Saturday, October 26, 2019

Passaconaway Cutoff & Square Ledge: 10/24/19

A brisk, sunny day for a fall maintenance trip on Passaconaway Cutoff, the adopted trail of the AMC Four Thousand Footer Committee. Mostly drainage cleaning, with just a few small blowdowns to remove. After completing the work I had enough time to make a side trip out and back to Square Ledge, a favorite spot in the Sandwich Range Wilderness.

Reflections in a beaver pond beside the Oliverian Brook Trail.

Divergence of Passaconaway Cutoff and Oliverian Brook Trail.

Morning light in a hemlock stand along the Cutoff.

Beechwood gold.

There were plenty of wet leaves to hoe out of the 54 drainages.

Cascade on the west branch of Oliverian Brook.

One of only a handful of recent blowdowns on the Cutoff. The recent nor'easter did not hit the woods hard here.


Reached the top of the Cutoff at 2:30 after a 7:30 start. Enough time to drop the tools and head across to Square Ledge.

From the junction with Passaconaway Cutoff, the Square Ledge Trail climbs over a shoulder of Nanamocomuck Peak, descends steeply to a col, then ascends alongside this neat rock face to the wooded summit of Square Ledge.

Shortly before reaching the high point, a side path diverges back to the right and works its way up or around a steeply sloping ledge...

...and leads through some thick scrub... a whitish outcrop with an unusual view - one of the reasons Square Ledge is on the 52 With a View list. Hikers accessing this viewpoint should use caution as the side path abruptly emerges from the scrub at a sharp dropoff.

At the point where the path emerges, there is a framed vista out to the Paugus Pass area, with Green Mountain and Silver and Ossipee Lakes in the distance.

Unique to Square Ledge is this imposing look up at its parent peak, Mt. Passaconaway.

To the NW is a distant view to Green's Cliff, Mt. Carrigain, The Captain, and Mt. Hancock.

From the high point the Square Ledge Trail continues eastward along the rolling, spruce-wooded ridgecrest, passing this view to the Wonalancet Hedgehog.

This little crest has a wild and remote feel to it.

At the east end of the crest it drops down to a restricted viewpoint atop the great eastern cliff, looking across the Oliverian Brook valley to Mt. Paugus.

I made a short, careful bushwhack across and down to the brink of the cliff, with the Moat Range seen far beyond the late afternoon shadow of Square Ledge. Note that peregrine falcons often nest on this face, so hikers and rock climbers should not access the cliff itself from April 1 to August 1.

A full broadside view of Mt. Paugus.

The wide expanse of the upper Oliverian Brook valley.

Treetop view.

On the way back I stopped briefly to remove this blowdown on the Square Ledge Trail.

Done, time to head down. Just made it out without resorting to the headlamp. More on Square Ledge.

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