Friday, July 20, 2018


A spectacular cool, sunny day for a traverse over this massive, interesting mountain. Up via Drakes Brook Trail and Sandwich Mountain Trail, down by the Algonquin Trail, a bushwhack, and Smarts Brook Trail. Thanks to Carol for watching the store and giving me a ride back to my car.

Most of the day was spent in here.

Morning sun dappling the Drakes Brook Trail.

A big artifact at an old logging camp site.

Other artifacts, including a peavey head. Please note that these artifacts are protected and it is illegal to remove them from the WMNF. Plus, it deprives other history buffs from the chance to view these items. Leave them as you found them.

Golden light on Drakes Brook.

Sunstreaked boulder.

Yellow birches shade the brook, high in the valley.

Spikes protruding from cribbing apparently used for a sled road crossing of the brook at 2600 ft., right where the trail turns up to climb to the ridge.

Timbers from the cribbing.

The only really steep pitch on the generally mellow Drakes Brook Trail.

Onto the ridge.

The nearly level half-mile between the Jennings Peak spur and the Smarts Brook Trail junction is a wonderful stroll through ferny fir forest.

Magical! Along here I exchanged greetings with the only other hiker I saw on the entire 10+ mile trek.

Boreal forest along the final climb to the Sandwich summit.

An outcrop and cairn mark the just-under-4000 ft. summit.

In the 1870s the summit was apparently completely open, and was occupied as a station by the U.S. Coastal Survey. An iron pin can still be seen in the summit ledge.

In his 1876 guidebook Moses Sweetser devoted 3 1/2 pages to a description of the Sandwich view, hailing it as "one of the grandest and most fascinating panoramas in New England." Although the summit is much less open now, the standing hiker still gains a vast mountain panorama to the north, including 34 NH 4000-footers.

Carrigain, the Presidentials, and the Tripyramids.

Zoom on Tripyramid, with the South Slides well-displayed. Carter Dome peers over the col.

The Sleepers, with the huge Hurricane Sandy blowdown on East Sleeper visible as a light patch on the right.

Nice perspective on the Osceolas, with the Franconia Range behind on the left.

I hadn't been on the upper Algonquin Trail in a few years, and I was looking forward to its great views.

High elevation moose sign.

Looking ahead to 3500-ft. Black Mountain, where the view ledges are.

Algonquin is an inviting meandering footpath along the SW ridge.

Ferny glade in the col.

The first open ledges on the south side of Black Mountain.

Trailside ledge with a sweeping western view.

Moosilauke behind lower Acteon Ridge and Welch-Dickey.

Wide views to the south, too. Distant peaks such as Monadnock and Killington were easily visible on this clear day.

A boat-shaped granite erratic rests on metamorphic bedrock. (Apologies for the sun flares.)

A little farther along the trail passes one of the great perches in the mountains.

Looking down on Black Mountain Pond and out to Mt. Israel and the Ossipee Range.

Bird's eye view of Black Mountain Pond and a large beaver pond farther SE.

Kiah Pond, once called Currier Pond. Its current spelling represents a Yankee pronunciation of "Currier."

A vast sweep out towards Sandwich Notch and the Squam Range.

Descending over rough open ledges towards the lower of the two Black Mountains on this SW ridge.

A great section of trail!

Typical terrain on this trail section. The footing is often gnarly.

A short side path leads to another great view ledge overlooking the long Smarts Brook valley.

Sachem Peak and Jennings Peak near the head of the valley. Osceolas and Hancocks beyond.

Great profile of Acteon Ridge, with the long Tecumseh-Dickey ridge above.

Another perch farther down the trail, looking south.

This is the trickiest scramble on the trail, and it's a good one, especially going down. Algonquin Trail is an "elective" on the Terrifying 25 list.

From a point below the lower Black Mountain, I bushwhacked 1 1/2 miles down to the Smarts Brook Trail. I passed this nice birch and fern glade before dropping off the ridge.

Moose bed.

Most of the descent was through open hardwoods.

Evening at the Smarts Brook beaver pond.

Sled runner from the Smarts Brook logging camp.

The popular Smarts Brook cascade, just over a mile in from the trailhead.


  1. That looks like a great hike, Steve. I climbed Sandwich Mt once and camped at Flat Mountain Pond, but I didn't use the Algonquin Trail. It looks like a great trail - but maybe easier to ascend? I like how you used a bushwhack to avoid needing a car spot or a long road walk.

    1. Algonquin is a great trail - probably easier ascending rather than descending. The upper part of Black Mountain Pond Trail is just as rugged, if not more so. -- Steve