Friday, April 30, 2021

Spring Hiking

Scenes from three spring hikes...


On a gorgeous afternoon I enjoyed a 7-mile hike along several trails on the lower (southern) part of the Squam Range. Starting on Burleigh Fram Road (off Rt. 113) I used the Old Highway, Old Mountain Road, Crawford-Ridgepole Trail out to the first viewpoint on Mt. Webster and then back over Mt. Livermore, Prescott Trail, and Old Highway.

The best parking is on Burleigh Farm Rd. at its junction with Laurence Rd. The trek began with a scenic stroll up Burleigh Farm Rd. through wide fields with views of the Squam Range (shown here), the Rattlesnakes and Red Hill.

Thanks to the landowners who allow public access on the privately owned lands of the Squam Range.

Along the Old Mountain Road, which leads over the ridge to perch Pond Rd.

Hardwood ridge walking on the Crawford-Ridgepole Trail.

Oak giant with pincers.

Squam Lakes Association (SLA) trail signs. The SLA does an admirable job maintaining the trails on the Squam Range.

This excellent viewpoint on a shoulder of Mt. Webster is reached 1.5 miles north of the Old Mountain Road junction.

Mt. Whiteface, Doublehead Mountain, Mt. Israel and Mt. Chocorua.

A classic Squam Range vista: the Ossipee Range and Red Hill behind Squam Lake.

Stone wall along Crawford-Ridgepole Trail as it approaches the summit of Mt. Livermore (1500 ft.). 

Intensely blue water of Squam Lake from Mt. Livermore viewpoint.

One of numerous switchbacks on Crawford-Ridgepole Trail as it descends the steep south side of Mt. Livermore. This section follows an old bridle path that - a neat example of excellent trail construction.


On a dreary drizzly day I walked a short path in Waterville Valley that I hadn't been on in many years. The Mad River Path runs along its namesake watercourse for nearly a mile, mostly on White Mountain National Forest land. There is no parking at the north trailhead on West Branch Rd., but this is easily reached by a 0.25 mile walk down West Branch Rd. and a pedestrian walkway from the Snows Mountain parking area on Boulder Path Rd.

In a couple of locations, traditional Waterville Valley Athletic & Improvement Association signs point the way.

There are several nice views of the Mad River along the route.

Large step stones installed by the OBP Trailworks pro crew enable a crossing of the West Branch of the Mad River.

The confluence of the West Branch (which flows down from Thornton Gap) and the main river (which comes down from the Greeley Ponds in Mad River Notch).

An impressive staircase is used for the ascent of a steep bluff. Rock steps ease the descent on the other side.

More river vistas towards the south end of the trail. The round trip from Snows Mountain parking area is about 2 1/2 miles.


On that same drizzly day I headed over to the Livermore trailhead to see where my boots would take me. When I saw that the little nubble of The Scaur (in back on the left) had emerged from the fog I decided to head up to that longtime favorite via the Kettles Path.

A woodpecker condo had fallen onto the Kettles Path footway.

As expected, the foggy atmosphere limited the views from the craggy perch atop The Scaur.

Patches of snow were still visible on the lower Waterville Valley ski trails.

Upon departing The Scaur, I would be looping down off-trail to these fine hardwoods at its base.

Waterville Valley's Rock of Gibraltar, next to Irene's Path.

Bear tree.

Black Cherry is not an especially common tree in the Whites. This is a good-sized one, with a Red Trillium ready to bloom at its base.

Looking up at the cliffs of The Scaur.

The open hardwoods beckon, even on a dismal day.

It must be midweek in spring.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Passaconaway Cutoff Trail Work & Ramble: 4/26/21

On a sunny, cold, blustery afternoon and evening I combined spring trail work on the lower two-thirds of Passaconaway Cutoff with some off-trail wandering on the way back.

Where I spent most of the day.

A new, taller post has been installed for the signs at the Oliverian Brook Trail/Passaconaway Cutoff junction.

It's been a windy spring.


This overhead leaner would fall onto the trail sooner or later. It was a little tricky and required several cuts.


A beautiful day in the hardwoods, though the wind was roaring overhead.

This one looked fairly fresh.

Just two cuts needed.

Drainage cleaning is the most important task for the trail adopter.

One more blowdown.

The Silky saw is up to the task.

Cascade on the West Branch of Oliverian Brook.

Passaconaway Cutoff was originally opened by the Passaconaway Mountain Club (based at the Swift River Inn in the Albany Intervale) around 1920, after the conclusion of intensive logging in the area by the Conway Lumber Company. Following lumber roads up the valley of the West Branch of Oliverian Brook, it originally stayed close to the brook, crossing it three times low down, then ascending along its south side to meet the Square Ledge Trail at the site of an abandoned logging camp on the north slope of Nanamocomuck Peak. The trail was abandoned after the Hurricane of 1938 caused flooding in the valley and unleashed a large slide on the east slope of Mt. Passaconaway, wreaking havoc on the trail. The trail was reopened in 1965, more or less following the route of the destroyed older trail, with reroutes around washouts. In 1981 the upper half was relocated higher up the slope and away from the brook, meeting the Square Ledge Trail farther to the east. The section running close to the brook was abandoned.

After completing the work for the day, leaving the upper third of the trail with its myriad drainages for another day, I dropped down the slope for some exploring. Having worked on this trail since 2006, I was curious to see if I could locate the former route down near the brook. I also wanted to visit the confluence where the brook draining from Passaconaway's 1938 East Slide and an older adjacent slide meets the main stem of the West Branch of Oliverian Brook. 

The abandoned logging road route of the trail was pretty obvious when I got down to it.

Corduroy on the old road.

The West Branch of Oliverian Brook at the confluence with the brook from the Passaconaway slides.

The brook coming down from the slides. Still looks "slidey."

Looking downstream from the confluence.

My guess is that this bank was gouged out by the 1938 East Slide.

I followed the old route of the Cutoff a little farther up the valley before heading back.

On the return trip I undertook a longer bushwhack to visit a remote logging camp of the Conway Lumber Company's Swift River Railroad (1906-1916), which I had only been to in winter.

One of four brook crossings made en route to the camp.

The last stream I crossed was the water source for the camp.

There are many artifacts scattered around the area. As always, note that these are protected by Federal law and it is illegal and disrespectful to remove them.

The top of this stove was visible in winter, but the other items were hidden under the snow.

Part of a lumberman's boot is still here, more than a century after it was last worn.

This broken bottle reads "134 Canal St. Boston." That was the address of H.W. Huguley Co., a well-known liquor dealer of the era, with a largely mail-order business. I found this interesting blog post about the company:

Carriage wheel rims, presumably.

A variety of items.

I've never seen this contraption at a camp before. Any ideas?

I wondered if this piping was part of a water supply system.

Rusted washbucket.

Wild spruce forest.

On the way back to the trail I visited a familiar beaver bog.

Evening view of Square Ledge and Nanamocomuck Peak.

The dominant Mt. Passaconaway.

On the drive home along the Kanc, a full moon rose over Mt. Chocorua. Wish ace photographer Chris Whiton had been here.