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.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Middle and North Sugarloaf - 6/3/09

I was still a little tired from the hike up Mt. Carrigain the previous day, so I wanted to do something on the shorter side. I had always heard good things about the Sugarloaves. While that awkward name is given to a surprising many peaks in our neck of the woods, I speak of the two ledgy peaks just off Zealand Road near Twin Mountain. These are quite easily seen from Rt. 302 while heading toward Crawford Notch.

North (L, fore) and Middle (R, just behind it) Sugarloaf, seen from Rt. 302

I parked my car, shouldered my pack (always prepared, no matter how short the hike), and set off on the Sugarloaf Trail. It was a gorgeous day and the walk up was quite nice and never got too steep. It’s easy to see why these little peaks are popular so with people of all ages. Just under a mile from the trailhead I arrived at the junction of the trails to the two peaks.

Junction in Sugarloaf trail

I opted to go out to the higher peak, being Middle Sugarloaf, first as this would get most of the hike’s climbing done early and the rest of the trip would be an easy stroll. This was also supposed to be the best view too. A short-but-lovely half-mile later I clambered up to the summit ledges and was taken aback by the expansive views. A great perspective of the Presidentials was the highlight of this trip for me.

View from Middle Sugarloaf

After a quick lunch on the sun-soaked rocks I set off for North Sugarloaf. In no time I was back at the trail junction and on my way down the North spur. This was also rather easy walking and I arrived this set of ledges shortly thereafter. The views from this peak are lesser, but also stunning and would make a good destination by themselves for a shorter hike. I still give preference to it’s higher Middle neighbor, which rates highly on my list of best bang-for-your-buck peaks.

Enjoying the views from one of the ledges of North Sugarloaf

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mt. Carrigain - 6/2/09

Mt. Carrigain is one of the most revered of all White Mountain viewpoints. From atop the observation tower at it’s summit, 43 of the other 47 4000 footers can be picked out, according to guidebook author/hiker extraordinaire Steve Smith. This is the most seen from any peak (tied with Mt. Washington). It's also a great landmark, it's triple-humped mass is easy to pick out from countless other places. The first time I climbed this particular peak I was accompanied by my friend Samantha, and we - against better judgment - chose a rainy day to tackle it. We enjoyed the hike, but were deprived of any views at all. This had to be set straight.

Mt. Carrigain (seen from Webster Cliffs)

Sam agreed to come along for a return trip, this time on a much better day. She brought her friend Kevin along and the three of us made our way to the trailhead for the Signal Ridge Trail on Sawyer River Road in Bartlett. Once on the trail, the first 2 mile are a nice easy warm-up. This fairly flat section has a few brook crossings (which may be varying degrees of difficult in higher water) and passes by a small, but scenic, beaver pond.

Along the Signal Ridge Trail

Once the trail starts to climb, it never lets up. While not being overly steep, it’s uphill all the way until you emerge on Signal Ridge. We trudged upward and onward. Once we hit the ridge, it was as if new life was breathed into me. The views from Signal Ridge alone rival most in the Whites, with Carrigain Notch right at your finger tips. The summit tower is directly ahead, a short climb still awaits.

View of the summit from Signal Ridge

We made the short hike up past the site of former cabin and up to the summit clearing. Ascending to the stairs to the observation platform an endless view in all directions smacks you right in the face. Your eyes don’t know which way to look first. Most of the peaks one typically looks for can be seen from here. The Franconia Ridge is easily picked, as is my personal favorite peak to identify - Bondcliff, and it’s brothers, and of course Mt. Washington and the Presidentials are spotted as well as other popular spots like Mt. Chocorua and so on and so on. A camera has never seemed so inadequate.

Northerly view from sumit

I’m really glad we made the trip back out here on a great day. The view is most certainly worthy of all it’s praise, and while I still can’t call any one view my absolute favorite, this one has to be at the top of the list.

Southeasterly view from summit

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Arethusa Falls - 5/27/09

It was raining when I got up in the morning, but I had already concocted a contingency plan. What better time to visit a waterfall than when the water will be at higher levels? I decided on Arethusa Falls, the largest single-drop waterfall (though this is disputed, but that‘s another story) in New Hampshire. It lies at the Southern tip of Crawford Notch on Bemis Brook, perched at an elevation of 2,000 feet and a 1.3 mile hike from Route 302.

Bemis Falls

On nicer days this is a popular hike for families and tourists as well as locals, as it doesn’t gain much elevation. Today it was a much quieter scene, however. I walked along, dodging wet branches here and there. Not long after starting I reached the spot where the Bemis Brook Trail broke off from the main trail. This adds a little length and a little more climbing to the hike, but it also offers a few more waterfalls. I had never been out here so I decided to take in all the sights I could.

This trail drops down and you walk along Bemis Brook, there are three spots to check out along this path; the Fawn Pool, Bemis Falls, and Coliseum Falls. I found Coliseum Falls most interesting of these and the extra effort was more than worth it.

Coliseum Falls

Shortly I rejoined the main trail and was back on track, arriving at the main waterfall about twenty minutes later. It was an impressive sight. I was glad I had come on a day when the water was higher. I crossed the brook to get a better look and snap a few pictures before returning to the car, continuing past the Bemis Brook Trail on the way down.

Arethusa Falls

Black Mountain - 5/26/09

My friend Mark and I decided to get together for a hike. Neither of us had anything particular in mind, but I had a few places I had been wanting to get out to. We decided on the ledgy little peak of Black Mountain. Despite the ominous name, it’s actually a nice place to spend some time.

Mark takes in the sights

We set off in the morning for Chippewa trail, on the mountain’s West side. This is the steeper of the two approaches to this peak, but it’s rather short at 1.8 miles (3.6 round trip) and climbs through a gorgeous red pine forest. It is also the more scenic of the two trails, passing some ledges with great views to neighboring Sugarloaf Mountain and out to the Southwest, over the town of Haverhill and beyond.

View from the first ledge (click to enlarge)

We took our time on the way up, lingering to take pictures of the various flowers in bloom, including many Pink Lady’s Slippers.

Pink Lady's Slipper

After the leisurely climb, we arrived at the former site of the fire tower on the line of ledges making up the summit. Making our way over this series of scenic ledges we emerged on the Northeastern end of the ledges offering a wide view of Moosilauke, Kinsman Ridge, Cannon, Franconia Ridge, and much farther.

View from the summit

Here we took a long break, passing the binoculars back and forth, picking out cairns on Moosilauke from miles away and interesting boulders on the Kinsmans. After gobbling a sandwich and attempting to budge the large boulder once known as the Tipping Rock, we set off on the return trip back to the car.