Sunday, November 16, 2014

Merrimack NH Highpoint (Unnamed) - 512 Ft

STATE: New Hampshire
TOWN: Merrimack
DESTINATION: Merrimack Town Highpoint
ELEVATION: 512 Ft
SUMMIT COORDINATES: N42 51.863, W71 33.186
TRAIL: Gateway Trail, Ridge Trail, bushwhack
DISTANCE: 1.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 250 Ft.
HIKING TIME: 40 minutes
SEASON: Summer
DATE: September 28, 2014
WEATHER: Sunny, warm

PARKING: Parking can be fount at the playing fields behind Merrimack Middle School off Madeline Bennett Drive.

USGS QUAD: USGS South Merrimack Quad

MAP: (Merrimack HighPoint)




DESCRIPTION:

Drive past the entrance to Merrimack Middle School and park at the lot providing access to the soccer fields.  The gravel access road called the Gateway Trail  makes a S pattern and continues 0.45 miles to the Ridge Trail entrance. The Ridge Trail is marked with a vertical sign post on the left. After 0.04 miles the ridge trail exits left and a path continues straight. Drop and cross the culvert continuing on this unparked trail 0.11 miles to a 'end of trail' sign and rocks blocking passage of wheeled vehicles. Continue walking another 0.2 miles to a trail merge. Bear right and begin your gradual ascent. After 0.55 miles you reach the height of land and the true summit is a few hundred feet to the left. The summit was marked with a glass jar and small log book. Most registries were accidental finds by local hunters.

TRAIL DISTANCES:

HIKING DISTANCES
DESTINATION
DISTANCE TOTAL DIST.
Gateway Trail - Ridge Trail 0.35 Mi 0.35 Mi
Ridge Trail - End of Ridge Trail 0.1 Mi 0.45 Mi
End of Ridge Trail - Summit 0.45 Mi 0.90 Mi
Summit - Parking 0.90 Mi 1.8 Mi


HIKING TIMES:

HIKING TIMES
DESTINATION
TIME TOTAL TIME
Gateway Trail - Ridge Trail 10 min 10 min
Ridge Trail - End of Ridge Trail 2 min 12 min
End of Ridge Trail - Summit 8 min 20 min
Summit - Parking 18 min 30 min

NOTES / COMMENTS:

After examining Google Earth and topo maps, I expected to bushwhack approximately 0.4 miles.  It was a pleasant surprise to find such a well defined trail system leading a few hundred feet from the summit. Coming from the height of land you'll need to bushwhack a few hundred feet over a false summit to the true summit marked with a small cairn. I was extremely surprised to find a canister jar at the summit.  The entries were all from local hunters who stumbled upon the HP. I didn't see any hiking names or reports from people intentionally trying to find the high point.

The Gateway and Ridge Trail junction. 
Merrimack NH Highpoint



Monday, November 25, 2013

Pliny Mountain - 3605 Ft

STATE:New Hampshire
TOWN: Kilkenny
DESTINATION: Pliny Mountain
ELEVATION: 3605 Ft
SUMMIT COORDINATES:44 25.018, W71 23.577
TRAIL: Abandoned Priscilla Brook Trail, Bushwhack
DISTANCE: 5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 1870 feet
HIKING TIME: 3 hours
SEASON: Fall
DATE: November 24, 2013
WEATHER: 15 degrees, light snow, windy

PARKING:

From the Route 115 and Route 2 intersection follow route 2 north for .4 miles. Directly opposite Six Gun City turn right on Ingerson Road. At 1.0 miles bear left at the intersection with Pond of Safety Rd continuing another 1.3 miles to the unmarked Priscilla Brook Trailhead on your right just before the single lane bridge crossing of Priscilla Brook. There is a small pull off capable of squeezing 2 cars and roadside parking is available.

USGS QUAD: USGS Jefferson Quad

MAP: (Pliny Mountain)



DESCRIPTION:

The Priscilla Brook trail is no longer maintained and it's condition is extremely poor. The first mile of trail follows the right bank of Priscilla Brook and drainage makes it extremely muddy in places, runoff has caused additional erosion. 2-3 inches of snow prevented me from seeing several pockets of mud before placing my boot down sinking ankle deep in a few places. The trail is full of blowdowns which get progressively worse as you increase elevation. As the trail breaks right separating from the river it is a jumbled mess of downed trees combined with hidden mud pockets. I intended to follow the Priscilla Brook trail to the height of land then bear South to the Pliny summit however the trail was extremely difficult to navigate walking the tightrope of downed trees and attempting to avoid the wet mushy trail. I found it easier to depart the trail and indirectly bushwhack towards the Pliny summit. I set a bearing in a northwesterly direction bushwhacking through 4-5 inches of powder in mostly open woods then turning south with about 0.3 to the summit. The woods contained random blowdowns to hop over but were primarily open making this an easy bushwhack. The summit is marked with a PVC canister and most recently entry was from Wayne R on 8/25/2013


TRAIL DISTANCES:

HIKING DISTANCES
DESTINATION
DISTANCE TOTAL DIST.
Priscilla Brook Trail - start of bushwhack 1.5 miles 1.5 miles
bushwhack - Pliny summit 1.0 miles 2.5 miles

HIKING TIMES:

HIKING TIMES
DESTINATION
TIME TOTAL TIME
Priscilla Brook Trail - start of bushwhack 45 minutes 45 minutes
bushwhack - Pliny summit 1 hour1 hour 45 minutes
Pliny summit - parking1 hour 15 minutes3 hours

NOTES / COMMENTS:

I planned on hiking a different mountain today however my late start, last nights 3-4 inches of snow along with the excessive wind and raw conditions caused an impromptu change of plans. As I passed through snowy Franconia Notch I considered mount Martha but was looking forward to a bushwhack. After perusing my DeLorme the nearby Pliny Mountain called my name due to it's short whack, limited views at the summit and a great hill to test my bushwhacking ability and start off the winter hiking season. At 3605 feet it's ranked 87th on the list of New Hampshire 100 highest. I didn't take a lot of photos on this hike for a couple of reasons, the cold temperatures and there weren't a lot of photographic opportunities.

Priscilla Brook trailhead on Ingerson road

 The open woods bushwhack

The Pliny mountain summit canister


Monday, November 11, 2013

Shelburne Moriah - 3735 Ft

Shelburne Moriah from the Kenduskeag Trail
STATE: New Hampshire
TOWN: Shelburne
DESTINATION: Mt. Shelburne Moriah
ELEVATION: 3735 Ft
SUMMIT COORDINATES: N44 21.186, W71 05.928
TRAIL: Rattle River Trail (AT), Kenduskeag Trail
DISTANCE: 10.2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 2975 Ft
HIKING TIME: 4 hours 15 minutes
SEASON: Fall
DATE: November 9, 2013
WEATHER: 40 degrees, windy, partly cloudy

PARKING: Parking for 8 to 10 cars can be found on Route 2. 3.5 miles East from the intersection with Route 16 South.

USGS QUAD: USGS Wild River Quad

MAP: (Shelburne Moriah)


DESCRIPTION:

The Rattle River Trail is a 4.2 mile section of the Appalachian trail which travels from Maine to Georgia and is a wide and well trodden trail that begins on a light grade paralleling Rattle River to your right. The river offers several pit stop pools tempting me to dip my toes even in the cool crisp weather conditions. In a short distance you'll cross a tributary entering the Rattle River and continue along a light grade 1.6 miles to the Rattle River Shelter. The shelter is a typical AT shelter with trail names carved into the wooden walls, fire pit, tent platforms and an outhouse a short distance away. Continuing past the shelter the trail crosses then re-crosses the Rattle River before transitioning into a moderate rock step ascent. After approximately 1 mile the trail crosses Rattle River a final time and ascends steeply over rock steps. There were several sections requiring care where black ice covered some of the path. You reach a short section of footbridges leading into the col between Middle Moriah and Shelburne Moriah. Turn left onto the Kenduskeag Trail following additional foot bridges soon popping out onto an open rock face and you are presented with excellent views of the Carter Range and the rocky northern Presidentials in the background. The Kenduskeag trail is overgrown in several sections as it dips in and out of the tree line presenting better and better views before reaching a medium sized cairn at the summit of Shelburne Moriah. The summit is mostly open and offers spectacular views in nearly all directions. A 100 foot spur path leads to a rocky outcrop with excellent views to the east and south.

Overall the trail was a bit muddy in the lower sections and contained a few blowdowns to avoid however was well maintained and easy to navigate to the ridge. All river crossings can be navigated with strategic rock hopping. The Kenduskeag trail was overgrown and in need of maintenance but easy to follow to the Shelburne Moriah Summit.

TRAIL DISTANCES:

HIKING DISTANCES
DESTINATION
DISTANCE TOTAL DIST.
Parking - Rattle River Shelter 1.6 miles 1.6 miles
Rattle River Shelter - Kenduskeag Trail junction 2.6 miles 4.2 miles
Kenduskeag Trail junction - Shelburne Moriah summit 0.9 miles 5.1 miles
Shelburne Moriah Summit - Kenduskeag Trail junction 0.9 miles 6.0 miles
Kenduskeag Trail junction - parking 4.2 miles 10.2 miles

HIKING TIMES:

HIKING TIMES
DESTINATION
TIME TOTAL TIME
Parking - Rattle River Shelter 30 minutes 30 minutes
Rattle River Shelter - Kenduskeag Trail junction 1 hour 15 minutes 1 hour 45 minutes
Kenduskeag Trail junction - Shelburne Moriah summit 30 minutes 2 hours 15 minutes
Shelburne Moriah Summit - Kenduskeag Trail junction 30 minutes 2 hours 45 minutes
Kenduskeag Trail junction - parking 90 minutes 4 hours 15 minutes

NOTES / COMMENTS:

Mt. Shelburne Moriah is a little peak with a big punch. At 3735 feet it is not tall enough to qualify on the primary lists of 4000 footers and is shy of making the New England 100 highest list however, it does qualify for the New Hampshire 100 highest at #64. Shelburne Moriah is ranked #5 on the NH 52 With A View list and #69 on the YMCA alpine Club list. Regardless of list, it is a worthy peak to visit and it's expansive panoramic views will not disappoint.

 A USFS sign marking the Rattle River trailhead
 
The Rattle River Shelter
 
A series of wooden bridges on the upper section of the Rattle River trail 
 
 The Shelburne Moriah summit cairn

 Middle Moriah (foreground) and Mt. Moriah (background)

View of the Carter-Moriah range
 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Bunnell Mountain, North Blue Mountain

Snow covered spruce on Bunnell Mtn.
STATE: New Hampshire
TOWN: Columbia
DESTINATION: North Blue Mountain / Bunnell Mountain
ELEVATION: 3190 Ft. / 3730 Ft.
N BLUE SUMMIT COORDINATES: N44 49.219, W71 29.548
BUNNELL SUMMIT COORDINATES:N44 47.482, W71 28.716
TRAIL: Washburn Rd, Unnamed trail
DISTANCE: 11.67 Miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 2740 Ft.
HIKING TIME: 4 hours 10 minutes
SEASON: Fall
DATE: October 26, 2012
WEATHER: 30 Degrees, Snow showers, light wind

PARKING: From Route 3 in Columbia turn right at the Irving gas station onto the one lane Washburn Rd. Continue 1.5 miles and park at the gate.

USGS QUAD: Bunnell Mountain Quad

MAP: (North Blue) (Bunnell)


DESCRIPTION:

I didn't expect to find Washburn Rd gated at 1.5 miles and had hoped to park 2 miles deeper east. I cursed my poor planning. The gate caused me an unexpected 4+ miles of road walk. The very cool temperatures and trace snow falling caused me to pick up my pace and I was sweating when I reached Cleveland Notch hiking 3.25 miles in just over 60 minutes. I planned to make the short out and back to North Blue returning to Cleveland Notch then traverse the ridge south to Bunnell continuing west attempting West Blue (and possible Mt. Pleasant). At the height of land in Cleveland Notch I found a 4x4 trail and followed it North towards North Blue. The trail petered out at a section of hobblebrush however I was able to pick up a single track trail in approximately 100 ft. It was my only bushwhacking the entire day. The unmarked trail headed through open woods directly to the N. Blue summit. The N. Blue summit is marked with a PVC canister with the last entry by K-Dawg and Julie on 8/10/13. I signed in chuckled at a cartoon and returned to Cleveland Notch. My spirits were high after finding the unexpected trail to North Blue and my good karma continued as I followed the unmarked trail south. The trail was in great condition with easy grades, moderate ascents and minimal overgrowth. I encountered my first moose antler at ~3300 feet and considered taking it home however it was much heavier than I expected so I left it for another hiker (or rodents). The Bunnell summit canister was easy to spot at the highest point and I was very surprised to find fresh footprints in the snow and a register entry by Wayne R. earlier this morning. I was getting chilled from the unexpected snow and decided to skip West Blue leaving a NH3k dangler for another day. I followed my footprints 1.2 miles to a clearing then followed a logging road 1.4 miles back to Washburn road, only 2.6 miles back to the car.

TRAIL DISTANCES:

HIKING DISTANCES
DESTINATION
DISTANCE TOTAL DIST.
Parking - Cleveland Notch 3.25 miles 3.25 miles
Cleveland Notch - North Blue Mountain 0.63 miles 3.88 miles
North Blue - Cleveland Notch 0.63 miles 4.50 miles
Cleveland Notch - Bunnell Mountain 2.0 miles 6.50 miles
Bunnell Mountain - Parking 5.17 miles 11.67 miles

HIKING TIMES:

HIKING TIMES
DESTINATION
TIME TOTAL TIME
Parking - Cleveland Notch 60 minutes 60 minutes
Cleveland Notch - North Blue Mountain 25 minutes 1 hour 25 minutes
North Blue - Cleveland Notch 20 minutes 1 hour 45 minutes
Cleveland Notch - Bunnell Mountain 45 minutes 2 hours 30 minutes
Bunnell Mountain - Parking 1 hour 40 minutes 4 hours 10 minutes

NOTES / COMMENTS:

Washburn Rd wasn't shown on my GPS topo maps and was a challenge to find. From initial appearance the road didn't look like it traveled deep into the woods and took me a few drive-by's before believing it was the correct road. Finding Washburn road gated after 1.5 miles requiring a long gravel logging road walk really dampened my spirits. I was pretty hot and sweaty after hiking the 3.25 miles in just over 60 minutes and cursed myself for overheating in a snow squall and the frigid temps.

3723 foot Bunnell Mountain is the highest mountain north of the White Mountain National Forest. It was originally known as Blue Mountain but renamed in 1998 in memory of former Colebrook selectman and part-time judge Vickie Bunnell, who was killed in August 1997. Vickie Bunnell often climbed the mountain in her spare time. More information about the Bunnell Legacy tract can be found here: Bunnell Legacy Tract.

 The gate on Washburn Rd.

 North Blue Mountain

 "Bushwhacking" to Bunnell Mountain

 Moose antler on Bunnell Mtn.

Bunnell Mountain (formerly Blue Mtn.) summit.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mt. Snow (Cupsuptic) - 3784 feet

The PVC canister on the Mt. Snow Summit.
STATE: Maine
TOWN: Cupsuptic
DESTINATION: Snow (Cupsuptic)
ELEVATION: 3784 feet
SUMMIT COORDINATES: N45 10.157, W70 49.607
TRAIL: Logging road, bushwhack
DISTANCE: 3.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 1080 feet
HIKING TIME: 1 hour 45 minutes
SEASON: fall
DATE: October 16, 2010
WEATHER: Cool temperatures, overcast skies, fog

PARKING:

From ME 16 west of Rangeley turn onto the graded gravel Morton Cutoff and follow it 3.2 miles to it's intersection with Tim Pond Road. Turn right then bear left onto Burnt Mountain road following it 1.6 miles to a sharp left turn to skirt the base of Burnt Mountain following it a total of 5 miles. At the intersection bear right for 1.2 miles and bearing left at the Y intersection for a total of 3.25 miles to Cupsuptic Tote road. At 1.3 miles continue right and 0.2 miles later bear left driving 2.5 miles to a small parking area just before a logging clear cut area. Refer to the driving map below.


USGS QUAD: USGS Little Kennebago Lake Quad

MAP: (Snow - Cupsuptic)



DESCRIPTION:

The most challenging aspect of this hike is finding the correct route though the maze of unnamed logging roads to access this peak. Mt. Snow is often hiked from the North due to easier navigational access from Wiggle Brook Road. My ascent (shown in red on the map) from the south made for a shorter hike but a much longer driving time. Follow parking directions above to approximately 2700 feet elevation then continue on foot, walking the logging road approximately 1.0 miles to 3100 feet elevation. Find a suitable entry point to begin your bushwhack in the relatively open woods heading almost due north.  During the ascent I hoped to find a herd path as I increased elevation however ended up in a band of relatively thick 5-10 foot tall spruce trees between 3400 and 3600 feet elevation. I needed to skirt east to avoid heavy bushwhacking. Once I broke through the spruce trees the woods opened up and last few hundred feet of elevation was smooth sailing. I encountered a herd path leading 500 feet to the summit canister. The viewless summit contained a PVC canister.

I descended (shown in blue on the map) the herd path leading southwest for approximately 0.25 miles, unfortunately the herd path was curving it's way to the north in the direction of Wiggle Brook Rd bringing me further from my southerly destination. I left the herd path heading south - southeast through very open woods hitting the logging road a few hundred feet lower than my entry elevation. If you intend to replicate this route I would recommend starting the bushwhack between 2900 and 3000 feet elevation and ascending the southwest shoulder of Snow.

TRAIL DISTANCES:

HIKING DISTANCES
DESTINATION
DISTANCE TOTAL DIST.
logging road - bushwhack 1.0 miles 1.0 miles
bushwhack - Snow summit 0.5 miles 1.5 miles

HIKING TIMES:

HIKING TIMES
DESTINATION
TIME TOTAL TIME
logging road - bushwhack 30 minutes 30 minutes
bushwhack - Snow summit 30 minutes 1 hour
Snow summit - parking 45 minutes 1 hour 45 minutes

NOTES / COMMENTS:

Snow (Cupsuptic) is a trail less peak with no views from it's summit however it is the 24th highest peak in the state of Maine placing it 94th on the AMC list of New England 100 highest Mountains.  The relatively short unidirectional hike requires limited navigational skills and is an excellent confidence booster for my novice bushwhacking ability. 

Looking closely at the blog header picture shows the top of the PVC canister painted green.  The significance of a green top is not for camouflage but signifies a hiker has completed all 770 New England 3000 foot mountains on this particular peak.  After reading the log book I congratulate "Carl" who finished his NE3k list here.

 A moose eyeing me as I bushwhack to Mt. Snow.
 
 A dusting of snow covering the summit area of Mt. Snow.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Mt. Mary (E Pilot), Middle Pilot, NW Pilot, Hutchins

a cabin near the summit of Mt. Mary
STATE: New Hampshire
TOWN: Stark
DESTINATION: Mt. Mary (East Pilot), Middle Pilot, NW Pilot, Hutchins
ELEVATION: 3560 feet, 3615 feet, 3520 feet, 3730 feet
Mary SUMMIT COORDINATES: N44 31.799', W71 25.760'
Middle Pilot SUMMIT COORDINATES: N44 33.034', W71 26.232'
Northwest Pilot SUMMIT COORDINATES: N44 32.241', W71 26.721'
Hutchins SUMMIT COORDINATES: N44 32.875', W71 27.276'
TRAIL: private trail from Lost Nation, bushwhack
DISTANCE: 9.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 3035 feet
HIKING TIME: 5 hours 15 minutes
SEASON: Late Summer
DATE: September 14, 2013
WEATHER: Rainy, 55 degrees

PARKING:

From Route 2 in Lancaster, at the center of town turn on to Middle street (also North road) for 2.0 miles. Turn left onto Grange road following it 2.0 miles bearing left on Lost Nation road. Follow Lost Nation road 1.9 miles to Herman Savage road on the right. Follow Arthur White Rd 0.35 miles to the house at it's end.

USGS QUAD: USGS Stark Quad

MAP: (Mt. Mary) (Middle Pilot) (Hutchins)



DESCRIPTION:

Previous reports describe access from a private trail at the end of Arthur White Drive. The property appears intimidating with no trespassing and no hunting signs however as you get closer it mentions hikers are welcome with permission. I parked in a small parking area below the house, knocked on the door and spoke with the property owner Joe who was extremely friendly and welcome to hikers (as long as you don't have a motorized vehicle or gun) using his land. He described the trail in detail and offered some sound advice. The mowed grassy trail leads up the right edge of the property fields then continues into the woods. At the first Y bear left, at the 2nd intersection bear right. After approximately 1 mile the grassy road ends and impressive trail (that's right I said trail) enters the woods. The trail is unmarked but very easy to follow as it moderately ascends over an easy grade through hardwoods paralleling a stream to your left. At 2700 feet the trail bears right, increases elevation and gains the ridge along a contour of Middle Pilot. The trail continues northeast descending to a cabin and continues past the cabin to the wooded 3560 foot summit of Mt. Mary. There is a wooden summit register box marking the summit.

Return past the cabin to the height of land on Middle Pilot and I made a straight line bushwhack through heavy spruce trees and loose moss footing gaining the Middle Pilot summit relatively quickly. The summit has no views but is marked with a PVC canister very high on a tree.

From Middle Pilot I heeded the advice I received from Joe and descended along the northeastern side of M Pilot bearing in an easterly direction whenever I encountered thicker sections. It was awesome advice and I descended through a very healthy fern glade with an occasional blowdown to the col. My luck continued along the eastern ridge of Northwest Pilot to it's summit. Northwest Pilot doesn't have enough of a col to be counted on most New Hampshire lists and I wondered if there would be any markings or canister on it's domed summit. The highest point was a challenge to find and after wandering in circles performing a drunk bee dance I found a glass jar mounted to a twin white birch tree.

I continued an open woods bushwhack. My only complaint was the excessive rain over the past few days made the ferns strong, tall and healthy causing the inability to see my footing through the fronds and occasionally catching a blowdown in the shin. The blowdowns and terrain pulled me to the east of the col and I had to adjust my bearing to catch the centerline of the col to ascend Hutchins. My good bushwhacking karma faded resulting in very thick whacking along the centerline of the ridge. I attempted to float east and encountered waves of ferns mixed with heavy fir trees and a rare herd path. This continued approx. 0.3 miles before I hit a demoralizing 15 - 20 foot tall band of cliffs. I managed to find a notch to weave my way up and was rewarded with open woods for approximately a tenth of a mile before a very thick section just below the summit. I broke through directly under the PVC canister and found limited views to the east. There is also an open area to the west approximately 75 feet from the canister with directional views to the South.

I wasn't excited about the return bushwhack and descended in a easterly direction much further east than I was comfortable with however found very open woods (avoiding the thick stuff, cliffs and fir waves) all the way to the col. I bypassed the NW Pilot summit following a high contour on the eastern side of the peak and descended to the col ascending Middle Pilot. I made a significant error in judgment to avoid the Middle Pilot summit by following a low contour along the western side of M. Pilot. It was a huge mistake and I encountered very difficult terrain. The steep western slope of Middle Pilot was littered with blowdowns and mossy covered boulders with insecure footing slowing my pace to a screeching halt. I would highly recommend returning back over the top. I exited the woods about 100 feet from my height of land entrance point and enjoyed following the well defined trail back to civilization.

Joe was in his barn as I passed and I stopped to thank him for allowing me to cross his property, complimented the excellent condition of his trail and expressed my thorough appreciation for his advice "Stay to the east of the ridge". Round trip was 5 hours and 15 minutes.

TRAIL DISTANCES:

*NOTE** - All trail distances below are approximate

HIKING DISTANCES
DESTINATION
DISTANCE TOTAL DIST.
mowed grass path - start of private trail 0.75 miles 0.75 miles
private trail - Cabin 2.0 miles 2.75 miles
Cabin - Mt. Mary summit 0.25 miles 3.0 miles
Mt. Mary summit - Middle Pilot summit 0.5 miles 3.5 miles
Middle Pilot summit - NW Pilot summit 0.45 miles 3.95 miles
NW Pilot summit - Hutchins Mtn. summit 1.0 miles 4.95 miles
Hutchins summit - private trail 1.5 miles 6.45 miles
private trail - parking 2.55 miles 9.0 miles

HIKING TIMES:

HIKING TIMES
DESTINATION
TIME TOTAL TIME
mowed grass path - start of private trail 15 minutes 15 minutes
private trail - Cabin 50 minutes 1 hour 5 minutes
Cabin - Mt. Mary summit 15 minutes 1 hour 20 minutes
Mt. Mary summit - Middle Pilot summit 25 minutes 1 hours 45 minutes
Middle Pilot summit - NW Pilot summit 25 minutes 2 hours 10 minutes
NW Pilot summit - Hutchins Mtn. summit 1 hour 3 hours 10 minutes
Hutchins summit - private trail 1 hour 4 hours 10 minutes
private trail - parking 1 hour 5 minutes 5 hours 15 minutes

NOTES / COMMENTS: 

After arriving at the end of the road on Arthur White Dr. I was a bit apprehensive to chat with the land owner after seeing several no trespassing and no hunting signs. I found the courage to get out of my car and take a closer look and found the property owner welcomes hikers and is extremely friendly.  He described in detail the trail leading all the way to the Mt. Mary summit and suggested I stay to the east along the ridge.  His advice and tutelage made this a very easy hike and bushwhack. 

 A mowed grassy path leading to Mt. Mary
 
 The end of the mowed path and trailhead ascending Mt. Mary

 A property marker.  I suspect this is the upper left corner of the red square on the map above.

 Mt. Mary summit register
 
The very high summit canister on Middle Pilot

 Healthy fern bushwhack from Middle Pilot to NW pilot

 Northwest Pilot summit jar

3730 foot Mt. Hutchins summit sign and canister.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Mt. Katahdin - Baxter and Hamlin Peaks

Mt. Katahdin
STATE: Maine
TOWN: Baxter State Park
DESTINATION: Mt. Katahdin - Baxter Peak, Hamlin Peak
ELEVATION: 5268 feet, 4756 feet
Baxter SUMMIT COORDINATES: N45 54.268', W68 55.311'
Hamlin SUMMIT COORDINATES: N45 55.452', W68 55.640'
TRAIL: Helon Taylor trail, Knife edge, Saddle trail, Hamlin Ridge trail, Baxter cutoff, Abol Slide
DISTANCE: 12.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 3170 feet
HIKING TIME: 6 hours 30 minutes
SEASON: Summer
DATE: August 2, 2005

PARKING: Entrance to Baxter State Park currently requires a $14.00 day use fee (for out of state guests) which can be paid at a main entrance gatehouse.  A limited amount of cars are allowed in each parking area and it is recommended to arrive very early to ensure you are "on the list".  From the Togue Pond gatehouse follow the Park Tote road northeast about 8 miles to Roaring Brook campground.  Parking is available for approximately 50 cars.

USGS QUAD: Mount Katahdin Quad

MAP: (Katahdin - Baxter Peak) (Katahdin - Hamlin Peak)



DESCRIPTION:

From parking at Roaring Brook campground head towards the ranger cabin and follow the Chimney Pond trail 0.1 miles to the Helon Taylor trail junction.  The Helon Taylor trail climbs moderately through a mixed forest 0.5 miles to the crest of a ridge. The trail levels off for a short distance passing some large boulders providing great views and passing through scrub trees. At 2.0 miles you reach tree line before an exposed, ruthless and relentless climb of Keep Ridge eventually reaching 4919 foot Pamola Peak after 3.2 miles.  A narrow ridge with jagged peaks  known as the Knife Edge leads 1.1 miles to the Baxter Peak summit. The knife edge is a precarious hike where, in places the trail is only 2-3 feet wide with thousand foot drops on both sides of you.  It's intimidating, scary and one of the most spectacular mountain trails I've ever experienced. Take your time over this extremely challenging 3/4 mile of trail and enjoy the height, cliffs and exposure reaching Baxter south peak then turning northwest following the ridge another .35 miles to the highest point in Maine - Katahdin, Baxter Peak. The summit is marked with a well worn triangular KATAHDIN sign.

Descend the well worn Saddle trail over gentile slopes following cairns 1.0 miles to the saddle between Baxter and Hamlin Peaks and the junction with the Northwest Basin trail.  Ascend Northwest basin climbing 500 feet vertical over 1 mile distance to a junction known as Caribou Spring.  From Caribou Spring follow the Hamlin Ridge trail a short 0.2 miles to Hamlin Peak, the second highest point in Maine.

There are several trails that descend in an easterly direction towards Chimney Pond and the Roaring Brook parking area.  I had the benefit of a car spot and the ability to traverse the mountain descending the Abol Trail to Abol Campground on the West side of Katahdin. I would not recommend this route unless you have a more than your feet as a means of transportation.

Return via Hamlin Ridge to Caribou Spring and follow the Northwest Basin trail descending to the Saddle trail junction.  Ascend a few hundred feet to the Baxter Cutoff and follow the elevation contour around the cone of Baxter Peak 0.9 miles to a junction known as Thoreau Spring. Descend Abol Slide down the Southwestern side of Katahdin. The slide is dangerous due to loose gravel, extreme steepness and sore legs after a long day of hiking, use caution. Steeply descend a huge boulder field then continue descending a bare slope 1.3 miles to the foot of the slide.  The trail enters the woods and follows Abol stream to a old carriage road distributing you at the back of Abol Campground. 

TRAIL DISTANCES:

HIKING DISTANCES
DESTINATION
DISTANCE TOTAL DIST.
Chimney Pond trail - Helon Taylor trail 0.1 miles 0.1 miles
Helon Taylor trail - Tree line 2.0 miles 2.1 miles
Helon Taylor trail - Pamola Peak 1.2 miles 3.3 miles
Knife Edge - Baxter Peak 1.1 miles 4.4 miles
Saddle trail - Northwest Basin trail 1.0 miles 5.4 miles
Northwest Basin trail - Hamlin Ridge trail 1.0 miles 6.4 miles
Hamlin Ridge trail - Hamlin Peak 0.2 miles 6.6 miles
Hamlin Ridge trail - Northwest Basin trail 0.2 miles 6.8 miles
Northwest Basin trail - Saddle trail 1.0 miles 7.8 miles
Saddle trail - Baxter cutoff 0.8 miles 8.6 miles
Baxter cutoff - Thoreau Spring junction 0.9 miles 9.5 miles
Abol Trail - Abol Campground 2.8 miles 12.3 miles

HIKING TIMES:

HIKING TIMES
DESTINATION
TIME TOTAL TIME
Chimney Pond trail - Helon Taylor trail 5 minutes 5 minutes
Helon Taylor trail - Tree line 55 minutes 1 hour
Helon Taylor trail - Pamola Peak 1 hour 2 hours
Knife Edge - Baxter Peak 45 minutes 2 hours 45 minutes
Saddle trail - Northwest Basin trail 30 minutes 3 hours 15 minutes
Northwest Basin trail - Hamlin Ridge trail 40 minutes 3 hours 55 minutes
Hamlin Ridge trail - Hamlin Peak 5 minutes 4 hours
Hamlin Ridge trail - Northwest Basin trail 5 minutes 4 hours 5 minutes
Northwest Basin trail - Saddle trail 20 minutes 4 hours 25 minutes
Saddle trail - Baxter cutoff 20 minutes 4 hours 45 minutes
Baxter cutoff - Thoreau Spring junction15 minutes 5 hours
Abol Trail - Abol Campground 1 hour 30 minutes 6 hours 30 minutes

NOTES / COMMENTS:

Baxter State Park is over 200,000 acres of wilderness land donated to the State of Maine to be preserved for wildlife and woodland related activities.  Baxter State park is a unique and fascinating place that I recommend using a long weekend to explore the vast wilderness. It contains several picnic areas, almost a dozen campgrounds, the highest two mountains in Maine, Mt. Katahdin - Baxter Peak and Hamlin Peak and arguably the best hiking experience in New England.

I spent the weekend at Abol Campground and enjoyed the benefit of driving the park Tote road before the Togue Pond gatehouse opened for the day.  This amenity also allowed me the benefit of a non-hiking partner who willingly dropped me off at Roaring Brook in the morning allowing me to fully explore Pamola peak, the Knife Edge and the summit proper of Katahdin.  I conveniently descended the Abol trail directly to my campground.

The trail junction with the Helon Taylor trail
 
 A view up Keep Ridge from the Helon Taylor trail

 Baxter Peak from 4919 foot Pamola Peak

Views from Pamola Peak
 
The Knife Edge
 
 The highest point in Maine, Katahdin - Baxter Peak
 
Katahdin, Hamlin Peak