Friday, October 7, 2016

OWL'S HEAD: 10/6/16

October is the best time in the western Pemi Wilderness, and the long trek to Owl's Head is always a memorable experience. I hadn't been to the summit in 10 years, and wanted to check the condition of the path to the top, and also two increasingly popular "bushwhack" routes used on the approach. It was a spectacular day of bright sun, deep blue skies and vivid foliage.

The foliage was glowing right from the start, with Black Mountain seen from the Lincoln Woods parking area.

The leaf-strewn Lincoln Woods Trail.

A hint of red at Bondcliff View along the East Branch.

A colorful swamp along the Black Pond Trail.

Owl's Head from the Black Pond outlet.

Black Pond and Bondcliff.

Along the Black Pond "bushwhack," originally used as a route to bypass highwater crossings on the Lincoln Brook Trail, but now being increasingly used as a shortcut.

Lincoln Brook at the lower crossing on Lincoln Brook Trail.

An attractive ledgy area on Lincoln Brook.

Great walking under tall hardwoods on the Lincoln Brook Trail.

A sliding cascade on Lincoln Brook.

Canopy color.

Old railroad grade.

An artifact near J.E. Henry's Camp 12. (As always, these should be left as found.)

Yellow birch glow at the last Lincoln Brook crossing.

Cairn marking the start of the Owl's Head Path.

The beginning of the path.

The lower part of the slide.

Views appear partway up the slide, here looking up to the head of the Lincoln Brook valley.

Southwest to Mt. Flume and Mt. Liberty.

A closer look.

Upper Franconia Ridge.

Mt. Lincoln, Lincoln Slide and Mt.Lafayette.

Lincoln Brook valley at your feet. This ledge at 3000 ft. is a great spot to take a break.

Heading up...

...and looking back.

Above the slide, the Owl's Head Path is nasty in places.

The Owl's Head Path.

The path between the "old" and "new" summits is now well-beaten, a decade after the "re-discovery" of the true high point.

A near-summit view, sort of.

A cairn marks the true summit, elevation 4025 ft.

There are many step-over blowdowns on the unmaintained Owl's Head Path.

This little knob is the "old" summit, which I didn't even recognize on the way in.

Along the ridgecrest.

Having heard a lot about the "Brutus Bushwhack," I followed it on the way down. It's more pleasant than the steep and rough Owl's Head Path, but has one very steep section of its own that would not be sustainable if it received heavy use.

Birches along a section where the route follows the remnants of a century-old tote road.

Late afternoon sun on the west slope of Owl's Head.

Franconia Brook, looking upstream. With the current low flow, it was the easiest crossing ever at this spot.

Owl's Head from a beaver meadow near the Franconia Brook Trail.

Alpenglow on Bondcliff.


  1. Whenever I see the Lincoln slide from Owls Head, I often wonder whether Guy Waterman ever climbed Lincoln through that torturous looking route...

    1. Paul, I have no doubt that he used that route!

  2. Nice report, Steve. I've only been to this much maligned mountain once, but I'd like to go back. My sons look at me like I have three heads when I say that.

    1. It gets a lot of bad press, but it's always an interesting and memorable hike. Hope you can get out there again!