trail adopter Eric Rathbun has done an amazing amount of work to improve the northern section of this trail. Thanks for all your hard work, Eric - the trail is a pleasure to walk!

Trail crossing on an old beaver dam.

Beaver pond next to the dam.

Glowing beech woods.

More good work by Eric.

Junction with the spur to the summit of Albany Mountain. The middle section of the Albany Notch Trail has been closed due to beaver flooding, and its southern section is now part of the Albany Mountain Trail.

The spur to the summit meanders up some ledges.

The upper part of the spur is a pleasant ramble through a ledgy red pine forest.

A band of blueberry color.

Approaching the eastern viewpoint just north of the summit.

From these ledges 50 yards east of the trail's end, there was a nice foliage view to the east.

Looking NE to Broken Bridge Pond and mountains in the Rumford, ME area.

A closer look at Broken Bridge Pond.

By far the best views on Albany Mountain are from the SW ledges. What was once a semi-bushwhack with bits of cairned path is now a well-defined route marked by cairns, leading over the true summit and then along the west side of the ridgecrest.

A larger cairn marks the true summit.

First look at the sweeping SW view.

The path crosses these sloping ledges.

The view ledge at the end of the path. Quite a spot! 

Looking down on Number 8 Pond, with Miles Knob and Speckled Mountain beyond.

Kearsarge North, North Moat and the distant Sandwich Range.

The Baldface Range, with Doublehead on its left.

The scene behind the view ledge.

I bundled up against the cold wind and spent an hour taking this in.

Caribou Mountain beyond the cliffs of Albany Notch.

Looking south to Keewaydin Lake and Pleasant Mountain.

Keewaydin Lake and hidden Lombard Pond.

A survivor!

On the way back I spotted this vista of snowy Goose Eye Mountain in the Mahoosucs beyond the spiky top of Farwell Mountain.

Blueberry fire.

This red pine is toppled but still kicking.

Back at the beaver pond.

Farwell Mountain - an interesting bushwhack destination - above a beaver meadow.

I drove a short way down the road to Crocker Pond Campground for a two-mile round trip stroll to Round Pond via the Albany Brook Trail. At the trailhead is this nice view of Crocker Pond.

A Rock of Gibraltar out in the water.

There was some great late foliage where the trail skirts the edge of Crocker Pond.

Neat ledges on the shore of Crocker Pond.

Colorful forest rambling.

A note to anglers at Round Pond.

Trail's end at peaceful, secluded Round Pond.

Looking at the west shore of Round Pond.

I whacked around the west shore for a view across to the cliffs on a small ridge east of the pond. Back in the '90s a whack to the topmost cliff provided a great bird's eye view of the pond.

Late in the day I drove up Tyler Road to one of the more remote trailheads in the Whites, where the east end of Haystack Notch Trail meets the north end of Miles Notch Trail. The road in was much improved over its state five years ago, though a soft drainage dip at the very end could be a challenge for a low-clearance vehicle.

I made a quick check on the condition of each trail from this large clearing (added to the WMNF a few years ago) to where they leave logging roads and enter the woods. Things have changed a bit from 2011. Note that the mileage on the Miles Notch Trail sign is incorrect. The north and south trailhead signs were inadvertently placed at the wrong ends. This 30-acre open area is being maintained as a Permanent Wildlife Opening.

The start of the Miles Notch Trail.

The brooding hulk of Caribou Mountain seen from Miles Notch Trail.

Dusk view of Miles Notch from Haystack Notch Trail.