Tuesday, March 28, 2017

West Peak (3580 Ft.), Castle Mountain (3569 Ft.)

West Peak summit canister
STATE: New Hampshire
TOWN: Columbia
DESTINATION: West Peak, Castle Mountain
ELEVATION: 3580 Feet, 3569 Feet
SUMMIT COORDINATES: West Peak - N44 45.262, W71 29.754
SUMMIT COORDINATES: Castle Mountain - N44 45.580, W71 28.761
TRAIL: Brown Road, Corridor 7, logging road, bushwhack
DISTANCE: 9.4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 2370 Feet
HIKING TIME: 5 hours 15 minutes
SEASON: Early spring (winter conditions)
DATE: March 25, 2017
WEATHER: Cold, clear, 20 degrees

PARKING: From the junction of route 3 and VT 105 follow Rt. 3 for 3 miles. Look for the diamond shaped sign marking Meriden Hill Road on the right (GPS Coordinates N44 46.771, W71 34.995). Follow Meriden Hill road for 1.8 miles to the junction of Brown Road (N44 47.052, W71 33.264). Turn right on Brown road and follow it 1.5 miles to a Y junction (N44 46.349, W71 32.076). Stay to the right and follow Brown Rd to its end.

In winter Brown Road, may or may not be plowed. In March, 2017 The road was plowed with enough width for a single car for 0.8 miles. I found a small parking area with room for 2-3 cars at N44 46.444, W71 32.813. Brown road becomes a snowmobile corridor requiring a 1.75-mile road walk to the T junction, field and camps at the terminus of Brown road. Just before reaching the camps the road is marked with a private property sign. I didn’t encounter a no trespassing sign and continued the few hundred feet into the property to ask permission.

Drive time from Manchester was 3 hours 15 minutes.

USGS QUAD: USGS Bunnell Mountain Quad

MAP: (West Peak), (Castle)




DESCRIPTION: Walk Brown road to the camps and open field.Continue east on the unnamed road for 0.15 miles, passing a couple camps to the T junction with snowmobile corridor 7 (not marked). Follow corridor 7 as it turns south for a total of 0.25 miles to the gates. Turn left and follow the unmarked logging road east for 0.9 miles to a recently logged open area at approximately 2400 feet elevation.Find an open line and begin to bushwhack southeast for one mile through the open slash. As the slash ends, the woods become steeper and thicker.I encountered a few moderately thick bands that lasted 50-100 feet but would open as you skirted through. A minor thick section guarded the summit and I found the register on the southern point of the summit. Take a few steps behind the register to the blowdown patch for great views of the Percy peaks, the Cabot range and Mt. Washington massif.

From West peak, Castle is 1.0 miles to the east. Bushwhack into the col starting off with a short, thick band of Christmas tree spruce that opened as I skirted to the northern side of the col. Once passing through the scrappy section the woods beautifully opened into the col and continued to be clear and open all the way to Castle. I went to what appeared to be the distinct high point and was unable to locate a canister. I continued along the ridge passing a moderate bump to a secondary summit. This location appeared to be a slightly lower elevation than the original bump I stood on. I returned to the original bump and performed a more thorough search for a canister without any luck. I was able to find a 9” diameter spruce with three pieces of orange flagging which I considered the summit of Castle.

I followed my footsteps for 0.5 mile back to the col and descended towards the logging road. The descent was steep and thicker woods pulled me in the direction of Hymmel brook. I entered the thicker bands looking for openings along the contour wanting to avoid descending towards the brook and struggled through thick spruce, snow traps and steep terrain for approximately 0.5 miles until I hit the open logging slash and clear sailing back to the logging road very close to my start point.Even with the cold weather and steep terrain, this was one of the easier bushwhacks I’ve performed. Google Earth doesn’t show recent logging and I was surprised by how open the woods were.

TRAIL DISTANCES:

HIKING DISTANCES
DESTINATION
DISTANCE TOTAL DIST.
Brown Road Parking - Camps and field 1.7 miles 1.7 miles
Camps and field - Gate 0.35 miles 2.05 miles
Gate - start of bushwhack 0.95 miles 3.0 miles
Start of bushwhack - West Peak 0.9 miles 3.9 miles
West Peak - Castle Mountain 1.0 miles 4.9 miles
Castle Mountain - End of bushwhack 1.5 miles 6.4 miles
End of bushwhack - Brown Road parking 3.0 miles 9.4 miles

HIKING TIMES:

HIKING TIMES
DESTINATION
TIME TOTAL TIME
Brown Road Parking - Camps and field 45 minutes 40 minutes
Camps and field - Gate 5 minutes 45 minutes
Gate - start of bushwhack 15 minutes 1 hour
Start of bushwhack - West Peak 1 hour 30 minutes 2 hours 30 minutes
West Peak - Castle Mountain 1 hour 3 hours 30 minutes
Castle Mountain - End of bushwhack 45 minutes 4 hours 15 minutes
End of bushwhack - Brown Road parking 1 hour 5 hours 15 minutes

NOTES / COMMENTS:

At just under 3600 feet, West Peak (3580 Feet) is ranked  #91 on the list of New Hampshire 100 highest mountains (depending on which list you are looking at). Castle Mountain (3569 Feet) is an unranked peak on the three variations of the NH 100 highest lists I refer to although it is on the Peakbagger list of NH 3500 footers. West Mountain had a PVC canister at it's summit and offered excellent directional views to the South of the Percy Peaks, Mt. Cabot and Mt. Washington.

Castle Mountain is less than a mile away through beautifully open woods containing mostly obscured directional views.  The summit did not have a distinct bump and I wandered the summit proper and what appeared to be two or three potential highest points unable to find a canister. I did encounter a 9" diameter spruce with three pieces of orange flagging tape a few feet away from what I considered the highest point. There were no views from the Castle Summit.

Gate at the end of Brown road, Snowmobile Corridor 7

West Peak Summit canister

Percy Peaks, Cabot range and snow covered Mt. Washington from West Peak

Spruce with three orange flags marking the summit of Castle Mountain



Monday, March 13, 2017

Sentinel Mtn - (1680 Ft.), Mt. Flagg - (2390 Ft.)

Mt. Shaw and the Ossipee Range
STATE: New Hampshire
TOWN: Ossipee
DESTINATION: Sentinel Mountain, Mt. Flagg
ELEVATION: 1680 Ft, 2390 Ft
SUMMIT COORDINATES: Sentinel Mtn - N43 44.196, W71 13.524
SUMMIT COORDINATES: Mt. Flagg - N43 44.196, W71 13.524
TRAIL: Sentinel Mountain Trail, Sentinel Connector Trail, Canaan Mountain Trail, Mt. Flagg Trail.
DISTANCE: 5.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 1750 Ft.
HIKING TIME: 3 hours 30 minutes
SEASON: Winter
DATE: March 12, 2017
WEATHER: single digit temperatures with wind. Cold and clear.

PARKING: From Route 16 N (White Mountain Highway) turn left onto route 16 B. Follow 16B for 0.55 miles to Main St. Turn Left onto Main St following it 0.65 miles to the small village of Center Ossipee where Main St turns into Moultonborough Rd. Follow Moultonborough Rd for 1.5 miles turning right onto Valley Rd. Soon Valley Rd transitions from asphalt to gravel reaching the junction with Bents Rd after 1.8 miles. Turn right onto Bents Rd for 0.4 miles to a small pull off at N43 44.500, W71 12.830. The parking area is NOT marked and does not have a trail kiosk or map. Look for the gate with "No Motorized Vehicles" sign. There is room for 2-3 strategically placed cars in the pull off. Roadside parking is also available.

Approximately 2 hours from Manchester

USGS QUAD: USGS Tuftonborough Quad

MAP: (Sentinel Mountain), (Mt. Flagg)

A detailed map of the entire Ossipee Mountain range can be found here


DESCRIPTION:

Pass through the gate then bear left at the vague "Mt. Trail" sign. The Sentinel Mountain trail follows an ATV trail for approximately 0.5 miles then crosses a logging road where it transforms to a single track. Look for the "Mt. Trail" signs. There was a few inches of snow on the ground and the tree blazes were marked with a fading maroon color making them difficult to pick out at several places as you are led through mostly open hardwood forest soon reaching a very steep pitch to the Sentinel summit ledges. The summit offers great views over Dan Hole Pond to Gunstock Mountain and the Belknap range. The Canaan, Flagg, Shaw ridge can be seen to the northwest.

Continuing Northwest the trail name changes to the Sentinel Connector trail (there are no signs) for the next 0.43 miles. It drops steeply off the Sentinel Mountain ledges then gradually inclines through mostly open woods. The trail heads west and follows a contour line to the Merrovista Ledges and small log cabin at N 43° 44.126 W 071° 14.015. Look for maroon paint and take the Canaan Mtn trail (unmarked) to the north northwest continuing through open woods. I found it difficult to follow with the snow and poorly visible maroon paint. The trail ups and downs for approximately 0.75 miles then drops 100 feet and bears west to another cabin and the junction of the Mt. Flagg trail. The blazes become yellow as the trial gets technical following a rocky dry riverbed reaching the col between Canaan Mountain and Mt. Flagg. The trail peeks through some open ledges giving great directional views soon reaching the open sub-summit of Mt. Flagg which offers great views. The actual summit is the next hump a few hundred feet away.

Return the way you came.

TRAIL DISTANCES:

HIKING DISTANCES
DESTINATION
DISTANCE TOTAL DIST.
Parking - Sentinel Mtn. 0.85 miles 0.85 miles
Sentinel Mtn Connector - Canaan Mtn Trail Jct. 0.43 miles 1.28 miles
Canaan Mtn Trail - Mt. Flagg Trail Jct. 0.81 miles 2.09 miles
Mt. Flagg Trail Jct. - Mt. Flagg Summit 0.71 miles 2.80 miles
Mt. Flagg Summit - Parking 2.80 miles 5.60 miles

HIKING TIMES:

HIKING TIMES
DESTINATION
TIME TOTAL TIME
Parking - Sentinel Mtn. 30 minutes 30 minutes
Sentinel Mtn Connector - Canaan Mtn Trail Jct. 15 minutes 45 minutes
Canaan Mtn Trail - Mt. Flagg Trail Jct. 45 minutes 1 hour 30 minutes
Mt. Flagg Trail Jct. - Mt. Flagg Summit 45 minutes 2 hours 15 minutes
Parking - Sentinel Mtn. 1 hour 15 minutes 3 hours 30 minutes

NOTES / COMMENTS:

My hiking boots have been collecting dust for several months and a trip to the Ossipee's was the perfect solution for a quality hike with spectacular views for little effort. Both summits offer views to the Gunstock Mountain ski area and with a pair of binoculars you can see the fire tower on Belknap mountain. Green Mountain and it's fire tower is directly to the east and Mt. Shaw is looming to the northwest. The neat log cabins along the way added some trail excitement. Both Sentinel Mountain and Mt. Flagg are on the 'Ossipee 10' peakbagger list.

Dan Hole Pond and the Belknap Range from the Sentinel Mtn. summit

Mt. Shaw from Mt. Flagg

Merrovista Ledges cabin