Wednesday, September 26, 2018


A customer told me of some new blowdowns on my adopted section of the UNH Trail (thank you, Bob!), and Monday turned out to be a fine sunny fall day for blowdown patrol, scuffing out some drainages and hanging out in the sun on Hedgehog's summit and the East Ledges.

A big broken stepover.

 Was able to get it off the trail.

Allen's Ledge.

A three-tree hemlock mess leaning over the trail.

After I dropped the biggest of the three, the trail was completely blocked for a short time.

All clear.

Hedgehog summit.

View west to Sleepers and Tripyramids.

Mt. Passaconaway and its eastern spurs.

I continued around the loop to the East Ledges, where Mt. Chocorua is prominent to the east.

Passaconaway peek-a-boo.

Looking down over the East Ledges, where some early AMC rock climbing took place in the late 1920s

Side view of the East Ledges.

The broad Oliverian Brook valley, which makes up much of the eastern part of the Sandwich Range Wilderness.


Passaconaway's shadow.


The first trail up Hedgehog Mountain on the N side of Mt. Passaconaway was presumably opened in the late 1800s for the use of guests of Shackford’s (or Passaconaway House), the small inn located near the Swift River in the Albany Intervale. However, Moses Sweetser’s late 1800s guidebook does not mention Hedgehog, nor is a trail shown on the 1902 National Publishing Co. Topographic Map of the White Mountains (which did show a trail on neighboring Potash Mountain). A reference to climbing Hedgehog in 1904 is found in Our Mountain Trips, Part I: 1899-1908, edited by Ben English, Jr. and Jane English. The editors’ grandfather, Walter H. James, and companions climbed Hedgehog while camping in the Albany Intervale. They had some difficulty in following the trail that was in use at that time, and ended up ascending over ledges, along a slide and through small spruces. On the descent they were able to follow a logging road back to the trail.
  Hedgehog first appeared in the AMC Guide in the 1916 edition, which noted that the old trail had been destroyed by the extensive lumbering activities of the Swift River Railroad. The 1917 edition suggested that the trail would be rebuilt that year, and the 1918 Supplement indicated that it had been opened up to Allen’s Ledge. In the meantime a bushwhack route was described. In his 1916 book, Passaconaway in the White Mountains, Charles Edward Beals, Jr. noted that lumbermen had stripped much of the mountain’s forest cover, and that the summit was seldom visited. Apparently a trail was still available to Allen’s Ledge on the NE shoulder, and Beals highly recommended a visit to this vantage point. The 1920 edition of the AMC Guide reported that the trail up Hedgehog had been restored, ascending via Allen’s Ledge. This seemed to largely follow the route of the western section of today’s UNH Trail. On the descent, trampers were cautioned to follow blazes carefully and avoid logging roads leading into the Downes Brook valley. Presumably this trail restoration was directed by Rev. Arthur P. Hunt, who purchased the Passaconaway House property when the inn burned in 1916. Hunt built a new hostelry named the Swift River Inn and later formed the Passaconaway Mountain Club (PMC) to build and maintain trails in the Albany Intervale. The Hedgehog trail was named the Una Trail, after Hunt’s wife, Una, author of the childhood autobiography, The Inner Life of a Child.  By 1925 the PMC had cut a new section of trail creating a loop over the summit. The new eastern branch ascended to the col between the eastern spur known as “Little Hedgehog” and the main summit. From the col a spur trail led over to the East Ledges, while the main trail ascended to the summit. By 1928 the spur trail to the East Ledges had become a loop. A Swift River Inn brochure listed the following distances: main summit via Una Path, 1.8 mi.; summit via Cliffs, 2.6 mi.; and 4.4 mi. for the loop. The PMC ceased to exist in the 1930s, and the Swift River Inn was sold to the University of New Hampshire for use as a forestry camp. By 1940 the Hedgehog trails had been taken over by the USFS. However, by 1945 these trails, like many others across the Whites, were abandoned by the WMNF in the wake of World War II. Hedgehog remained trailless through the 1950s, and not until 1962 were the trails reopened up to Allen’s Ledge and beyond to the main summit, and also to the East Ledges. The connecting link between the East Ledges and the summit had not been cleared since the 1938 hurricane, and remained closed until around 1970, when the WMNF reopened it and named the entire loop the UNH Trail, after the forestry camp. In the early 1990s a new trailhead parking lot was built for the UNH, Mount Potash and Downes Brook Trails, and a small network of X-C ski trails – including the West Loop, North Loop and East Loop - was created at the northern base of Hedgehog. In 2012 the lower section of the eastern loop of UNH Trail was closed due to erosion, and a new connecting section of trail was built from the west loop to the east loop, higher up the slope above a recent clearcut.

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