An afternoon/evening tramp over these two fine viewpoints on Sandwich Dome. Up the Sandwich Mountain Trail and down the Drakes Brook Trail, a 6.5 mile loop with 2150 ft. of elevation gain.
The Sandwich Mountain Trail climbs steadily to the Wilderness boundary.
Glacial erratics in a neat spruce forest on the way up Noon Peak.
The inviting outlook ledge on Noon Peak.
Looking north through Mad River Notch beyond the village of Waterville Valley. Mt. Bond, Zealand Mountain and the Hancocks in the distance.
Tripyramid, where I had been two days earlier.
Tripyramid's South Slides. The 1869 slide, the one the trail follows, is on the left. At the upper right is the top of the 1885 slide, crossed by the Kate Sleeper Trail. The strip on the bottom right is the new slide from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.
Peering straight down into the Drakes Brook valley.
A second outlook on Noon Peak looks across the Drakes Brook valley to the northern Flat Mountain and its col with Sandwich Dome. The southern Flat Mountain peeks over the col.
The Sandwich Mountain Trail has some great ridge walking. It was opened in 1879 by AMC volunteers. Describing the new path in Appalachia, AMC stalwart Webster Wells wrote, “I think we may regard it as by far the most interesting excursion in the neighborhood of Waterville, and one of the most delightful in the whole mountain region.”
Whenever I hike here, I recall the ode to the trail from Waterville trail-builder and historian Nathaniel Goodrich in his history of Waterville Valley: "Beyond Noon Peak it passes through an area of curious elfin beauty. Gray ledge and grayer reindeer lichen, green moss and low green spruces, long vistas into mystery, utter quiet, a feeling of remoteness, of simplicity, pervade this spot. Go slowly here."
Farther along the ridge, there are more ledges with views. The best vistas are found by dropping down to the left of the trail on the ledges.
The nubble of Jennings Peak.
A ladyslipper emerging from the scrub.
Worth the side trip.
A steep pitch lifts you to the top.
The Sandwich Range in silhouette.
Waited out a soaking shower for about 20 minutes.
The signature vista from Jennings is the sweep over the wild valley of Smarts Brook, with the two Black Mountains on the L and Sachem Peak on the R.
The cliffs of Sachem Peak.
The high ridge joining Black Mountain and Sandwich Dome, traversed by the Algonquin Trail.
Ferns along the Sandwich Mountain Trail.
Drakes Brook, high in the valley, where the trail comes down to it.
At this spot you can see cribbing from an old dam or bridge [?], left over from logging days in the early 1900s.
A gentle stretch of Drakes Brook, still deep in the valley, lined with graceful yellow birches.
Cascade on Drakes Brook, off-trail and farther down the valley.
One of several bed frames strewn around the site of an old logging camp in the lower valley.