Friday, July 19, 2013

Mt. Isolation - 4004 Ft.

A cairn marking the summit of Mt. Isolation
STATE: New Hampshire
TOWN: Sargent's Purchase
DESTINATION: Mt. Isolation
ELEVATION: 4004 Ft.
SUMMIT COORDINATES: N44 12.888' W71 18.552'
TRAIL: Rocky Branch trail, Engine Hill bushwhack, Isolation trail, Davis Path, Mt. Isolation Spur
DISTANCE: 12.3 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 2750 Ft.
HIKING TIME: 5 1/2 hours **
SEASON: Winter
DATE: January 9, 2011
WEATHER: Overcast, snowing

PARKING: From Jackson NH Follow route 16 north for 5 miles. The Rocky Branch parking area is on the left hand side. There is ample parking for many cars.

USGS QUAD: Stairs Mountain Quad

MAP: (Isolation)



DESCRIPTION:

From parking the Rocky Branch trail leaves the northwest corner of the parking lot and meanders it's way through a hardwood forest making many twists and turns. It climbs moderately following an old logging road. At 1.25 miles the trail turns left and ascends approximately 0.5 miles where the trail levels and follows a contour line for another 0.5 miles. the Rocky Branch trail makes a right and climbs moderately to the Presidential Range - Dry River Wilderness boundary. 0.6 miles after the wilderness boundary and 2.75 miles from your car you reach the almost unperceivable height of land, elevation 3100 feet. The exact point where the trail switches to a downward grade is hard to spot however the "Engine Hill" bushwhack begins at an open section near this location.

The Engine Hill bushwhack saves about 1.5 miles of hiking and is one of the easiest bushwhacks in the white mountains. It's simple for several reasons. It travels directly northwest following the 3100 foot contour line of Engine Hill through a birch glade and ferns 0.75 miles to the Isolation trail.

The Isolation trail parallels the right side of Rocky Branch stream and your bushwhack exit point should have put you on a very old and unnoticeable railroad grade. Follow the Isolation trail .8 miles to a crossing of Rocky Branch. The Isolation trail swings to the left and climbs easily 0.9 miles to Davis Path. Turn left (south) onto Davis Path and follow it's moderate grade 0.75 miles to the Mt. Isolation Spur trail. From here it's a short 0.1 mile pitch to the open summit of Mt. Isolation. Absorb the panoramic views from the Isolated summit. Well done!

TRAIL DISTANCES:
HIKING DISTANCES
DESTINATION
DISTANCE TOTAL DIST.
Rocky Branch Trail - Height of Land 2.75 miles 2.75 miles
Engine Hill bushwhack - Isolation Trail0.75 miles3.5 miles
Isolation Trail - Davis Path1.75 miles5.25 miles
Davis Path - Isolation Spur0.75 miles6.0 miles
Isolation Spur - Mt. Isolation Summit0.10 miles6.1 miles

HIKING TIMES:
HIKING TIMES
DESTINATION
TIME TOTAL TIME
Rocky Branch Trail - Height of Land 1.0 hours 1.0 hours
Engine Hill bushwhack - Isolation Trail30 minutes1 hour 30 minutes
Isolation Trail - Davis Path1 hour2 hours 30 minutes
Davis Path - Isolation Spur30 minutes3 hours
Isolation Spur - Mt. Isolation Summit2 minutes3 hours 2 minutes
Mt. Isolation Summit - Parking2 hours 30 minutes5 hours 32 minutes


NOTES / COMMENTS:
At 4004 feet Mt. Isolation barely makes the list of NH 4000 footers falling at #47. The 6+ mile one way distance deep into the Presidential Range - Dry River Wilderness makes it a very intimidating mountain to plan for and is typically one of the last mountains hikers complete. It's open summit offer some of the most amazing views in the White Mountains and is definitely worth visiting.

** My 5.5 hour hiking time is extremely quick and not typical. Plan for 7 to 8 hours.

A sign marking the junction of the Mt. Isolation spur trail and Davis Path.
 
The weather didn't cooperate and I had very limited views from the open summit.

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