Here I will share my travels throughout the majestic White Mountains of NH and also delve into some of the area's rich history and forgotten places. I do this in hopes of getting others excited about exploring these wonderful places.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Whaleback Mountain - 5/19/09

Whaleback has been calling me for quite some time. Driving into Lincoln from North Woodstock it can plainly be seen to the right of Big Coolidge, and I glance up to it each and every day. The first things that catch the eye about it are the massive ledges that adorn the Southeast side of the peak. Today was the day to finally answer the call.

View of Whaleback from Lincoln

Part of the mystique of Whaleback to me is the fact that it is no longer traversed by any “officially” maintained trails. The AMC’s original Osseo Trail used to go over this summit on the way to Mt. Flume, but the trail had to be rerouted in 1983 due to the building of the Clearbrook condos. The new Osseo Trail branches off of the Lincoln Woods Trail and does not traverse the summit of Whaleback anymore. However the trail abandoned trail is lightly maintained by some of the condo owners, and is fairly easily followed.

This section was like a normal trail

After about a mile’s walk, a small campsite with a simple shelter appears on the left side of the trail, right next to a crossing of Clearbrook. After carefully crossing the brook on a fallen tree I rejoined the trail. From the campsite on the trail becomes slightly more overgrown and a little more difficult to discern. There are, however, some blazes along the way.

Nice stream-side camp site

Toward the middle of the hike the trail actually becomes a stream for short distances, with large volumes of water moving along the path and dry-looking pits of boot-sucking mud before and after these sections. It is during this part that the trail must carefully be followed, as I found out by quickly losing it altogether. Once back on track the trail began to get quite a bit steeper climbing through a series of switchbacks. On one of these corners I was surprised to find an old AMC sign still bolted to one of the trees.

Old AMC sign

On another of these corners is a short side path to a rather dramatic ledge, that is actually quite dangerous. You can’t walk far out on this sheer rock face but it offers an interesting, sweeping view of Loon Mountain, Scar Ridge, the peaks of Mt. Osceola, the Tripyramids, and further beyond.

View toward Loon and the Osceolas and Tripyramids

After I was on the way again it wasn’t too long before I came to another old sign and another side path. This time to the view I had been awaiting the most. The opposite of the view I get of it every day. This a sunny little clearing with a great view including Mt. Liberty, and across to other ledges also on Whaleback and the backside of Big Coolidge (the other mountain calling my name). The Kinsmans, Indian Head, Mt. Wolf, Moosilauke and the towns of Lincoln and North Woodstock can all be seen from here as well.

View to Kinsman Ridge, Moosilauke and town of Lincoln; Mt. Liberty poking up at far right

This view point isn’t too far from the summit and shortly I arrived there. The only thing that marks the wooded summit is a single spruce tree in the center of a small clearing. This clearing also has a side path to another view back to Scar Ridge, etc. I dropped my pack here and enjoyed a nice lunch in solitude, accompanied only by some hyperactive songbirds.

Tree marking the wooded summit

After lunch I walked a short walk past the summit on the trail and then bushwhacked out to a small clearing that offered the surprise view that turned out to be the best of the day. This view looked Northeast and immediately recognizable was Mt. Washington and to the right of that was the majestic trio of the Bonds. I always love a view to these peaks in particular.

Great surprise view

After this it was time to head out, back over the same trail which actually seemed harder to follow in the downward direction at times. Shortly after an hour later I was back at my car and anxious to get a look back to the top of it.


  1. Alex,

    Great report! Whaleback is quite the wild peak, right in our backyard. Haven't been up there in a few years - it's about time to return. Nice find on that Bonds view. A neat bushwhack you can do off the lower part of old Osseo is up to the gravelly slide on the east side of Big Coolidge. Never been to the top of Big C., it's reported to be pretty gnarly.


  2. Thanks Steve! It was a great hike and the Bonds view was a great way to cap it off!

    I've actually been planning to do exactly what you mention on Big Coolidge and then work my down to those ledges facing town. The backside sure looked pretty rugged from where I saw it on Whaleback.

  3. Alex - I bought one of the Clearbrook condo's 2 years ago and have wanted to do the hike you describe ever since (actually I want to follow it to the peak of Mt. Flume). Is the trail head the one located high up in the Clearbrook development? Do you know what the trail is like between the summit of whaleback and Mt. Flume?


  4. Ted,
    Shoot me an e-mail and I'd be more than happy to give you some more info on the trail location. I even have a GPS track of the hike if that would be of any help. My e-mail address is AClogston@gmail.com

    I have heard that the section of trail from the summit of Whaleback to the relocated Osseo Trail is quite thick with blowdowns and gets difficult to follow. I have never been on it except for a few hundred yards past the summit, so I can't say myself how bad it is.

    Thanks for the comment and thanks for reading!