Saturday, June 15, 2013

Federal Hill Fire Tower - 695 Ft.

Federal Hill fire tower
 
STATE: New Hampshire
DESTINATION: Federal Hill Fire Tower
ELEVATION: 695 Ft.
TRAIL: Tower Road
DISTANCE: 0.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 160 Ft.
HIKING TIME: 20 minutes
SEASON: Late Spring
DATE: June 15, 2013
WEATHER: 75 degrees, sunny, clear


PARKING: Follow Ponemah road in Milford 1.5 miles south to the gated tower road on your right. Park road side, do not block the gate.


MAP: (Federal Hill)



DESCRIPTION:

From parking on Ponemah Road there are two trail options to the fire tower. Pass the gate and walk Tower road 100 feet. A 4x4 trail branches left or continue along the gravel fire road to the summit.

The fire road is lined with mountain laurel and blueberry bushes. Follow the road (or trail) for 0.25 miles to the summit. There is a flag pole and several buildings along with a fire tower at the summit.  There is a benchmark disk embedded in a cement block to the left of the fire tower steps.  The summit is an open dome however tree cover prevents the good views unless you climb to the observation platform on the fire tower.

TRAIL DISTANCES:

Parking - Summit = 0.25 miles

HIKING TIMES:

Parking - Summit = 20 minutes

NOTES / COMMENTS:

Federal Hill contains one of 16 active fire towers in New Hampshire making it's low elevation a popular destination in southern New Hampshire. It's short trail distances make it a great hike for children.
The gated entrance to Tower road

Mountain Laurel lining the side of the gravel road
 
Nearing the summit
 
View of the Uncanoonuc Mountains from the observation platform

Burns Hill - Milford NH - 751 Ft.

A cairn marking the Burns Hill summit
STATE: New Hampshire
DESTINATION: Burns Hill
ELEVATION: 751 Ft.
TRAIL: Unnamed white blazed trail
DISTANCE: 0.70 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 300 Ft.
HIKING TIME: 30 minutes
SEASON: Late Spring
DATE: June 15, 2013
WEATHER: 75 degrees, sunny, clear



PARKING:

From the Milford Oval take Osgood Street south and look for the hiker sign and Mullen Rd on your right. Follow the dirt Mullen road 0.2 miles to a cul-de-sac at it's end.

MAP: (Burns Hill)



DESCRIPTION: From the Hitchner Picnic area and pavilion at the end of Mullen road follow the white blazed trail in a westerly direction. The un-named trail is well marked with white blazes and Hitchner Town forest signs making it easy to navigate. Follow the white blazes a few hundred feet to the junction with the gray trail. The white trail branches left and follows a well crafted rock wall through a mountain laurel forest, turns right, crosses a foot bridge then merges with the upper junction of the grey trail. After the merge cross a wet and muddy section then bear right on the East Summit Trail and begin a short and steep ascent along a single track trail to Burns hill. You soon reach a ridge and travel through open woods to the summit. The summit is marked with a small cairn and offers minimal views in the direction of Pack Monadnock and North Pack Monadnock.

Descend the way you cam or take the longer 4x4 carriage road back down.

TRAIL DISTANCES:

Hitchner Town Forest picnic area - East Summit Trail = 0.15 miles
East Summit trail - Burns Hill summit = 0.2 miles

HIKING TIMES:

Parking - Summit = 15 minutes

NOTES / COMMENTS:

Burns Hill is not a high peak in southern New Hampshire but contains a 300 Ft. saddle which makes it the 35th most prominent summit in Hillsborough county (if anyone is counting) and a very enjoyable hike.

The trails are easy to follow and it's short distance makes it a great hike for children.

 The trailhead
 
Mountain Laurel in bloom
 
A sign marking the junction with the East Summit Trail
 
Views of Pack Monadnock and North Pack Monadnock

Friday, June 14, 2013

Mt. Lafayette / Mt. Lincoln

Mt. Lafayette and Mt. Lincoln from the Old Bridle Path
STATE: New Hampshire
DESTINATION: Mt. Lafayette / Mt. Lincoln
ELEVATION: 5260 Ft. / 5089 Ft.
TRAIL: Falling Waters Trail, Franconia Ridge trail, Old Bridle Path
DISTANCE: 9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 3480 Ft.
HIKING TIME: 5 hours
SEASON: Winter
DATE: February 6, 2010
WEATHER: Sunny, clear, windy


PARKING:

Follow I93 into Franconia Notch and park at Lafayette Place. There are parking areas on both sides of the highway with a tunnel connecting parking lots.

MAP: (Lafayette) (Lincoln)




DESCRIPTION: From your parking are ascend the paved sidewalk to the Falling Waters Trail. The trail crosses, follows and re-crosses Dry Brook as it passes 4 -5 sets of waterfalls each more stunning than the last. The most recognizable of the falls are the 30 Ft tall Stairs Falls, 60 foot Swiftwater Falls and 80 foot Cloudwater Falls. The steep ascent is bearable knowing another beautiful waterfall looms not much further ahead. The trail eventually climbs the steep mountainside of Little Haystack and reaches an outlook known as 'shining rock' a short distance below tree line. At 3.2 miles you reach the 4760 foot summit of Little Haystack. Continue 0.7 miles north along the open and barren Franconia Ridge Trail to the 5089 foot summit of Mt. Lincoln. Mt. Lafayette is another 0.9 miles north. The open ridge is high and narrow with steep slopes on both sides. Be cautious of weather conditions as there are not a lot of bailout or hiding spots along the exposed ridgeline.

From the Mt. Lafayette summit follow the cairns marking the Greenleaf Trail as it steeply and rockily descends west towards Greenleaf Hut. From the hut follow the popular Old Bridle Path 2.9 miles down the steep ridge through scrubby growth with passages of open rock as you descend. Here you will see dramatic views of the Lafayette Summit and the steep Walker Ravine.

TRAIL DISTANCES:

Falling Waters Trail - Old Bridle Path junction = 0.2 miles
Falling Waters Trail - Shining Rock Spur = 2.8 miles
Falling Waters Trail - Franconia Ridge Trail =  3.2 miles total
Franconia Ridge Trail - Mt. Lincoln = 0.7 miles - 3.9 total
Mt. Lincoln - Mt Lafayette = 1.0 miles - 4.9 total
Mt. Lafayette - Greenleaf Hut = 1.1 miles - 6.0 total
Greenleaf Hut - Parking = 2.9 miles - 8.9 miles

HIKING TIMES:

Falling Waters Trail - Old Bridle Path junction = 5 minutes
Falling Waters Trail - Shining Rock Spur = 1 hour
Falling Waters Trail - Franconia Ridge Trail =  1 hour 20 minutes
Franconia Ridge Trail - Mt. Lincoln = 2 hours
Mt. Lincoln - Mt Lafayette = 2.5 hours
Mt. Lafayette - Greenleaf Hut = 3 hours
Greenleaf Hut - Parking = 5 hours

NOTES / COMMENTS:

Franconia Ridge is the scarred and steep rocky ridge that towers 3000 feet over I93 as you pass through Franconia Notch. It provides excellent alpine hiking and include four mountains over 4000 feet tall. The ridge can be traversed in an entire day however would require a road walk or car spot. The Appalachian Trail traverses the ridge and almost 10 trails provide access to Franconia ridge.






















Each of the waterfalls along the Falling Waters trail are spectacular, Stairs Falls is the upper left photo and Swiftwater falls is the upper right. Shortly before tree line the short side trail to "shining rock" is worth the visit. In wet conditions the slick granite rock face acts as a mirror reflecting the sunlight off the giant cliff face surface.
Shining rock isn't very shiny in the foggy conditions

The Franconia Ridge Trail offers stunning views deep into the Pemigewasset Wilderness to the east and of Cannon Mtn. cliffs to your west.

The classic route ascends the Falling Waters trail and descends the Old Bridle path however can be climbed in either direction. This is one of the most popular hikes in the White Mountains and you will find hikers of all ages and experiences during your journey.
 Greenleaf Hut and Mt. Cannon

 The Pemigewasset Wilderness, Mt. Bond and Mt. Washington

Mt. Liberty and Mt. Flume

Mt. Madison - 5367 Ft.

STATE: New Hampshire
Mt. Madison and Madison Hut
 
DESTINATION: Mt. Madison
ELEVATION: 5367 Ft.
TRAIL: Valley Way, Gulfside Trail
DISTANCE: 9.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 4500 Feet
HIKING TIME: 6 hours
SEASON: Winter
DATE: March 20, 2010
WEATHER: Clear, cool, windy



PARKING:

Parking can be found at Appalachia on Route 2. The lot is large but fills up quickly I would recommend arriving early.

MAP:   (Mt. Madison)



DESCRIPTION:

Appalachia is the gateway to the Northern Presidential mountains of Madison, Adams and Jefferson and contains a variety of trails. From the trailhead kiosk follow Valley Way into the woods crossing a set of power lines and an active set of railroad tracks. Several trails branch off in all directions as you climb steadily and directly following Snyder Brook to your left. At 0.9 miles you reach the intersection with Randolph Path. Continue on Valley Way as it winds away from Snyder Brook another 1.5 miles passing the Lower and Upper Bruin trails leading to Bruin Rock. At 2.4 miles you reach the Watson Path intersection and transitioning into the fir trees of higher elevations. The grade becomes steeper and you soon emerge above tree-line a short distance away from Madison Hut 3.8 miles from your starting point with Mt. Madison to your left and Mt. Adams to your right.

Take a left on the Gulfside Trail and rise steeply for 0.4 miles to the summit ridge.  Follow the large cairns another 0.1 miles to the Mt. Madison summit.

TRAIL DISTANCES:

Valley Way - Randolph Path intersection = 0.9 miles
Valley Way - Watson Path intersection = 1.5 miles - 2.4 miles total
Valley Way - Madison Hut = 1.4 miles - 3.8 miles total
Madison Hut - Mt. Madison = 0.5 miles = 4.3 miles total

HIKING TIMES:

Valley Way - Randolph Path intersection = 45 minutes
Valley Way - Watson Path intersection = 1 hour - 1 hour 45 minutes total
Valley Way - Madison Hut = 1 hour - 2 hours 45 minutes total
Madison Hut - Mt. Madison = 30 minutes - 3 hours 15 minutes total

Descent = 2.5 hours

NOTES / COMMENTS:

Mt. Madison is the 5th highest peaks in New Hampshire and a mountain that offers spectacular views of it's surroundings.  The highest and second highest peaks of Mt. Washington and Mt Adams loom before you and the mountains of the Carter Range are across the valley.  It's a long and arduous journey however worth the effort. Be very aware of the weather conditions as you will be exposed above tree-line for much of this hike. If you see the weather conditions begin to worsen exercise caution and return below tree-line before a dangerous situation occurs.

The Gulfside trail follows the path of the Appalachian Trail as you ascend the ridge to Mt. Madison.

Valley Way is the easiest and most direct route to Madison Hut where Mt. Madison, Mt. Adams and Mt. Jefferson can be reached. Arguably, the best views in the mountains can be seen from these summits. 

Cairns lining your way to the Madison summit. 
 
Mt. Madison from Madison Hut

Mt. Washington in the clouds.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mt. Adams / Mt. Jefferson

Mt. Adams fro the Mt. Madison summit
STATE: New Hampshire
DESTINATION: Mt. Adams / Mt. Jefferson
ELEVATION: 5774 Ft. / 5712 Ft.
TRAIL: Valley Way, Gulfside Trail, Air Line, Lowe's Path, Gulfside Trail
DISTANCE: 13 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 4500 Feet
HIKING TIME: 6 - 8 hours
SEASON: Winter
DATE: March 6, 2010
WEATHER: Clear, cool, windy


PARKING:

Parking can be found at Appalachia on Route 2. The lot is large but fills up quickly I would recommend arriving early.

MAP: (Mt. Adams) (Mt. Jefferson) 



DESCRIPTION:

Appalachia is the gateway to the Northern Presidential mountains of Madison, Adams and Jefferson and contains a variety of trails. From the trailhead kiosk follow Valley Way into the woods crossing a set of power lines and an active set of railroad tracks. Several trails branch off in all directions as you climb steadily and directly following Snyder Brook to your left. At 0.9 miles you reach the intersection with Randolph Path. Continue on Valley Way as it winds away from Snyder Brook another 1.5 miles passing the Lower and Upper Bruin trails leading to Bruin Rock. At 2.4 miles you reach the Watson Path intersection and transitioning into the fir trees of higher elevations. The grade becomes steeper and you soon emerge above tree-line a short distance away from Madison Hut 3.8 miles from your starting point with Mt. Madison to your left and Mt. Adams to your right.

Take a right on the Gulfside Trail for 0.2 miles then branch left on Airline and additional 0.4 miles to the 5774 Ft. summit of Mt. Adams. Once you have absorbed the panoramic views of Mt. Washington and into the Great Gulf Wilderness, don't be deceived by the looming summit of Mt. Jefferson 2 miles away. The rocky terrain is steep and challenging and the short distance will take 1.5 to 2 hours to travel. Descend 0.3 miles to the large cairn of Thunderstorm Junction. Follow the Gulfside trail over open terrain 1.2 miles to Edmands Col. From Edmands Col Mt. Jefferson is a steep and arduous 0.4 miles to the summit. Return the way you came to Thunderstorm Junction then continue along the Gulfside trail skirting the summit of Mt. Adams back to Madison Hut and valley way to Appalachia Parking. Well done!

TRAIL DISTANCES:

Valley Way - Randolph Path intersection = 0.9 miles
Valley Way - Watson Path intersection = 1.5 miles - 2.4 miles total
Valley Way - Madison Hut = 1.4 miles - 3.8 miles total
Madison Hut - Mt. Adams = 0.6 miles = 4.4 miles total
Mt. Adams - Thunderstorm Junction = 0.3 miles = 4.7 miles total
Gulfside Trail - Edmands Col = 1.3 miles - 6.0 miles
Gulfside Trail - Mt. Jefferson = 0.4 miles - 6.4 miles

HIKING TIMES:

Valley Way - Randolph Path intersection = 45 minutes
Valley Way - Watson Path intersection = 1 hour - 1 hour 45 minutes total
Valley Way - Madison Hut = 1 hour - 2 hours 45 minutes total
Madison Hut - Mt. Adams = 15 minutes - 3 hours total
Mt. Adams - Thunderstorm Junction = 15 minutes - 3 hours 15 minutes total
Gulfside Trail - Edmands Col = 1 hour - 4 hours 15 minutes total
Gulfside Trail - Mt. Jefferson = 45 minutes - 5 hours total

Descent = 3 hours

NOTES / COMMENTS:

Mt. Adams and Mt. Jefferson are the 2nd and 3rd highest peaks in New Hampshire and two of my favorite mountains to hike. It's a long and arduous journey however worth the effort. Be very aware of the weather conditions as you will be exposed above tree-line for much of this hike. If you see the weather conditions begin to worsen exercise caution and return below tree-line before a dangerous situation occurs.

The Gulfside trail follows the path of the Appalachian Trail as you traverse from Mt. Adams to Mt. Jefferson.

Valley Way is the easiest and most direct route to Madison Hut where Mt. Madison, Mt. Adams and Mt. Jefferson can be reached. Arguably the best views in the mountains can be seen from these summits. You are surrounded by the northern presidentials of Mt. Madison, Mt. Adams and Mt. Jefferson. Mt. Washington is 3.5 miles to your South and the Carter Range is across the valley.

  Mt. Madison from near the summit of Mt. Adams

Madison Hut and Mt. Madison from the Gulfside trail
 
Mt. Washington from Mt. Adams
 
The Mt. Jefferson summit

 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Moosilauke - 4802 Ft.

STATE: New Hampshire
DESTINATION: Mt. Moosilauke
ELEVATION: 4802 Ft.
TRAIL: Ravine Lodge Rd, Gorge Brook Trail
DISTANCE: 10.4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN:
HIKING TIME: 3 - 4 hours
SEASON: Winter
DATE: February 7, 2010
WEATHER: overcast, snow, wind


PARKING:

From 93 take Route 112 West to route 118 south/west. Follow 118 and just after the height of land Ravine Lodge Rd. will be on your right. The road is gated in winter however during normal hiking season you can drive the road 1.6 miles to Mountain Lodge and park along the side of the road.

MAP: (Moosilauke)



DESCRIPTION:

This was a winter ascend and I didn't realize Ravine Lodge road would be gated. This required an additional 1.6 mile walk (each way) to Ravine Lodge and the Gorge Brook Trailhead. Descend behind the lodge and follow the carriage road to the right leading to several trailheads. On the "class of 1982" bridge, cross the Baker River and look for signs marking the Gorge Brook Trail. The Gorge Brook trail ascends gradually along Gorge Brook over a relatively light grade crossing the brook twice. At 1.4 miles and approximately the 1/2 way point the trail reaches a memorial plaque for Ross McKenney (a Dartmouth Outing Club member) and the last good water source. This route was relocated in the early 90's and turns right then climbs more steeply joining an old logging road before encountering a series of switchbacks. You eventually reach an open area known as "The Balcony", makes a short drop, hits tree line as it approaches the open and bare summit.

The summit is marked with an extremely large cairn and provides substantial views of Franconia Ridge and the nearby mountains.

TRAIL DISTANCES:

Ravine Lodge road - Gorge Brook Trail = 1.4 miles (Winter Only)
Gorge Brook Trail - Ross McKenney plaque = 1.4 miles
Plaque - Summit = 2.3 miles

HIKING TIMES:

Ravine Lodge road - Gorge Brook Trail = 30 minutes (Winter Only)
Gorge Brook Trail - Ross McKenney plaque = 30 minutes
Plaque - Summit = 60 minutes

NOTES / COMMENTS:

At 4802 Mt. Moosilauke is the 10th highest peak in New Hampshire and is the highest point in both the towns of Benton and Woodstock. It has a bare summit with views in all directions. The summit contains stone foundations of a former ski area. The name Moosilauke is the Algonquin Indian word for "bald place" and a very apt description of the Moosilauke Summit.

  

Monday, June 10, 2013

Mt. Cardigan - Firescrew

STATE: New Hampshire
DESTINATION: Mt. Cardigan / Firescrew
ELEVATION: 3155 Ft / 3064 Ft
TRAIL: Holt Trail, Cathedral Forest Trail, Clark Trail, Mowglis Trail, Manning Trail
DISTANCE: 5.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN:
HIKING TIME: 2 to 3 hours
SEASON: Spring
DATE: May 8, 2008
WEATHER: Sunny, cool

PARKING:

From Bristol Take Route 3A north for 2 miles. At the blinking light turn left on West Short Rd and travel 2 miles. Stay straight on Cardigan Mountain Rd (West Shore Rd continues right) for 1 mile. Turn left on North road. After 1 mile turn right onto Washburn Rd then make a quick right onto Mt. Cardigan Rd. Continue 3.5 miles and stay left at the intersection. Follow Shem Valley Road 1.4 miles to Cardigan Lodge. There is plenty of parking. The trailhead is at the far end of the parking lot.

MAP: (Cardigan) (Firescrew) (State Park Map)



DESCRIPTION:

From the Cardigan Lodge parking lot continue to the far end and follow the Holt and Manning trails along the broad woods road. At 0.3 miles you reach the Holt / Manning trail split. Follow the Holt trail through a maple, beech and birch forest as it parallels Bailey Brook to your left. After 0.5 miles you cross the brook on a wooden bridge and reach Grand Junction in another 0.3 miles. Turn left onto the Cathedral Forest Trail continuing through the hardwood trees 0.5 miles to the junction with the Clark Trail. Turn Right and follow the Clark trail as it emerges into red spruce shrubs and rocky terrain between 2500 and 2800 Ft elevation. At roughly 2800 Ft the terrain will transition to fragile vegetation. The fire tower summit is not far away.

There are panoramic views of central New Hampshire and the surrounding area. The White mountains are rising to the north, Vermont's Green Mountains are to your west and the nearby mountains are Orange Mtn., Kearsarge Mtn., and Ragged Mtn. Instead of returning the path you ascended I recommend descending the Mowglis Trail down northern side of the mountain along Firescrew ridge. The 0.5 mile Mowglis trail descends steeply to the col then follows the ridge which connects Firescrew to Mt. Cardigan. Once you reach the summit of Firescrew turn right onto the Manning trail and descend, steeply in a few places 2.5 miles to the AMC Cardigan Lodge.

TRAIL DISTANCES:

Cardigan Lodge - Holt / Manning trail junction = 0.3 miles
Holt Trail - Grand Junction = 0.5 miles
Grand Junction - Clark Trail = 0.5 miles
Clark Trail - Summit = 0.5 miles
Mowglis Trail - Firescrew = 0.5 miles
Manning Trail - Cardigan Lodge 2.5 miles

HIKING TIMES:

Cardigan Lodge - Holt / Manning trail junction = 10 minutes
Holt Trail - Grand Junction = 20 minutes
Grand Junction - Clark Trail = 20 minutes
Clark Trail - Summit = 20 minutes
Mowglis Trail - Firescrew = 20 minutes
Manning Trail - Cardigan Lodge = 1 hour

NOTES / COMMENTS:

A 1855 fire severely burned the mountain top destroying all the vegetation resulting in soil erosion leaving the summit completely bare.  Alpine vegetation is extremely difficult to grow and extremely fragile near the summit.  The AMC requests you stay on the trail at all times.

Mt. Cardigan is an extremely popular destination amongst hikers of all ages. it's bare summit provides awesome views of central New Hampshire, Vermont and nearby peaks. It is home of one New Hampshire's few remaining standing Fire towers and is the highest point in the town of Orange. a slope on Firescrew ridge to the north is the highest point in the town of Alexandria.

The view of Mt. Cardigan from the Clark Trail
 
View from Mt. Cardigan.
 



Saturday, June 8, 2013

Mt. Mansfield - Chin to Forehead

A cairn and the Mt. Mansfield Chin summit looming ahead
 
STATE: Vermont
DESTINATION: Mt. Mansfield Chin / Mt. Mansfield Nose
ELEVATION: 4393 Ft. / 4062 Ft.
TRAIL: Laura Cowles trail, Long trail, Maple Ridge trail, CCC road
DISTANCE: 8+ miles
ELEVATION GAIN: Approximately 2515 Ft
HIKING TIME: 4 - 5 hours
SEASON: Late Spring
DATE: June 8, 2013
WEATHER: 50 degrees, rain, sleet and strong winds


PARKING:

From I89 take exit 11 for route 2 and 117 towards Richmond and take a sharp right onto 117 toward Jericho. Turn Right on to Skunk Hollow Road to it's merge with Plains Rd. Continue on Plains Rd taking a left on Lee River Rd. and a very quick right onto VT route 15. Follow route 15 through Jericho Center taking a Right on River Rd. Take a Right on Mountain Road to Underhill State Park at it's termination. entrance fee is typically $3.00 for adults and $2.00 for Children.

MAP: (Mansfield Chin)   (Mansfield Nose)


DESCRIPTION:

From Parking at Underhill State Park follow the CCC road a short distance to the nearby parking lot and Eagles Cut trail to it's right. Follow the Eagles Cut trail straight 0.4 miles crossing the CCC road 3 times until the Eagles Cut Trail merges with and continues along the CCC road another 0.2 miles to the Sunset Ridge Trailhead Kiosk and hiker register. Follow the Sunset Ridge Trail 0.1 miles crossing 3 foot bridges to the Junction of the Laura Cowles Trail.

The 1.5 mile Laura Cowles Trail is marked with blue blazes and parallels a brook to your left through a hardwood beech and birch forest. Don't let the short distance and docile description fool you because the trail ascends steeply following rocky steps quickly changing tundra to a birch and fir tree transition as it quickly increases elevation. There are a few minor blow downs that require minimal avoidance but the trail is well marked and easy to follow crossing a brook and following it to your right a few hundred feet before crossing the brook a second time as you begin a steep ascent over bare rock slabs eventually exposing yourself to the elements before merging with the Sunset Ridge trail a few hundred feet from the summit ridge. Continue to the junction with the Long Trail marked in white and continue north 0.2 miles to the 4393 Ft. Mt. Mansfield Chin. The Chin has an obvious highpoint and is marked with a benchmark.

From the Chin return south along the Long Trail along the profile of Mt. Mansfield passing the Sunset Ridge Trail then passing the lower lip located a short distance off the trail at 0.4 miles. Pass the Upper Lip at 0.5 miles and the deceiving Stowe Pinnacle which includes a summit building, summit cairn marked with a benchmark disc continuing a total of 1.1 miles to the junction with the Summit Toll Rd., parking lot and summit facility. This area can be popular on clear summer days.

The Long Trail follows the Summit toll road 0.3 miles and continues south into the woods. For those wishing to summit the 4020 Ft. Mansfield Nose follow the auto road a short distance past the summit buildings to the Ron Whitcomb Communication Facility and the Mansfield Nose a few hundred feet away. There are 3 possible summit highpoints however I found a severely damaged benchmark at the easternmost point. Descend to the Long Trail 0.35 miles to the 3940 Ft. Forehead. The Maple Ridge Trail is marked with blue blazes and descends between precariously steep to utterly dangerous conditions. The trail is very difficult containing challenging terrain descending rock cliff slabs and open crevasses making the 1.4 miles to the CCC road an arduous journey. Take your time. I would not recommend ascending or descending the Maple Ridge Trail in any situation unless you are in excellent physical condition and looking for an extreme hiking adventure. Follow the CCC Road 2.1 miles as it ascends a few hundred feet then gradually descends back to the Sunset Ridge trail junction and kiosk.

Follow the CCC road / Eagle Cut trail 0.6 miles back to the Underhill State Park Headquarters.

TRAIL DISTANCES:

Parking to Sunset Ridge trailhead kiosk - 0.6 miles
Sunset Ridge trailhead kiosk - Laura Cowles Trail = 0.1 miles
Laura Cowles Trail - Upper Sunset Ridge Junction = 1.4 miles
Sunset Ridge Trail - Long Trail = 0.1 miles
Long Trail - Mt. Mansfield Chin Summit = 0.1 miles
Mt Mansfield Chin Summit - Mt. Mansfield Nose = 1.7 Miles
Mt. Mansfield Nose - Mt. Mansfield Forehead = 0.35 miles
Mt Mansfield Forehead - CCC Road via Maple Ridge Trail = 1.4 miles
CCC road = parking = 2.1 miles

HIKING TIMES:

Parking to Sunset Ridge trailhead kiosk - 15 minutes
Sunset Ridge trailhead kiosk - Laura Cowles Trail upper Sunset Ridge Junction = 1 hour
upper Sunset Ridge Junction - Mt. Mansfield Chin Summit = 5 minutes
Mt Mansfield Chin Summit - Mt. Mansfield Nose = 55 minutes
Mt. Mansfield Nose - Mt. Mansfield Forehead = 25 minutes
Mt Mansfield Forehead - CCC Road via Maple Ridge Trail = 1 hour
CCC road = parking = 30 minutes

NOTES / COMMENTS: There are no easy trails to the highest peak in Vermont. The Sunset Ridge Trail and Laura Cowles trails are described as difficult and I would consider the Maple Ridge Trail extremely difficult. Adding todays overcast skies and poor weather conditions into the equation eliminated the picturesque Sunset Ridge Trail from the equation and our choice to ascend the short and steep Laura Cowles Trail. In the wet and rainy conditions I was impressed with the trail drainage as it ascends very steeply up rock steps to the ridge. Once we hit the exposed ridge the consistent 15-20 MPH wind with whipping rain made every step a challenging journey.

Hiking the LT North to South along the profile of Mt. Mansfield is a journey I have wanted to make for a long time. Even with the obliterated views and overcast conditions the trail didn't disappoint as it descends the ridge scarred with glacial striations filled with green mica giving the Green Mountains their name.

At 4393 Ft the Mansfield Chin is the highest peak in Vermont. The 4062 Ft. Nose is recently considered one of the 6 peaks in Vermont above 4000 Ft.


 


The Underhill State Park road kiosk and informative sign marking the Eagle Cut trail to the Sunset Ridge Trail. 
After 0.1 miles into the Sunset Ridge Trail and 3 river crossings you reach the Laura Cowles Trail marked above.
 
A benchmark disk and triangular reference mark marking the summit of Mt. Mansfield Chin.
 
The Mt. Mansfield Nose 4040 Ft. Highpoint.

A sign along the CCC road marking the entrance to the Arduous and challenging Maple Ridge Trail

Friday, June 7, 2013

South Hill - New Boston - 1041 Ft.

South Hill summit stump
STATE: New Hampshire
DESTINATION: South Hill
ELEVATION: 1041 Ft.
TRAIL: bushwhack
DISTANCE: 0.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 50 Ft.
HIKING TIME: 20 minutes
SEASON: Late Spring
DATE: June 7, 2013
WEATHER: 55 degrees, rain


PARKING:

From route 13 turn onto Meadow Rd. At 0.85 miles merge with McCollum Road and drive 0.2 miles turning left onto South Hill Rd. South Hill Rd deteriorates after 1.0 miles and becomes a class 6 road. I parked at a recently logged clearing.

MAP: (South Hill)



DESCRIPTION:

South Hill Road is posted private property on its western side there is a house and private property blocking a direct path to the summit however, it is my understanding that the South Hill summit is part of a Society for the Protection of NH Forests managed property making it accessible. From parking I bushwhacked in a northeastern direction a few hundred feet then adjusted my bearing a few degrees heading almost true north through mostly open woods to the South Hill summit.  The summit is not marked and there is not an obvious highpoint.  Wander the summit bump until you're satisfied that the highpoint has been touched. I considered a 3 Ft tall stump with what appeared to be barbed wire scars in it's trunk. Be considerate of the private house which can be seen a few hundred feet to your west.

TRAIL DISTANCES:

Bushwhack to summit = 0.3 miles

HIKING TIMES:

Bushwhack to summit = 10 minutes

NOTES / COMMENTS:

South Hill is an extremely uneventful peak however if you want a reason to visit other than the pure bushwhacking adventure at 1041 Ft. it is the 31st highest point in Hillsborough County. There were many signs of wildlife and I spotted a doe and fawn upon descent.

Storey Hill - 1025 Ft. / Wilkins Point - 1015 Ft.

Wilkins Point - the 1015 Ft/ highpoint of Mont Vernon
STATE: New Hampshire
DESTINATION: Storey Hill - Wilkins Point (Mont Vernon Highpoint)
ELEVATION: 1025 Ft. / 1015 Ft.
TRAIL: road walk / Morrissette Trail / bushwhack
DISTANCE: 1.05 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 50 Ft.
HIKING TIME: 30 minutes
SEASON: Late Spring
DATE: June 7, 2013
WEATHER: 55 degrees, rain


PARKING:

From route 13 turn onto Meadow Rd. At 0.85 miles merge with McCollum Road and drive 0.2 miles turning left onto South Hill Rd. South Hill Rd deteriorates after 1.0 miles and becomes a class 6 road. I parked at a recently logged clearing however someone with a higher clearance vehicle could progress all the way to the actual trailhead.

MAP: (Storey Hill)


DESCRIPTION:

I parked at an open clearing on South Hill Rd where the road widens enough for a car to pull over cleanly. Continue South along South Hill Rd 0.4 miles to GPS coordinates N42 55.667, W71 48.568. There is an average sized rock cairn on the left next to a large diameter oak tree. The 400 Ft. Morrisette trail requires minimal navigational skills as it progresses to an old stone wall marking the boundary between New Boston and Mont Vernon and the Mont Vernon highpoint. I was very surprised to see a sign labeled "Wilkins Point - 1015 Ft." at the Mont Vernon highpoint. The summit is an additional 400 Ft. bushwhack to the north. The Storey Hill does not have any official markings however I found a small 3 rock cairn at what I considered the highest point.

TRAIL DISTANCES:

Road walk to Wilkins Point trailhead = 0.40 miles
Wilkins Point trail - Wilkins Point = 400 Ft.
Wilkins Point - Storey Hill summit = 400 Ft.

NOTES / COMMENTS:

This hike was an unexpected pleasant surprise. The Mont Vernon highpoint is along the contour line of Storey Hill and a few hundred feet from the actual summit. I didn't expect the highpoint or Storey Hill to be an exciting or memorable hike and I was excited to find a trailhead cairn, a trail leading directly to the marked Mont Vernon Highpoint. Research shows this trail is called the Morrisette Trail and begins at the lowest point in Mont Vernon called Zahn Point. The trail follows mostly roads to the trailhead cairn and the Wilkins Point 1015 Ft. highpoint.

A cairn on S. Hill road marking the Morrissette trailhead.

The 1025 Ft. Storey Hill highpoint