Sunday, July 19, 2015

Pawtuckaway South Mountain - 908 Ft.

Pawtuckaway (South) Mtn tower
STATE: New Hampshire
TOWN: Nottingham
DESTINATION: Pawtuckaway (South)
SUMMIT COORDINATES: N43 06.114, W71 10.866
TRAIL: Tower Rd, Mountain Trail, South Ridge Trail
DISTANCE: 2.4 miles
HIKING TIME: 1.5 hours
SEASON: Summer
DATE: July 15, 2015
WEATHER: cloudy, humid, 80 degrees

PARKING: From Tandy road turn east onto Reservation Rd and follow Reservation road to the junction of Tower road. There are signs stating no vehicles permitted past this point. Roadside parking for 10-15 cars is available.

USGS QUAD: USGS Mount Pawtuckaway Quad

MAP: (Pawtuckaway South)

I chose a loop circuit following Mountain trail along the perimeter of a marshy pond and summited from the northwest side using Tower trail. From Parking head northeast on Tower Road for 0.16 miles to a spur trail leading east (right). After 0.14 miles you'll reach the junction with Mountain trail. Taking a left will lead you 0.8 miles following the perimeter of a small marshy pond-like area to the junction of Tower road and the Tower trail. There is a small outhouse here. The Tower trail ascends moderately 0.4 miles east over rooty terrain filled with granite boulders and cliffs. Just before the summit the Pawtuckaway South Mountain fire-tower can be seen through the trees. The summit is mostly open with several directional viewpoints. Climbing to the tower platform offers excellent views to the northwest and southeast.

Descend via the South Ridge Trail heading southwest over granite slabs and rocky outcroppings 0.5 miles back to Mountain trail. It's 0.1 miles north (right) back to the mountain trail junction and spur trail leading to Tower Rd.
 Middle and North Mountains


Tower Rd - Tower Rd spur trail 0.16 miles 0.16 miles
Tower Rd spur trail - Mountain trail Jct. 0.14 miles 0.30 miles
Mountain Trail Jct - Tower Rd Jct. 0.8 miles 1.1 miles
Tower Trail - South Mountain summit 0.4 miles 1.5 miles
South ridge Trail - Mountain Trail Jct. 0.5 miles 2.0 miles
Mountain Trail - Tower Rd Spur trail 0.10 miles 2.1 miles
Tower Rd Spur trail - Tower Rd 0.14 miles 2.24 miles
Tower Rd - Parking 0.16 miles 2.4 miles


Tower Rd - Tower Rd spur trail 8 minutes 8 minutes
Tower Rd spur trail - Mountain trail Jct. 7 minutes 15 minutes
Mountain Trail Jct - Tower Rd Jct. 20 minutes 35 minutes
Tower Trail - South Mountain summit 15 minutes 50 minutes
South ridge Trail - Mountain Trail Jct. 20 minutes 1 hour 10 minutes
Mountain Trail - Tower Rd Spur trail 5 minutes 1 hour 15 minutes
Tower Rd Spur trail - Tower Rd 7 minutes 1 hour 22 minutes
Tower Rd - Parking 8 minutes 1 hour 30 minutes


Approaching South Mountain tower
I took the kids on a hiking and geocaching adventure on South Pawtuckaway Mountain. This was a great opportunity to keep their focus with many stops to find caches, following the contour of the pond and identifying animal tracks in the mud along with some beaver activity and hike to one of NH's 15 active fire-towers. The tower platform offers many directional views and has waterproof maps on the tower underside ceiling to identify the local nearby hills.
Pawtuckaway Lake

Friday, July 17, 2015

South Baldface (3570), North Baldface (3610)

STATE: New Hampshire
South Baldface
TOWN: Chatham, Beans Purchase
DESTINATION: South Baldface, North Baldface
ELEVATION: 3570 Ft., 3610 Ft.
SUMMIT COORDINATES: South Baldface = N44 13.853, W71 04.675
SUMMIT COORDINATES: North Baldface = N44 14.579, W71 05.224
TRAIL:Baldface Circle Trail clockwise, Bicknell Ridge Trail.
DISTANCE: 9.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 3070 Ft, 250 Ft
HIKING TIME: 4 Hours 15 minutes
SEASON: Mid-Summer
DATE: July 16, 2015
WEATHER: Bluebird day,sunny, clear, 55 Degrees

PARKING: Parking can be found 17 miles north on Rt 113 in Evans Notch. The parking lot is on the East side of the road approximately 200 Ft from the trail head. There is room for 15-20 cars with overflow parking available roadside.

USGS QUAD: USGS Chatham Quad

MAP: (South Baldface), (North Baldface)


The Baldface loop can be hiked from either direction.  I chose the clockwise route ascending South Baldface and traversing the open ridge to North Baldface.  The trip is steep, strenuous and contains four miles of open ridge hiking fully exposed to the weather conditions.

From the parking area walk north on Rt 113 for 200 Ft. to the Baldface Circle Trail on the west side of the street. Follow the intermittent yellow blazes as the trail is rocky and relatively flat meandering through hardwoods 0.7 miles to Circle Junction.  A small unmarked side path (right) leads 0.1 miles to Emerald pool where you'll find a plethora of AMC Cold River Campers swimming in the stream.

Baldface Shelter
Turn left and after 0.1 miles you'll quickly encounter the Slippery Brook Trail junction. Continue right on the Baldface Circle trail and begin a moderately steep incline along a very old logging road passing the Chandler Gorge loop trail after 0.3 miles.  Continue ascending through hardwoods as you steadily increase elevation eventually becoming less steep as the trail follows a contour line to South Baldface Shelter at 2.7 miles.
There are several directional spur trails at the shelter. The Baldface Circle trail continues directly behind the shelter as it climbs a rocky slab soon reaching your first viewpoint of a steep rocky slab.  Here the trail increases in both steepness, difficulty and navigation up steep rocky slabs.  The trail is difficult to follow with small cairns leading the way.  You'll look for rocky outcroppings or scrub trees as hand holds as you steeply incline the nearly vertical trail.  The next 0.6 miles of the steep and arduous journey are the most difficult of this trip eventually leading to a false summit and the junction with the Baldface Knob Trail.  The South Baldface summit is an additional 0.6 miles across open terrain mixed with blueberry bushes and Mountain Laurel. Well Done! From the summit you'll be rewarded with panoramic views of the Carter Range, Mt. Washington and into Maine.
South Baldface from the Baldface Knob Trail Junction
The Baldface Circle trail descends towards North Baldface (look for the small cairns) dipping in and out of short cols with scrub trees and ascending onto open granite ridges full of glacial striations, scraping and pressure folds making me wish I knew more about geology. After a short and steep incline the North Baldface summit is reached after 1.2 miles.

Continue northeast descending steeply over granite slabs and through minor scrub sections 0.9 miles to the Bicknell Ridge trail along open ledges with excellent views into Evans Notch. After 1.1 miles the Eagle Cascade link exits left and the Bicknell Ridge trail enters the woods and turns to the east descending another 1.4 miles crossing a tributary of Charles brook and reaching the Baldface Circle trail junction.  The Baldface Circle trail angles away from the brook then returns and crosses shortly before Circle Junction and a quick. 0.7 mile trip back to the road.


Parking - Circle Junction 0.7 miles 0.7 miles
Circle Junction - Slippery Brook Junction 0.1 miles 0.8 miles
Slippery Brook Junction - South Baldface Shelter 1.7 miles 2.5 miles
South Baldface Shelter - Baldface Knob trail 0.7 miles 3.2 miles
Baldface Knob trail - South Baldface Summit 0.5 miles 3.7 miles
South Baldface Summit - North Baldface Summit 1.2 miles 4.9 miles
North Baldface Summit - Bicknell Ridge trail 0.9 miles 5.8 miles
Bicknell Ridge trail - Eagle Cascade link jct. 1.1 miles 6.9 miles
Eagle Cascade link jct. - Baldface Circle Trail jct 1.4 miles 8.3 miles
Baldface Circle trail jct - Circle Junction 0.7 miles 9.0 miles
Circle Junction - Parking 0.7 miles 9.7 miles


Parking - Circle Junction 15 minutes 15 minutes
Circle Junction - Slippery Brook Junction 5 minutes 20 minutes
Slippery Brook Junction - South Baldface Shelter 40 minutes 1 hour
South Baldface Shelter - Baldface Knob trail 30 minutes 1 hr 30 minutes
Baldface Knob trail - South Baldface Summit 20 minutes 1 hr 50 minutes
South Baldface Summit - North Baldface Summit 35 minutes 2 hours 25 minutes
North Baldface Summit - Bicknell Ridge trail 25 minutes 2 hours 50 minutes
Bicknell Ridge trail - Eagle Cascade link jct. 30 minutes 3 hours 20 minutes
Eagle Cascade link jct. - Baldface Circle Trail jct 30 minutes 3 hours 50 minutes
Baldface Circle trail jct - Circle Junction 10 minutes 4 hours
Circle Junction - Parking 15 minutes 4 hours 15 minutes


Both South and North Baldface are on the list of 100 highest mountains in NH, 52 With a View list and YMCA Alpine Club list and NH prominence lists but don't attempt this hike just to check the two-fer off a list or two. The open slabs are the result of a 1903 fire and the loop over these peaks include panoramic sweeping vistas make the effort worth the trek.
South Baldface summit

North Baldface

Mt Washington and the Carter Range

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Mt. Huntington (3680 Ft), Middle Huntington (3680 Ft.)

STATE: New Hampshire
The Hancocks from the talus slope 
TOWN: Lincoln
DESTINATION: Mt. Huntington, Middle Huntington
ELEVATION: 3680 Ft, 3680 Ft.
SUMMIT COORDINATES: Huntington - N44 03.017, W71 29.448
SUMMIT COORDINATES: Middle Huntington - N44 02.797, W71 29.097
TRAIL: Hancock Notch Trail, Bushwhack
HIKING TIME: 4 Hours 45 minutes
SEASON: Summer
DATE: July 3, 2015
WEATHER: Beautiful,  Sunny, clear, 65 degrees no humidity

PARKING: Parking is at the Hancock Notch Trail head at the Kancamagus hairpin turn. a $3.00 Parking fee applies.

USGS QUAD: Mt. Carrigan Quad

MAP: (Huntington)


Sign marking the trail junction
It was an absolutely beautiful day to be bushwhacking in the whites.  I was one of the first cars in the parking area when I pulled in at 7:30 AM this morning.  It was a brisk 50 degrees with zero humidity and not a cloud in the sky.  The Hancock Notch trail follows an old railroad grade along a very gentile incline. At 0.6 miles the trail slightly drops a tributary to North Fork stream then inclines steeply before continuing the monotonous super highway.  After 30 minutes, two stream crossings will bring you to the Cedar Brook trail junction 1.7 miles from the road.  The superhighway ends here and the Hancock Notch trail narrows and becomes more technical as it inclines through a major blow-down combination of fir and birch trees along a rocky, rooty, and muddy trail that offers limited views of a few talus slopes through the trees. After some ups and downs through very muddy sections you'll reach the Hancock Notch height of land 0.8 miles from the Cedar Brook junction.

I found a open spot and started my bushwhack.  the open woods soon steepened drastically becoming more technical and thicker with every step.  As I was whacking through a significantly thick section I spotted an open clearing and used hand holds on rocks, roots and whatever I could find I pulled myself through soon to find the steep talus field at N44 03.237, W71 29.487.
Talus slope on Mt. Huntington
The going was steep but the panoramic views of the Hancocks and Carrigan to the north were spectacular. After completing the lower talus field I encountered a second talus slope at a slightly higher elevation.  Travel was slow due to the very steep field and at one section I wished climbing ropes were available.  At the top of the talus field thick hobblebrush mixed with short fir and extremely steep slope made moving forward a challenge but that soon transitioned into mostly open woods.  The fir thicken for a short distance and I popped out at the summit clearing at 9:25 AM.

The descent to Middle Huntington started in open woods which quickly became thick. I descended a steep 10 ft cliff section and pushed my way to the col between the two peaks. Upon reaching the col the woods opened up to one of the most beautiful bushwhacks I've encountered with mostly open woods mixed with knee high fir.  The woods transitioned from a thick section to moderately thick woods to easy walking.  Whatever you were hiking in, it didn't last for very long quickly transitioning to something else. I reached the summit at 9:55 AM.

I descended back to the col and instead of returning over Huntington I took a more direct route in a northwesterly direction aiming for the Hancock Notch height of land.  The woods were cleaner here but the transitions from thin, to thick to heavy continued. This route pulled me more north but it was definitely easier than descending the Talus slope. The most difficult section was a technical stream crossing that landed me on the Hancock Notch trail 0.3 miles from the height of land.

My wobbly kegs were tired and my sore feet enjoyed the flat and uneventful railroad grade back to the hairpin turn.


Hancock Notch Trail - Cedar Brook Trail Junction 1.7 mi 1.7 mi
Hancock Notch Trail - Hancock Notch height of land 0.8 mi 2.5 mi
Hancock Notch height of land - Mt. Huntington 0.5 mi 3.0 mi
Mt. Huntington - Middle Huntington 0.4 mi 3.4 mi
Middle Huntington - Hancock Notch Trail 0.75 mi 4.15 mi
Hancock Notch Trail - Hancock Notch height of land 0.35 mi 4.5 mi
Hancock Notch Trail - Parking 2.5 mi 7.0 mi


Hancock Notch Trail - Cedar Brook Trail Junction 30 min 30 min
Hancock Notch Trail - Hancock Notch height of land 25 min 55 min
Hancock Notch height of land - Mt. Huntington 60 min 1 hr 55 min
Mt. Huntington - Middle Huntington 30 min 2 hr 25 min
Middle Huntington - Hancock Notch Trail 60 min 3 hr 25 min
Hancock Notch Trail - Hancock Notch height of land 15 min 3 hr 40 min
Hancock Notch Trail - Parking 1 hr 5 min 4 hr 45 min


Both Mt. Huntington and Middle Huntington are on the list of 100 highest mountains in New Hampshire. I hesitate to commit to the fact that I'm working on this list but the mountains on it seem to be the highest priority when I begin planning a hike.  Both mountains have a PVC canister at the summit. Huntington had a small sign laying at the base of the canister tree.  Both summits have no views however the talus slope on Huntington is definitely worth a visit. The 2 miles of total bushwhacking on both peaks is difficult to describe as it was constantly changing every 100 yards.  The transitions ranged from nearly impenetrable to beautiful open woods.  If someone asked me to describe conditions my first memory would be extremely steep, the bushwhack conditions will not be memorable in one to two years.

Mt. Huntington summit canister

Open woods bushwhack in the col

The views from Middle (South) Huntington

Sasquatch burial grounds on the Hancock Notch Trail

Friday, June 19, 2015

Tate (Big Ball) Mountain - 2015 Ft.

Black Snout Mountain from the Tate (Big Ball) summit
STATE: New Hampshire
TOWN: Melvin Village
DESTINATION: Tate (Big Ball) Mountain
SUMMIT COORDINATES: N43 43.494, W71 16.205
TRAIL: Tate Mountain Trail, Banana Trail
DISTANCE: 3.7 Miles
SEASON: Late Spring
DATE: June 13, 2015
WEATHER: Sunny, Clear, 80 Degrees F

PARKING: From Route 25 turn onto route 109 for 2.25 miles.  Bear left at the Y intersection onto Old Mountain Road, Rt 171 for 3.75 miles. At the Y intersection with Sodom Road stay on 171 (left) and look for a small parking area with room for 5-6 cars on the left.

USGS QUAD: Melvin Village Quadrangle

MAP: Tate Mountain (Big Ball)


There wasn't a trail kiosk or signs at the trail-head marking the location of the Tate mountain trail.  The class 6 road heads north and crossing several unmarked junctions. I found a few sporadic red/black/red markings that increased in consistency with elevation.  After a few minutes the trail parallels Fields Brook and crosses a grassy X intersection (stay straight). At 0.4 miles and a Y in the trail, the Tate Mountain Trail bears right and begins to gradually increase elevation.  The trail follows moderately open woods with minimal views. A minor moderately steep section lifts you to some open slabs and minor views to the south before reaching the Banana trail junction at 1.2 miles and 45 minutes.  There is a small sign pointing the direction of Rt 171.  A short side trip to the right offers open ledges and excellent panoramic views of Lake Winnepesaukee and the Belknap range. Follow the cairns and blue paint strips on the open granite slabs to the Mt. Tate (Big Ball) summit 0.25 miles and 15 minutes north.  the summit offers great views to Black Snout Mountain, Turtleback Mountain and Bald Knob to the North and North West.  Lake Winnepesaukee and the Belknap range can be seen to the south. There were no signs, benchmark disks or indication of the summit other than a cairn at the highest point.


Parking to Y in trail 0.4 mi 0.4 mi
Y in trail to Banana Trail 1.2 mi1.6 mi
Banana Trail to Tate Summit 0.25 mi 1.85 mi
Tate Summit - Parking 1.85 mi 3.7 mi


Parking to Y in trail 15 Min 15 min
Y in trail to Banana Trail 45 Min 1 Hr.
Banana Trail to Tate Summit 15 Min1 Hr 15 Min
Tate Summit - Parking 45 Min 2 Hr


The relatively short 3.7 mile round trip journey with gradual inclines makes this an excellent hike in time and length for kids.  The wooded trail offered excitement with Fields Brook, a variety of birch, maple, oak and beech hardwoods and views to keep the kids attention and motivation.

I was disappointed in the lack of signage at the trail-head as well as the summit however the spectacular views made the trip worth the minimal effort.

Tate Mountain (Big Ball) is the 7th highest of the "Ossipee Ten" list. There are several longer loop options allowing one to continue to Black Snout and Shaw Mountain with higher elevations.

There are a total of five geocaches along the little Ball and Tate Mountain ridge-line.

Lake Winnepesaukee, Belknap and Gunstock Mountains
Fields Brook waterfalls

Panoramic looking South from the ledges

Turtleback and Middle Mountain

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Mt. Lowell (3720 Ft.) and Mt. Anderson (3720 Ft.)

Mt. Lowell from the Carrigan Notch trail
STATE: New Hampshire
TOWN: Livermore NH
DESTINATION: Mt. Lowell / Mt. Anderson
ELEVATION: 3720 Ft. / 3720 Ft.
SUMMIT COORDINATES: N44 06.216, W71 25.092 / N44 06.749, W71 25.069
TRAIL: Signal Ridge Trail, Carrigan Notch Trail, Bushwhack
DISTANCE: 9.15 Miles
HIKING TIME: 6 Hour 45 minutes
SEASON: Spring
DATE: May 24, 2015
WEATHER: 40 Degrees, sunny, clear, windy

PARKING: Parking can be found 2 miles down Sawyer River Rd at the Signal Ridge Trail head.  There is room for 25-30 cars in the lot and additional roadside parking is available.

USGS QUAD: Mt. Carrigan Quadangle

MAP: (Mt. Lowell) (Mt. Anderson)


This was my first trip back to the Signal Ridge Trail since the winter of 2010 and the first section (approximately 0.5 miles) has been relocated to the west side of Whiteface Brook and avoids the first brook crossing.  The rooty trail meanders through hardwoods and glacial erratics before returning to Whiteface brook and the original Signal Ridge Trail. The Signal Ridge trail follows an old logging road along very gradual inclines making for easy walking 1.6 miles to a crossing of Whiteface Brook reaching the Carrigan Notch Trail at 1.7 miles. The incline of the Carrigan Notch Trail remains very gradual however is much less trodden due to most hikers following Signal Ridge to Mt. Carrigan.  the 2.3 mile trail transitions through hardwood, fir and back to hardwood trees reaching Vose Spur rock (N44 05.862, W71 25.479) after 1.5 miles.  The 'trail' to vose spur is another 50 Ft. past the rock. The Carrigan Notch trail begins a slight incline reaching the height of land and Pemigewasset Wilderness boundary 0.75 miles from Vose Spur Rock and 4 miles from the trail head.

Pemigewasset Wilderness boundary sign
I was hoping to find a strategic and easy entrance from the Carrigan Notch trail to commence the bushwhack however never did. I entered the woods at a less thick section approximately 0.2 miles North from the height of land. The woods were thick and heavy making progress very slow.  I'm typically good at finding the path of least resistance however really struggled during this whack.  My intention was to hike due East to the col between Anderson & Lowell but the trees kept pushing me to the right and towards Mt. Lowell. The conditions were challenging ranging between thick, heavy and impenetrable dense live fir trees to thick, heavy and impenetrable dense dead fir trees.  The live trees were so thick it felt like people pushing against me every step of the way. I couldn't see my footing and took several blow downs to the shins and thighs. At one point I lost my footing and tripped but never fell due to the density of the tree branches holding me in place.  Hiking through the dead fir trees was worse causing scratches and puncture wounds all over my hands and arms.  I felt like a human spruce plow ducking my head, closing my eyes and taking 3 steps forward.  Repeat for 0.7 miles and 90 minutes to the summit of Mt. Lowell.  The most recent register entry was from Jan 2015.

I descended a different route along the eastern side of Mt. Lowell heading back to the col. Descent was very steep with many cliff bands and still containing thick fir.  After reaching the col I was completely spent with my energy drained. I decided to call it a day and leave Mt. Anderson as a dangler that I would attempt from the Nancy Pond side.  As I began my descent through the col I was getting closer and closer to Mt. Anderson.  At 0.19 miles to the Mt. Anderson summit (Yes, I used the GPS) I decided that the summit was too close to pass up.  The ascent was steeper and thicker than Mt. Lowell and I fought the firs every step of the way.  The 0.65 mile whack from the Lowell summit to the Anderson summit took 80 minutes.   The same group of January hikers were the last entries in the summit register.

I attempted a more direct descent from Mt. Anderson hoping to find thinner tree cover.  Due to the heavy tree density I almost walked off a 30-40 foot drop. The cliff significantly impeded my progress and dropped my already low morale.  I back tracked parallel to the horrible route I ascended and never found easy terrain finally reaching the Carrigan Notch trail approximately 0.1 mile to the North of my entry point.  2 miles of bushwhacking returning to the trail 4 hours after entering the woods.

I was drained of energy and enjoyed the non-technical return along the gradual Carrigan Notch and Signal Ridge trails on my spaghetti legs.


Parking - Signal Ridge trail jct. 1.7 Mi. 1.7 Mi.
Carrigan Notch Trail - Pemigewasset wilderness boundary 2.3 Mi. 4.0 Mi.
Pemigewasset wilderness boundary - Start of bushwhack 0.25 Mi. 4.25 Mi.
Start of bushwhack - Mt. Lowell 0.7 Mi. 4.9 Mi.
Mt. Lowell - Mt. Anderson 0.65 Mi. 5.55 Mi.
Mt. Anderson - Carrigan Notch trail 0.6 Mi. 6.15 Mi.
Carrigan Notch trail - Pemi. Wilderness boundary 0.35 Mi. 6.5 Mi.
Pemi. Wilderness boundary - Signal Ridge trail 2.3 Mi. 8.8 Mi.
Signal Ridge trail - Parking 1.7 Mi. 10.5 Mi.


Parking - Signal Ridge trail jct. 40 min 40 min
Carrigan Notch Trail - Pemigewasset wilderness boundary 45 min 1 Hr 25 min
Pemigewasset wilderness boundary - Start of bushwhack 10 min 1 Hr 35 min
Start of bushwhack - Mt. Lowell 1 Hr 40 min 3 Hr 15 min
Mt. Lowell - Mt. Anderson 1 Hr 15 min 4 Hr 30 min
Mt. Anderson - Carrigan Notch trail 1 hr 10 min 5 hr 40 min
Carrigan Notch trail - Pemi. Wilderness boundary 7 min 5 hr 47 min
Pemi. Wilderness boundary - Signal Ridge trail 43 min 6 Hr 30 min
Signal Ridge trail - Parking 45 min 7 Hr 15 min


It's been a couple years since my last bushwhack and I found myself with a free day on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.  I decided to finish off the last 2 mountains above 3700 Ft. in NH that I haven't climbed.  These two mountains kicked my butt, I'm battered, bruised, sore and exhausted but feel really proud for my perseverance and the accomplishment.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Merrimack NH Highpoint (Unnamed) - 512 Ft

STATE: New Hampshire
TOWN: Merrimack
DESTINATION: Merrimack Town Highpoint
SUMMIT COORDINATES: N42 51.863, W71 33.186
TRAIL: Gateway Trail, Ridge Trail, bushwhack
DISTANCE: 1.8 miles
HIKING TIME: 40 minutes
SEASON: Summer
DATE: September 28, 2014
WEATHER: Sunny, warm

PARKING: Parking can be fount at the playing fields behind Merrimack Middle School off Madeline Bennett Drive.

USGS QUAD: USGS South Merrimack Quad

MAP: (Merrimack HighPoint)


Drive past the entrance to Merrimack Middle School and park at the lot providing access to the soccer fields.  The gravel access road called the Gateway Trail  makes a S pattern and continues 0.45 miles to the Ridge Trail entrance. The Ridge Trail is marked with a vertical sign post on the left. After 0.04 miles the ridge trail exits left and a path continues straight. Drop and cross the culvert continuing on this unparked trail 0.11 miles to a 'end of trail' sign and rocks blocking passage of wheeled vehicles. Continue walking another 0.2 miles to a trail merge. Bear right and begin your gradual ascent. After 0.55 miles you reach the height of land and the true summit is a few hundred feet to the left. The summit was marked with a glass jar and small log book. Most registries were accidental finds by local hunters.


Gateway Trail - Ridge Trail 0.35 Mi 0.35 Mi
Ridge Trail - End of Ridge Trail 0.1 Mi 0.45 Mi
End of Ridge Trail - Summit 0.45 Mi 0.90 Mi
Summit - Parking 0.90 Mi 1.8 Mi


Gateway Trail - Ridge Trail 10 min 10 min
Ridge Trail - End of Ridge Trail 2 min 12 min
End of Ridge Trail - Summit 8 min 20 min
Summit - Parking 18 min 30 min


After examining Google Earth and topo maps, I expected to bushwhack approximately 0.4 miles.  It was a pleasant surprise to find such a well defined trail system leading a few hundred feet from the summit. Coming from the height of land you'll need to bushwhack a few hundred feet over a false summit to the true summit marked with a small cairn. I was extremely surprised to find a canister jar at the summit.  The entries were all from local hunters who stumbled upon the HP. I didn't see any hiking names or reports from people intentionally trying to find the high point.

The Gateway and Ridge Trail junction. 
Merrimack NH Highpoint

Monday, November 25, 2013

Pliny Mountain - 3605 Ft

STATE:New Hampshire
TOWN: Kilkenny
DESTINATION: Pliny Mountain
SUMMIT COORDINATES:44 25.018, W71 23.577
TRAIL: Abandoned Priscilla Brook Trail, Bushwhack
DISTANCE: 5 miles
HIKING TIME: 3 hours
DATE: November 24, 2013
WEATHER: 15 degrees, light snow, windy


From the Route 115 and Route 2 intersection follow route 2 north for .4 miles. Directly opposite Six Gun City turn right on Ingerson Road. At 1.0 miles bear left at the intersection with Pond of Safety Rd continuing another 1.3 miles to the unmarked Priscilla Brook Trailhead on your right just before the single lane bridge crossing of Priscilla Brook. There is a small pull off capable of squeezing 2 cars and roadside parking is available.

USGS QUAD: USGS Jefferson Quad

MAP: (Pliny Mountain)


The Priscilla Brook trail is no longer maintained and it's condition is extremely poor. The first mile of trail follows the right bank of Priscilla Brook and drainage makes it extremely muddy in places, runoff has caused additional erosion. 2-3 inches of snow prevented me from seeing several pockets of mud before placing my boot down sinking ankle deep in a few places. The trail is full of blowdowns which get progressively worse as you increase elevation. As the trail breaks right separating from the river it is a jumbled mess of downed trees combined with hidden mud pockets. I intended to follow the Priscilla Brook trail to the height of land then bear South to the Pliny summit however the trail was extremely difficult to navigate walking the tightrope of downed trees and attempting to avoid the wet mushy trail. I found it easier to depart the trail and indirectly bushwhack towards the Pliny summit. I set a bearing in a northwesterly direction bushwhacking through 4-5 inches of powder in mostly open woods then turning south with about 0.3 to the summit. The woods contained random blowdowns to hop over but were primarily open making this an easy bushwhack. The summit is marked with a PVC canister and most recently entry was from Wayne R on 8/25/2013


Priscilla Brook Trail - start of bushwhack 1.5 miles 1.5 miles
bushwhack - Pliny summit 1.0 miles 2.5 miles


Priscilla Brook Trail - start of bushwhack 45 minutes 45 minutes
bushwhack - Pliny summit 1 hour1 hour 45 minutes
Pliny summit - parking1 hour 15 minutes3 hours


I planned on hiking a different mountain today however my late start, last nights 3-4 inches of snow along with the excessive wind and raw conditions caused an impromptu change of plans. As I passed through snowy Franconia Notch I considered mount Martha but was looking forward to a bushwhack. After perusing my DeLorme the nearby Pliny Mountain called my name due to it's short whack, limited views at the summit and a great hill to test my bushwhacking ability and start off the winter hiking season. At 3605 feet it's ranked 87th on the list of New Hampshire 100 highest. I didn't take a lot of photos on this hike for a couple of reasons, the cold temperatures and there weren't a lot of photographic opportunities.

Priscilla Brook trailhead on Ingerson road

 The open woods bushwhack

The Pliny mountain summit canister