Saturday, February 18, 2017

NOON PEAK: 2/17/17

I enjoyed excellent snowshoeing and views on this afternoon climb, short (3.4 miles round trip) but steep (1600-ft. ascent) on the Sandwich Mountain Trail. Thanks to the trio of ladies who broke this trail out the day before!

There was no parking available at the trailhead, where there is room for only two cars at most; hikers were ticketed here the day before. I ended up parking (with permission) at the Waterville Valley town offices off Tripoli Road, and did a 0.7 mile road walk to the trailhead. Along the way I had a view of Noon Peak, my objective. Noon Peak was named in the mid-1800s by Waterville Valley innkeeper Nathaniel Greeley because at noontime the sun rides high above this eminence when viewed from the floor of the valley.

Drakes Brook at the Sandwich Mountain Trail crossing.

The trail passes through fine open mixed woods as it climbs steadily away from the brook.

Into the Wilderness at 0.6 mile.

A great day for snowshoeing.

A trailside erratic.

An open spruce corridor.

Up it goes.

The second of three very steep pitches on the upper part of the climb. Good training for snowshoeing on steep 4000-footers like East Osceola or the Hancocks.

Near the top I made a short bushwhack to a ledgy area I spotted from Mt. Tecumseh a few days earlier. This spot has a more westerly aspect than the main viewpoint along the trail.

Mt. Tecumseh.

Mt. Osceola dwarfs the village of Waterville Valley.

Back on the trail, a bit more climbing led to the main outlook on Noon Peak, with a sweeping northward vista.

Osceola, again.

The view through Mad River Notch includes Mt. Bond and Zealand Mountain in the distance.

The Presidentials gleam beyond Livermore Pass, between Mt. Kancamagus (L) and Scaur Peak (R).

The rounded domes of West and East Sleeper.

The close-in view is dominated by the Tripyramids.

The wind kicks up a mini-blizzard up the ridge on Sandwich Dome.

Down-look to the floor of the Drakes Brook valley.

Along the ridge.

From the next outlook along the trail, peering into the upper Drakes Brook valley.

It's deep up here!

The southern Flat Mountain peers over the col between Sandwich Dome and the northern Flat Mountain.

An array of Sandwich Range summits.

Another angle on the Sleepers and Tripyramid.

Sandwich Dome.

A blaze at shin level.

Back at the main outlook, the shadow of Noon Peak advances.

Mt. Washington and its satellites.

Descending this steep section I used the soft snow off to the side.

Looking back up the lower of the three steep pitches. Phew!

Sunlight and shadow in open spruce forest.

A warrior tree.


  1. Hi Steve - A friend and I used your tracks on Sunday to climb Noon - thank you! I think the snow had melted a lot by Sunday. I broke out Hancock Loop Trail on Friday. The snow was so deep at the summit of Hancock that the trees near the trail poked a few inches out of the snow. I could see Washington, Lafayette, and Kinsman from the summit!


    1. Hi Dennis!
      Noon Peak rewards greatly for that short steep climb. And that's a great ridge leading across to Jennings. I've seen pics of the deep snow and expanded views on Hancock. Once back in the 80s we had a nearly 360 view from South Hancock, the snow had drifted so much. Sadly, it's melting quickly now, at least in the valleys.

  2. Wow, great pictures! We had similar views this past Thursday. That descent is a real killer coming down Noon Peak!

    1. Thanks, Bill - that is one of the steeper pitches around!