The first 0.4 mi. of Drakes Brook Trail is a groomed Waterville Valley X-C ski trail; no fee required for hikers.
Looking upstream at the crossing of Drakes Brook on a solid snow bridge.
Where I spent the day.
Drakes Brook Trail, opened in the early 1920s, is a great snowshoeing route, following an old logging road at mostly mellow grades up a beautiful valley. In the 1930s the lower two miles doubled as a ski trail. There was a solid snowshoe track under 3-4 inches of fluffy new snow that looked like it had been lightly tracked partway through the snowfall.
Good snow depth on the floor of the valley.
Snow sculptures on the brook.
A nice open section on the gentle, broad floor in the upper valley.
The track winds along the buried brook as it approaches the steeper climb up the headwall of the valley.
A faded blaze, almost at snow level.
Reaching the top of the ridge at 3.2 miles.
From the Jennings Peak spur to the summit of the Dome, I had the pleasure of making first tracks in the new snow.
The half-mile between the Jennings spur and Smarts Brook Trail is a wonderful meander through open woods along a broad ridge.
Open sun-streaked fir woods on the moderate ascent to the summit.
There was lots of branch-banging on some sections of the trail.
Higher up, the track disappeared under new wind-drifted snow.
The top of the pole is six inches under the surface.
Some good trail-breaking was required through here.
Had to bust through one monster drift.
Algonquin Trail junction just below the summit. On the return trip I tried to follow this trail down to a southern viewpoint, but the route of the trail was impossible to discern in the open woods and I gave up after descending 100 yards.
I wanted a big view today, and with a deep snowpack this almost-4000-footer provided it. In his 19th century guidebook, Moses Sweetser called this “one of the grandest and most fascinating panoramas in New England.” From here, the summits of 35 White Mountain 4000-footers can be seen, plus 4 more in Vermont. The only problem today was the biting wind with single-digit temps, limiting northward viewing to short sessions.
Looking through Mad River Notch to South Twin, the Bonds, Zealand and the Hancocks.
The Osceolas, with Noon Peak below, overlooking the village of Waterville Valley.
Every few minutes I sought respite in a sunny, sheltered opening on the south side of the summit.
From here there was a southward view to Lake Winnipesaukee above Mt. Israel, with Squam Lake to the R.
Looking NW to Mt. Tecumseh with Mt. Moosilauke on the far L.
The Presys above Scaur Peak.
The Tripyramids and the Sleepers. The South Slides are well-displayed. Carter Dome peeks over between North and Middle Tripyramid. The extensive blowdown from Hurricane Sandy in 2012 is seen as whitish patches on the flank of East Sleeper.
Mts. Whiteface and Passaconaway peer over the NE summit knob of Sandwich.
Parting shot after an hour's stay at the summit.
Rippled drifts above the Algonquin Trail junction.
Back down through the monster drift.
Homeward bound. More reading on Sandwich Dome.