Friday, May 24, 2013

Whiteface Mtn. / East Sleeper / West Sleeper

STATE: New Hampshire
DESTINATION: Mt. Whiteface / East Sleeper / West Sleeper
ELEVATION: 4006 Ft. / 3840 Ft. / 3881 Ft.
TRAIL: Blueberry Ledge Trail, Kate Sleeper Trail
DISTANCE: 13 Miles
ELEVATION GAIN:
HIKING TIME: 5 Hours
SEASON: Late Spring
DATE: June 6, 2009
WEATHER: Sunny, Warm

PARKING: From Sandwich follow 113 and 113A North 11 miles to Wonalancet. Turn left onto Ferncroft Rd. After the open fields the large hiker parking area bears to the right. Ferncroft road continues to private property on the left.

MAP: (Whiteface) (East Sleeper) (West Sleeper)



DESCRIPTION: The Blueberry Ledge Trail is one of the most aptly named trails in the whites. From the Ferncroft road parking lot hike along Ferncroft Road where the road splits to the left, crosses a stream and Blueberry Ledge Trail begins it's ascent. The climb begins gently but becomes much more challenging after reaching the Blueberry Ledge Cutoff at 1.6 miles. You literally walk along granite ledges peppered with blueberry bushes. The trail is much steeper here but terrain is varied making it enjoyable. You'll pass a open ledge lookout offering views into the basin between Whiteface and Passaconaway then the trail ascends a steep and narrow ridge. You will need balance and hand holds to climb the bare rock ledges and the final pitch to the summit is a technical challenge reaching a spectacular viewpoint just before the summit. The open rock faces offer the best views of the area however the 4000 Ft. true summit is a few hundred feet North on the Blueberry Ledge Trail.

The Kate Sleeper trail branches left between the southern viewpoint and the actual Whiteface summit. The Kate Sleeper Trail descends steeply through overgrowth 0.8 miles to the col between East Sleeper and Whiteface meeting the Downes Brook Trail.  Continue along the Kate Sleeper Trail another 0.8 miles where a short spur trail leads to a sign marking the East Sleeper summit.  At 3840 Ft. East Sleeper is peak number 85 on the AMC list of New England 100 highest mountains. At 3881 Ft. West Sleeper (a New Hampshire 100 highest peak) is actually higher than it's eastern sister however due to a lack of elevation from the saddle between South Tripyramid and West Sleeper is omitted from the AMC list.  West Sleeper is 1.0 miles to the West over relatively easy ups and downs along the Kate Sleeper trail.  The secluded-ness of being inside a remote wilderness fills your bones as you continue northwest descending into a col then rising to West Sleeper 6.5 miles from your parking spot.

TRAIL DISTANCES:

Blueberry Ledge trail - Whiteface Summit = 3.8 Miles
Kate Sleeper Trail - Downes Brook Trail = 0.8 Miles
Downes Brook Trail - East Sleeper = 0.8 Miles
East Sleeper - West Sleeper = 1.0 Miles
West Sleeper - East Sleeper = 1.0 Miles
East Sleeper - Blueberry Ledge Trail = 1.6 Miles
Blueberry ledge Trail - Parking = 3.8 Miles

HIKING TIMES:

Blueberry Ledge trail - Whiteface Summit = 90 minutes
Kate Sleeper Trail - East Sleeper = 45 Minutes
East Sleeper  - West Sleeper = 30 Minutes
West Sleeper - East Sleeper = 25 Minutes
East Sleeper - Blueberry Ledge Trail = 35 Minutes
Blueberry ledge Trail - Parking = 1 Hr. 15 min.

NOTES / COMMENTS:

This was my 3rd visit to the Whiteface summit and the views get more and more impressive each time. Mt. Passaconaway and the basin between the two peaks is impressive. Most hikers plan a loop over the two highpoints in the area Whiteface and Passaconaway (4043 Ft) bagging two 4000 footers in one trip. For more information on Mt. Passaconaway you can find a trip report here. Once I hit the Kate Sleeper trail the wide trail tightened and my shoulders were brushed by the overgrowth. I started my descent down the Kate Sleeper Trail traveling deeper and deeper into the remote Sandwich Range Wilderness. The trail started to thin and I encountered more signs of wildlife and less signs of humanity. The Kate Sleeper trail between East Sleeper and West Sleeper was filled with piles and piles of moose scat.
Mt. Passaconaway from Mt. Whiteface

A sign marking the start of the Kate Sleeper Trail

The 3840 Ft. East Sleeper Summit.

Watch your step!

2 comments:

  1. Just did this exact hike. It was great! you have some impressive hiking times!

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    Replies
    1. I hope you enjoyed the experience and my trip report was useful.

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