Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Britton Hill - 345 Ft. Florida High Point

STATE: Florida
TOWN: Lakewood
DESTINATION: Britton Hill
ELEVATION: 345 Ft
SUMMIT COORDINATES: N30 59.172, W86 16.892
DISTANCE: 1.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 10 feet
HIKING TIME: 5 minutes
SEASON: Summer
DATE: August 9, 2016
WEATHER: Hot and humid



PARKING:

Britton Hill is located in Lakewood Park off County Highway 285. There is a pavilion with several picnic tables and a restroom facility within the park along with the granite highpoint marker and some short hiking trails.


USGS QUAD: USGS Paxton Quad

MAP: (Britton Hill)



DESCRIPTION:

At 345 Feet Britton Hill is the highest point in the state of Florida. It is located on the Florida panhandle near the Alabama border. It is the lowest high point of all fifty US states. The high point monument is 50 feet from the parking lot however there are three hiking trails behind the monument. a blue 0.45 mile loop, a yellow 0.52 mile loop and a red 0.71 mile loop. Following the trail behind the marker for approximately 0.25 to 0.3 miles will lead you to a bench sponsored by highpointers.org. Note that there are a couple benches at the trail junctions however the highpointer sponsored bench should be considered the benchmark. There isn't a definitive peak here and the purist in me wandered the woods like a drunk bee searching for a distinct point. There are locations that are definitely higher than the monument and some that appear higher than the bench but nothing I could truly define as the HP. Lots of big ol' spiders. There is a log mounted on the restroom kiosk to the left of the men's door.


NOTES / COMMENTS:

We were on a family vacation in Destin and I took a break from the beaches and excursions to make the hour drive to the HP for my 9th U.S. highpoint. The first (and probably only) high point I'll visit in flip flops.

Lakewood Park sign

Granite Monument

View from high point marker

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Mt. Garfield (4500), Garfield Ridge West (3667), Garfield Ridge East (3590)

Mt. Garfield Summit
STATE: New Hampshire
TOWN: Franconia
DESTINATION: Mt. Garfield, Garfield Ridge West, Garfield Ridge East
ELEVATION: 4500 Ft, 3667 Ft, 3590 Ft.
West Garfield SUMMIT COORDINATES: N44 11.396, W71 35.716
East Garfield SUMMIT COORDINATES: N44 11.575, W71 34.916
TRAIL: Garfield Trail, Garfield Ridge Trail (AT), Bushwhack, Garfield Ridge Trail, Herd Path, Garfield Ridge Trail, Gale River Trail, Road walk.
DISTANCE: 13 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 3500 Feet
HIKING TIME: 5 Hours 35 minutes
SEASON: Summer
DATE: July 30, 2016
WEATHER: 60 Degrees, clear skies.  70-80 miles visibility

PARKING: From US 3 Turn right at Five Corners onto Fire Road #92.  Continue 1.2 miles to the Garfield trail parking area. There is room for 10 cars in the lot plus plenty of overflow onto the road.  The parking area is marked with a large kiosk and The Garfield trail is marked with a sign.

Approximately 90 minutes drive time from Manchester

USGS QUAD: USGS Franconia Quad

MAP: (Garfield), (Garfield West), (Garfield East)




DESCRIPTION: 

The Garfield Trail begins on the right side of the parking lot adjacent to the trail map kiosk.  It is well trodden and easy to follow the blue blazes through old woods as you follow the left bank high above Thompson Brook. The trail soon turns left and widens as it reaches the old fire warden road. It crosses then recrosses a small tributary to Thompson Brook then begins a modest incline over rocky terrain that never really became steep, difficult or eventful. After 4.5 miles you'll reach the junction with the Garfield Ridge Trail (Appalachian Trail).  Mt. Garfield is a steep 0.2 miles to the north and has you'll discover a 10 foot square cement wall which are the only remains of a fire tower which once stood here. The spectacular 360 degree views are awe inspiring looking deep into the Pemigewasset Wilderness and surrounding peaks of Franconia Notch, Owl's Head, the Hancocks and Carrigan, the Bonds, the Twins and Galehead. Among the plethora of 4k's you'll be able to see Mt. Kearsarge in Warner and the Uncanoonuc Mountains in Manchester on a blue bird day.

Owl's head (foreground) and the Uncanoonuc Mountains 80 miles south
Marred trees marking the bushwhack route
Return the way you came.  Energetic peakbaggers may want to continue three miles east along the Garfield Ridge Trail (Appalachian Trail) to Galehead hut for the opportunity to hike two New Hampshire hundred highest peaks (short bushwhacks) and Galehead mountain. This side trip adds approximately 5 miles to the overall distance. The Garfield Ridge Trail descends very steeply following the AT white blazes passing Garfield tent site continuing it's steep drop to the junction of the Franconia Brook Trail.  It begins to incline as it ascends the West Peak of Garfield Ridge. Reaching the height of land bushwhack 0.15 miles directly south through moss covered semi-thick but not impenetrable woods. I found a faint herd path and noticed a series of ax marred trees leading the way to the high point.  There is a glass (pickle) jar hanging from a tree at the viewless summit.  With the closeness to the AT, I expected this bushwhack to be trivial. The journey was a tad more arduous with less of a trail and thicker woods than I expected however the short and straight bushwhack was uneventful and would be a great peak for a beginner bushwhacker to hone their skills.

PVC canister at the Garfield Ridge East outlook
Continue east on the Garfield Ridge trail over several ups and downs to Garfield Ridge East. The summit is 100 feet off the trail and follows a well used (unmarked) herd path from the height of land.  This is an obvious trail and easy to follow to the overlook staring directly towards Galehead and Galehead hut. There is a small PVC register at the outlook.  Purists may want to circle the woods as I believe the high point is on or near a large boulder 20-30 feet away.


Continue to the junction of the Gale River trail. Galehead Hut is 0.6 miles away and Galehead mountain is an additional 0.5 miles. I felt hot spots on my feet and chose to descend the Gale River trail 4.0 miles to the parking area.  The 1.5 mile road walk was an uphill and arduous eventually reaching the Garfield Trail head and my car.




TRAIL DISTANCES:

HIKING DISTANCES
DESTINATION
DISTANCE TOTAL DIST.
Garfield Trail - Garfield Ridge Trail 4.8 miles 4.8 miles
Garfield Ridge Trail - Garfield Summit 0.2 miles 5.0 miles
Garfield Summit - Garfield Ridge Trail 0.2 miles 5.2 miles
Garfield Ridge Trail - Garfield tentsite 0.2 miles 5.4 miles
Garfield Tentsite - Franconia Brook Trail Jct 0.5 miles 5.9 miles
Franconia Brook trail Jct - Garfield Ridge Height of land 0.3 miles 6.2 miles
Garfield Ridge (west) Height of Land - Garfield Ridge West Peak 0.15 miles 6.35 miles
Garfield Ridge West Peak - Garfield Ridge Trail 0.15 miles 6.5 miles
Garfield Ridge Trail - Garfield Ridge (east) herd path 0.6 miles 7.1 miles
Garfield Ridge (east) herd path - Garfield Ridge East peak 100 feet 7.1 miles
Garfield Ridge Trail - Gale River Trail 0.4 miles 7.5 miles
Gale River Trail - Gale River parking 4.0 miles 11.5 miles
Gale River Trail parking - Garfield Trail parking 1.5 miles 13 miles

HIKING TIMES:

HIKING TIMES
DESTINATION
TIME TOTAL TIME
Garfield Trail - Garfield Ridge Trail 1 hour 52 min 1 hour 52 min
Garfield Ridge Trail - Garfield Summit 8 min 2 hours
Garfield Summit - Garfield Ridge Trail 8 min 2 hours 8 min
Garfield Ridge Trail - Garfield tentsite 5 min 2 hours 13 min
Garfield Tentsite - Franconia Brook Trail Jct 17 min 2 hours 30 min
Franconia Brook trail Jct - Garfield Ridge Height of land 5 min 2 hours 35 min
Garfield Ridge (west) Height of Land - Garfield Ridge West Peak 15 min 2 hours 50 min
Garfield Ridge West Peak - Garfield Ridge Trail 10 min 3 hours
Garfield Ridge Trail - Garfield Ridge (east) herd path 23 min 3 hours 23 min
Garfield Ridge (east) herd path - Garfield Ridge East peak 12 min 3 hours 35 min
Garfield Ridge Trail - Gale River Trail 10 min 3 hours 45 min
Gale River Trail - Gale River parking 1 hour 25 min 5 hours 10 min
Gale River Trail parking - Garfield Trail parking 25 min 5 hours 35 min

NOTES / COMMENTS:

Mt. Garfield (4500 Ft) is worth the hike alone. The panoramic views are one of the best in all the white mountains and a place I could sit in awe in wonderment for hours.  Today's goal was the 3000 foot West and East peaks along the ridge.
Mt. Lafayette and Franconia Ridge

Galehead Mountain, South Twin and the Bonds

Owl's head and the view south

Garfield Ridge East Peak, Galehead Mountain and the Twins

South Twin and Galehead Mountain


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Mt. Clough, 3561 Ft.

Tunnel Brook Trailhead
STATE: New Hampshire
TOWN: Benton
DESTINATION: Mt. Clough
ELEVATION: 3561 feet
SUMMIT COORDINATES: N44 01.768, W71 52.322
TRAIL: Tunnel Brook Trail, Bushwhack
DISTANCE: 6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 2168 Feet
HIKING TIME: 3 hours 5 minutes
SEASON: Late Spring
DATE: June 18, 2016
WEATHER: 75 degrees, blue skies

PARKING: Follow route 25 (93 North Exit 26) approximately 20 miles to the small town of Glencliff.  Turn right on High Street towards the Glencliff house and follow it exactly 1 mile to FR 19 on the left.  This is a dirt road with a Smokey Bear sign guarding the entrance. After 0.3 miles the Tunnel Brook Trail sign is on the right.  There is roadside parking for 2-3 cars.

USGS QUAD: Mount Moosilauke Quad

MAP: (Mt. Clough)

Tunnel Brook trail and bushwhack to Mt. Clough

DESCRIPTION: 

The Tunnel Brook trail follows a woods road 0.2 miles then crossed Jeffers Brook at the junction with Slide Brook.  Here the trail becomes single track through a mix of hardwood, conifer and ferns.  The trail then makes a double crossing of a tributary entering Slide Brook and Slide Brook itself.  You'll reach a third and final crossing of Slide Brook and at 1.1 miles you'll encounter a small reservoir used as the water supply for the NH Home for the elderly in Glencliff.  The area was under construction as I arrived and bordered with plastic red fencing. The trail continues along the left side of Slide Brook.  At 1.8 miles (2300 ft elevation) I started the bushwhack (N44 00.940, W71 51.850).  In hindsight, I should have continued another 500 feet along the trail as my entry point was a bit premature.  The woods were open and easy to navigate. My goal was to hit the curved ridge-line along the eastern flank of Mt. Clough and follow it to the summit.  The terrain was steep and once I reached the ridge-line was able to follow a mild herd path. The herd path disappeared more than it appeared however the ridge was distinct and easy to follow in an upwards path.  At 2800 feet the herd-path became much more distinct, well trodden and easy to follow that would appear, disappear at a downed tree then reappear a few dozen feet later. I encountered a thick band of conifers at 3300 feet that can be avoided by skirting the easterly perimeter.  The summit is marked with the standard PVC canister.  There is no signage.

I traced my steps most of the way down.  Once I descended to 2400 feet I changed bearing to a more easterly direction and encountered the Tunnel Brook Trail .13 miles north of my original entrance point.
Views towards Mt. Moosilauke
Herd path along the ridge-line





















TRAIL DISTANCES:

HIKING DISTANCES
DESTINATION
DISTANCE TOTAL DIST.
Tunnel Brook trail - start of bushwhack 1.8 miles 1.8 miles
Bushwhack - Mt. Clough Summit 1.2 miles 3 miles
Mt. Clough Summit - end of bushwhack 1.2 miles 4.2 miles
Tunnel Brook trail - Parking 1.8 miles 6 miles

HIKING TIMES:

HIKING TIMES
DESTINATION
TIME TOTAL TIME
Tunnel Brook trail - start of bushwhack 40 minutes 40 minutes
Bushwhack - Mt. Clough Summit 1 hour 1 hour 40 minutes
Mt. Clough Summit - end of bushwhack 45 minutes 2 hours 25 minutes
Tunnel Brook trail - Parking 40 minutes 3 hours 5 minutes

NOTES / COMMENTS:

Mt. Clough is ranked the 94th highest mountain in New Hampshire. It has 1261 feet prominence making it the 47th most prominent peak in New Hampshire.  There are no views from the summit however there are good views of Mt. Moosilauke from an open area along the climb.

Mt. Clough Summit canister


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Mt. West Field (3691 Ft) and Mt Tom (4051 Ft)

West Field (small bump left center) from Mt. Tom
STATE: New Hampshire
TOWN: Bethlehem
DESTINATION: West Field, Mt. Tom
ELEVATION: 3691 Ft, 4051 Ft
SUMMIT COORDINATES: N44 11.364, W71 26.826
TRAIL: Avalon Trail, A-Z trail, Bushwhack
DISTANCE: 9.2 Miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 3390 Ft
HIKING TIME: 5 Hours 15 Min
SEASON: Early Spring
DATE: March 26, 2016
WEATHER: 40-45 degrees with clear skies, some under-cast clouds.

PARKING: Parking can be found at The AMC Highland Center and Crawford Depot on route 302. Drive time from Manchester is approximately 2 hours.

USGS QUAD: USGS Crawford Notch Quad

MAP: (West Field)




DESCRIPTION:

The Avalon trail enters the woods behind the Crawford Depot train station soon reaching a empty trail kiosk.  The trails were well used this winter and due to the early spring, a sheet of ice.  Micro-spikes or instep crampons are mandatory for anyone attempting this ascent before the spring melt. The Avalon trail ascends gradually paralleling and crossing an unnamed brook. A spur trail makes a exciting loop to Berlin and Fletcher Cascades returning a short distance further along the trail. the Avalon trail makes a second crossing of the unnamed stream and at 1.3 miles meets the junction with the A-Z trail.  The A-Z trail ascends to a stream crossing then climbs steeply to a 4th and final stream crossing at approximately 3450 feet elevation marks a short reprise from the brutally steep elevation gain before the trail reaches the col and the Mt. Tom spur trail.  In 200 Ft the Willey Range trail departs to the left (South) and A-Z trail descends westerly towards Zealand Notch.

To hike West Field Descend the A-Z trail 0.4 miles to approximately 3050 feet elevation where the A-Z trail crosses an unmarked old cross country ski trial (GPS coordinates N44 12.072, W71 27.134).  Cross a small stream to a small open field.  Here the cross country ski trail bears left and follows the stream a short distance before petering out after 0.15 miles.  Penetrate the spruce to a relatively open woods bushwhack to the West Field summit.  The bushwhack never got too steep and encountered a moderate band of trees 0.2 from the summit but it was short lived with minimal resistance. The woods opened up to the 3691 foot West Field summit.

Follow your foot steps the way you came. After returning to the A-Z trail and col I would recommend the 0.6 mile side trip to Mount Tom. The Summit is marked with a small cairn and a nearby outlook offers phenomenal views into Zealand notch including West Field which can be seen to the South.

Zealand Notch from Mt. Tom



TRAIL DISTANCES:

HIKING DISTANCES
DESTINATION
DISTANCE TOTAL DIST.
Avalon Trail - A-Z trail 1.7 mi 1.7 mi
A-Z trail - Mt. Tom Spur 1.0 mi 2.7 mi
A-Z trail - XC ski trail 0.4 mi 3.1 mi
Bushwhack to W. Field 0.9 mi 4.0 mi
Bushwhack to A-Z Trail 0.9 mi 4.9 mi
A-Z trail - Mt. Tom Spur 0.4 mi 5.3 mi
Mt. Tom Spur - Mt. Tom 0.6 mi 5.9 mi
Mt. Tom Summit - A-Z trail jct 0.6 mi 6.5 mi
A-Z trail - Crawford Depot 2.7 mi 9.2 mi

HIKING TIMES:

HIKING TIMES
DESTINATION
TIME TOTAL TIME
Avalon Trail - A-Z trail 45 min 45 min
A-Z trail - Mt. Tom Spur 30 min 1 hr 15 min
A-Z trail - XC ski trail 15 min 1 hr 30 min
Bushwhack to W. Field 50 min 2 hr 20 min
Bushwhack to A-Z Trail 50 min 3 hr 10 min
A-Z trail - Mt. Tom Spur 30 min 3 hr 40 min
Mt. Tom Spur - Mt. Tom 20 min 4 hr
Mt. Tom Summit - A-Z trail jct 20 min 4 hr 20 min
A-Z trail - Crawford Depot 50 min 5 hr 10 min

NOTES / COMMENTS:

West Field was the goal of this trip.  It is #70 on the list of New Hampshire 100 highest and Mt. Tom was a short 0.6 mile side trip. I was glad to have the company of Wemedge along for this hike as the Avalon and A-Z trails were much steeper than I remembered and I needed the company as my lungs burned and heart pounded in my chest. Traction was essential for this ascent, Wemedge and I put on micro-spikes and in-step cramp-on's respectively shortly after we commenced the hike.  We used snowshoes once we began the bushwhack. There is a PVC canister on the West Field summit there are no other markings or views.

A nice alternative route would be to include 4000 footer Mt. Field which is a 0.9 mile side trip along the Willey Ridge trail.  Descend via the steep Avalon trail to the junction with the A-Z trail.
The XC Ski trail crossing the A-Z
3691 Foot - West Field Summit


Kiss the Canister (tm) Summit pose
HockeyPuck feeding a Gray Jay



Saturday, March 19, 2016

Rattlesnake Hill (Raymond) - 485 Feet

STATE: New Hampshire
Rattlesnake Hill - Raymond
TOWN: Raymond
DESTINATION: Rattlesnake Hill
ELEVATION: 485 Feet
SUMMIT COORDINATES: N43 01.556, W71 12.904
TRAIL: Access road
DISTANCE: 1.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 190 feet
HIKING TIME: 30 minutes
SEASON: Winter
DATE: March 18, 2016
WEATHER: Partly cloudy, 55 degrees

PARKING: Don't ask, won't tell - drive time is approximately 15 minutes from Manchester. Take route 101 east to exit 4.

USGS QUAD:  Mount Pawtuckaway Quad

MAP: (Rattlesnake Hill) 




DESCRIPTION: 

Dirt access road
I intended to park at the end of Gile Road and quickly learned that access to this peak wouldn't be as straight-forward as I anticipated.  The access road is gated and posted No Trespassing.  I explored nearby Scribner Road and Gordon Roads for a trail or public access and didn't encounter anything promising.  I determined the best approach was to park on highway 101 and bushwhack 100 feet to the access road.  I pulled off on the westbound lanes just past a guardrail where I could pull well off the highway.

the bushwhack was short however required a chicken wire fence hop at a point where a fallen tree had bent a suitable location to hop over.  The access road was paved asphalt which transitioned to gravel then dirt still wide enough for a vehicle to reach the summit. The summit cone has been excavated and looks more like a crater than a summit.  The left (eastern) bump appeared to be the higher location.  The summit is a obvious prominent point with no views or markings.


TRAIL DISTANCES:

HIKING DISTANCES
DESTINATION
DISTANCE TOTAL DIST.
Parking - summit 0.5 miles 0.5 miles

HIKING TIMES:

HIKING TIMES
DESTINATION
TIME TOTAL TIME
parking - summit 15 minutes 15 minutes

NOTES / COMMENTS:

Rattlesnake Hill summit
This is one of many mountains, hills, bumps, ponds or islands with the Rattlesnake moniker.  Legend has it Timber Rattlesnakes populated many of these locations before hunters, collectors or people intimidated by snakes nearly wiped the timber rattlesnake population to extinction.  According to Google there is still one active den containing 15 - 20 Timber Rattlesnakes in NH.  The location of this den is kept under lock and key by the state Fish and Game department for the safety of the Rattlesnake.  As I researched the Timber Rattlesnake population in NH I learned of their sad history and demise and I don't blame the state for attempting to keep the location of the few remaining active snakes hidden. Most Timber Rattlers like south facing rock outcroppings and Rattlesnake Hill contains several potential locations.  According to this WMUR news story in 2012 a Timber Rattlesnake was found in the garage of a Raymond home about 1/2 a mile from this location.  I didn't expect to see any basking in the sun during mid-march but Rattlesnake Hill has potential to be the habitat of the last known population of Timber Rattlers in NH.  I'll start the conspiracy theory by stating maybe a snake population is the reason for the locked gate on the access road.   The location would be worth a return visit in warmer weather (if you dare!).



Sunday, February 28, 2016

Unknown Pond Peak - 3510 Ft

View of the Horn across Unknown Pond
STATE: New Hampshire
TOWN: Berlin / Kilkenny
DESTINATION: Unknown Pond Peak
ELEVATION: 3510 feet
SUMMIT COORDINATES: N44 31.713, W71 22.813
TRAIL: Unknown Pond Trail, Kilkenny Ridge Trail, Bushwhack
DISTANCE: 7.0 Miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 1810 feet
HIKING TIME: 3 Hours 35 minutes
SEASON: Winter
DATE: February 27, 2016
WEATHER: 55 degrees, clear



PARKING: From route 110 in Berlin turn left into the Berlin Fish Hatchery on (York Pond Rd.) Continue 3 miles to the Fish Hatchery gate (open 7:30 AM to 4:00 PM) and continue another 2 miles to the Unknown Pond Trail head on the right. Parking coordinates N44 29.880, W71 21.580.  Driving time from Manchester is 2 hours 45 minutes.

USGS QUAD: USGS Stark Quad

MAP: (Unknown Pond Peak)




DESCRIPTION:

The Unknown Pond Trail enters the woods and follows the path of an old railroad grade for the first 0.5 mile then exits a short incline to the right. The trail has some overgrowth and is poorly marked with minimal mustard colored blazes as it continues along the bank of a unnamed stream. It makes a gradual incline as it crosses a few hoppable tributaries eventually making three manageable crossings of the brook which can be difficult in high water or winter conditions.  After just over 2 miles and the 3rd brook crossing the trail departs the stream and grade increases to moderately difficult as it passes through a beautiful birch and fern glade offering excellent views of the northern Presidential range and the Horn.  The Unknown Pond Trail continues through a short section of thick fir trees and at 3175 feet reaches the southern short of Unknown Pond.  The trail parallels the eastern shore which offers reflective views of the Horn reaching the Kilkenny Ridge trail junction after 3.3 miles. This area offers several campsites and is popular during all seasons.

Continue east on the Kilkenny Ridge trail approximately 0.25 miles to the height of land.  Find an open spot and begin the short 0.25 mile bushwhack to the southeast.  The woods are mostly open and during my February bushwhack I encountered little resistance and no snow on my sleeves or down the back of my neck. The summit has a high bump however I didn't find a sign or canister at this location.  There was a glass jar with fluorescent orange string hanging from a door handle a few hundred feet away.  I was disappointed with the lack of a welcome.  The jar contained a folded piece of paper and broken pen. I didn't sign in due to frozen ink in the pen.  There was a recent entry from April 2015. I didn't attempt to examine the log more thoroughly due to it's fragile condition.  There were no views from the summit.


TRAIL DISTANCES:

HIKING DISTANCES
DESTINATION
DISTANCE TOTAL DIST.
Unknown Pond Trail - Kilkenny Ridge Trail 3.3 Mi 3.3 Mi
Kilkenny Ridge Trail - Height of Land 0.25 Mi 3.55 Mi
Height of Land - Unknown Pond Peak 0.25 Mi 3.8 Mi
Unknown Pond Peak - Height of Land 0.25 Mi 4.05 Mi
Height of Land - Unknown Pond Trail 0.25 Mi 4.3 Mi
Unknown Pond Trail - Parking 3.3 Mi 7.6 Mi

HIKING TIMES:

HIKING TIMES
DESTINATION
TIME TOTAL TIME
Unknown Pond Trail - Kilkenny Ridge Trail 1 hour 35 minutes 1 hour 35 minutes
Kilkenny Ridge Trail - Height of Land 10 minutes 1 hour 45 minutes
Height of Land - Unknown Pond Peak 15 minutes 2 hours
Unknown Pond Peak - Height of Land 10 minutes 2 hours 10 minutes
Height of Land - Unknown Pond Trail 10 minutes 2 hours 20 minutes
Unknown Pond Trail - Parking 1 hour 15 minutes 3 hours 35 minutes

NOTES / COMMENTS:

At 3510 feet Unknown Pond Peak is one of the lower peaks on the New Hampshire Hundred highest. It's a relatively short and mostly trailed hike with an extremely short and straightforward bushwhack. Unknown Pond Peak, along with Scaur Peak are short bushwhacks making them a great introduction to winter bushwhacking. I toyed with the idea of continuing over the Horn, Bulge and Cabot returning via York Pond Trail however I got a late start in the morning due to a good Samaritan act of chauffeuring a fellow hiker (and his dogs) the 2 miles back to the Fish Hatchery to find a local who could provide access to AAA and someone more knowledgeable than me in how to retrieve keys from a locked car. This was my first hike in several months and the delay confirmed that the NEHH peaks weren't in the cards today.  It was a cold 9 degrees as I parked the car at 8:30 AM with the clearest blue skies I have seen.  The temperature warmed up to 35 upon return making it an ideal day to hit the trails.
View of the Horn 
The Unknown Pond Trail head

Northern Presidential Range




Sunday, November 22, 2015

Scaur Peak, Mt. N. Tripyramid, M Tripyramid, The Fool Killer (3548 Ft)

STATE: New Hampshire
The Fool Killer from a viewpoint on the Sabbaday Brook trail
TOWN: Waterville Valley
DESTINATION: Scaur Peak, N Tripyramid, M Tripyramid, The Fool Killer
ELEVATION: 3605 Ft, 4180 Ft, 4140 Ft, 3548 Ft
SUMMIT COORDINATES: The fool Killer N43 58.278, W71 25.572
TRAIL: Pine Bend Brook Trail, Mt. Trypyramid Trail, Sabbaday Brook Trail
DISTANCE: 12.0 Miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 3973 Feet
HIKING TIME: 6 hours
SEASON: Fall
DATE: November 21, 2015
WEATHER: 35 degrees, overcast, high cloud cover

PARKING: Parking can be found at the Pine Bend Brook trail head on route 112 (Kancamagus Highway) 1 mile west of the Sabbaday Falls parking area. Roadside shoulder parking is available for several cars. Drive time is approximately 90 minutes from Manchester. If one intends to perform the loop you may want to consider parking at Sabbaday Falls and hiking the road at the start of your journey rather than the end.

USGS QUAD: Mt. Tripyramid Quad

MAP: (Scaur(North Tripyramid) (Middle Tripyramid) (The Fool Killer)



DESCRIPTION: The Pine Bend Brook is a beautiful trail through open hardwoods as it follows and makes minor tributary crossings. The soft grade continues as it turns right after approximately one mile then makes two quick and rock hop crossings of Pine Bend Brook at its tributary. Several small crossings continue and the incline becomes slightly more moderate and at 2 miles, crosses the Sandwich Range Wilderness boundary as it soon becomes steep and rough paralleling a stream and rising up through a birch forest. The trail makes a sharp left makes a final crossing and steeply gains the ridge soon reaching the height of land.

The Scaur bushwhack begins at the obvious height of land point on the Pine Bend Brook trail. The bushwhack is a distinct herd path leading through hobblebrush with multiple signs of moose as you traverse the narrow ridge. The narrow ridge line makes it easy to distinguish the 'trail' if you do get misaligned in the hobblebrush. The trail ascends the southern flank of Scaur and becomes difficult to follow through a few downed trees but can be found again with careful examination from the opposite side. The summit is in heavy trees and marked with a Scaur sign. There is no register. Follow your foot steps back to the trail.

The Pine Bend Brook trail dips slightly then turns south reaching the junction of the Scaur Ridge trail after 0.2 miles. Continue south as the terrain becomes rocky and steep often requiring hand holds on the slippery slabs for 0.8 miles to the 4180 foot North Tripyramid summit. The summit is wooded and marked with a cairn on the tallest rock and offers directional views from several side trail outlooks.

The Mt. Tripyramid trail begins its descent starting rocky and steep but the first few tenths of a mile then becomes more gradual reaching the junction of the Sabbaday Brook Trail after 0.5 miles. 4140 foot Middle Tripyramid is a long and difficult 0.3 miles away over very steep terrain that finally becomes easier as it pops out onto the summit. There is a cairn at the summit and directional views in several different directions.

The Fool Killer can be seen through the tree foliage off in the distance. The Fool Killer got its name from the early map makers who were attempting to hike N Tripyramid and reached The Fool Killer summit before realizing it was a sub peak. Descend the Sabbaday Brook trails steep grade 0.75 to 1.0 miles where the trail meets a stream and makes a 90 degree turn. My coordinates were N43 58.274, W71 25.882 and just under 3100 feet elevation. The biggest difficulty is the short technical brook crossing. The remaining bushwhack is due west through beautifully open woods. It's a short 0.2 miles to The Fool Killer summit but slow going due to the brutally steep slope. I attained the summit after 15 minutes of hiking. The fool Killer summit is marked with a sign and PVC summit register. There are no views.

I evaluated several descent options. The first was to make a straight line route following the elevation contour to the N Tripyarmid trail, another option I considered was to descend the southeast ridge and pick up the Sabbaday Brook trail at a lower elevation. I opted to retrace my steps through the open woods back to 3100 ft elevation on the Sabbaday Brook Trail. I didn't look forward to the steep 1000 foot climb back up and over N Tripyramid and I decided descending 4.0 miles on the Sabbaday Brook trail with a 1.0 mile road walk but is much less strenuous on tired and sore legs. The Sabbaday Brook trail is approximately 4 miles along a long and straight trail with a very gradual decline. The longer but less strenuous route was ideal for my tired and sore legs. The trail crosses Sabbaday Brook and it's tributaries countless times making it adventuresome yet you will have wet feet. I would not recommend this route after heavy rains or in winter.

TRAIL DISTANCES:

HIKING DISTANCES
DESTINATION
DISTANCE TOTAL DIST.
Parking - Wilderness Boundary 2.0 miles 2.0 miles
Wilderness Boundary - final crossing* 0.5 miles 2.5 miles
final crossing* - height of land 0.5 miles 3.0 miles
height of land - Mt. Scaur 0.3 miles 3.3 miles
Mt. Scaur - height of land 0.3 miles 3.6 miles
height of land - Scaur trail jct. 0.2 miles 3.8 miles
Scaur trail jct. - Mt. Tripyramid trail jct. 0.8 miles 4.6 miles
Mt. Tripyramid trail - Mt. Tripyramid summit 100 feet 4.6 miles
Mt. Tripyramid summit - Sabbaday Brook trail 0.5 miles 5.1 miles
Sabbaday Brook trail - Middle Tripyramid summit 0.3 miles 5.4 miles
Middle Tripyramid summit - Sabbaday Brook trail 0.3 miles 5.7 miles
Sabbaday Brook trail - 3100 Ft elevation (bushwhack) 0.8 miles 6.5 miles
3100 Ft elevation (bushwhack) - The Fool Killer 0.25 miles 6.75 miles
The Fool Killer - 3100 Ft elevation (trail) 0.25 miles 7.0 miles
Sabbaday Brook trail - Sabbaday falls 3.5 miles 10.5 miles
Sabbaday Falls - Sabbaday Falls parking 0.5 miles 11.0 miles
Sabbaday Falls parking - Pine Bend Brook trail 1.0 miles 12.0 miles

* Disclaimer - I prefer not to use terms like final crossing in my descriptions due to the vague nature (when on the trail how does one know this is the final crossing) of the description however the final crossing is at a high elevation and the trail continues away from the stream bed making this a good reference point.

HIKING TIMES:

HIKING TIMES
DESTINATION
TIME TOTAL TIME
Parking - Wilderness Boundary 40 minutes 40 minutes
Wilderness Boundary - final crossing* 20 minutes 1 hour
final crossing* - height of land 20 minutes 1 hour 20 minutes
height of land - Mt. Scaur 15 minutes 1 Hour 35 minutes
Mt. Scaur - height of land 10 minutes 1 hour 45 minutes
height of land - Scaur trail jct. 5 minutes 1 hour 50 minutes
Scaur trail jct. - Mt. Tripyramid trail jct. 30 minutes 2 hour 20 minutes
Mt. Tripyramid trail - Mt. Tripyramid summit 5 minutes 2 hours 25 minutes
Mt. Tripyramid summit - Sabbaday Brook trail 15 minutes 2 hours 40 minutes
Sabbaday Brook trail - Middle Tripyramid summit 10 minutes 2 hours 50 minutes
Middle Tripyramid summit - Sabbaday Brook trail 10 minutes 3 hours
Sabbaday Brook trail - 3100 Ft elevation (bushwhack) 35 minutes 3 hours 35 minutes
3100 Ft elevation (bushwhack) - The Fool Killer 15 minutes 3 hours 50 minutes
The Fool Killer - 3100 Ft elevation (trail) 15 minutes 4 hours 5 minutes
Sabbaday Brook trail - Sabbaday falls 1 hour 30 minutes 5 hours 35 minutes
Sabbaday Falls - Sabbaday Falls parking 5 minutes 5 hours 40 minutes
Sabbaday Falls parking - Pine Bend Brook trail 20 minutes 6 hours

NOTES / COMMENTS:

Scaur Peak and the Fool Killer are both on the list of New Hampshire 100 highest peaks, both North and Middle Tripyramid are on the New Hampshire 4000 footer list.

This was a strenuously long hike with more elevation gain than I anticipated. When plotting my route I planned to return from the Fool Killer ascending N Tripyramid and returning Pine Bend Brook to my car. When descending Sabbaday Brook from the junction of the Mt. Tripyramid trail my legs were burning and I knew ascending was not an option and the choice to descend Sabbaday Brook was a wise decision. The trails gradual grade was easy on my sore legs. The 1 mile road walk is not fun but it's not overwhelming either. There should be plenty of cars and tourists at Sabbaday Falls who may be willing to offer a lift.

Sign marking the Fool Killer Summit
The Fool Killer Summit canister