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



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