Royce Trail

Trail: Royce Trail
Location: Evans Notch
Length: 8.2 miles
Difficulty: Varied Easy to moderately difficult
GPS Track w/ Waypoints: Royce Trail
Geocaches in the area: None in the immediate area but some close by

Welcome to Royce Trail.  This trail was endured by the Sidekick and I this week.  Probably this is going to be the last long hike by the Sidekick and I this year.  Weather is starting to become a little unpredictable and daylight is getting starting to shorten makes these longer hikes difficult to manage.  Royce trail begins almost directly across RT 113 from Brickett Place on the New Hampshire side of Evans Notch.  Brickett Place has plenty of parking and a fairly new latrine for facilities, Brickett Place also is the jumping off point for Bickford Brook Trail which leads to Speckled Mountain.

After crossing RT 113 (be extremely of traffic vehicles sometime travel very fast) the path follows the remnants of an old road for the first third of a mile, as you can see it is very easy going.  Just prior to reaching the first crossing of the Cold River (WP Water Crossing) the path will travel through the remnants of some of Brickett Places old farm fields.  We caught a few quick flashes of deer running from the chattering Sidekick on my back.  Deer and moose tracks covered the trail down to the river crossing.  Today the river crossing was an easy rock hop but there were signs that during high water this could be a difficult if not impossible crossing.  For the next 1.3 miles the trail will criss-cross Cold River four more times.  This section of the trail is a laid back hike while walking through the river.  There are a few rough patches where erosion caused the trail to be more rocks then dirt.  Also there is a good amount of dry stream crossings, during the spring melt off or after some heavy rains it will probably be a much more difficult hike.

The fifth crossing is your warning for the end of the easy trails.  Very soon the trail incline is going to increase.  The path will start to follow the side of the ridge line (WP Heading Up) paralleling Mad River.  Shortly after starting up the ridge line the trail will meet a small spur trail heading to Mad River Falls.  The spur is a very short goat path to an small overhang that looks out onto a long stepped waterfall.  There are is a small path that leads down to the base of the waterfall but with the Sidekick strapped to my back I didn’t feel comfortable scrambling down the five foot face of the overhang.  Once back on the main part of the trail continues its upward climb.  This section of the trail is actually pretty smooth.  Mostly dirt there is only a few rough patches where rain run off has eroded a few patches that can be a little tricky especially if it’s wet.  When the trail leads Mad River behind be prepared for the difficulty level of the trail to increase.  Surprisingly this section of the trail was the most difficult when we heading back to our Jeep.  The loose gravel and dirt on this steep trail made for some very treacherous footing.   Both the elevation climb will increase and the difficulty of the terrain will increase.  The trail travels in a draw between two ridges as it climbs, while reducing the steepness of the climb it increases the difficulty of the terrain because of the loose boulders that have fallen down from the surrounding hills.  These boulders have also been grown over by forest growth and forest debris.  Make double sure of your footing or pole placement before you put any weight down, I had the joy of having my trekking pole drop down four feet into a crevice that was hidden by some rotten pine needles just as I was putting my weight on it.  This is going to be a section that slow and steady should be your motto.

This steady climb will continue for almost a mile.  As you head higher make sure to take the time to look over your shoulder, slowly the valley will start to open up behind you through the trees.  If you look up and to the left as you climb you can see our destination.  Eventually the trail will meet up with the Laughing Lion Trail (WP Royce and Laughing Lion Junc) from here the trail increases its climb a small amount.  Take heart though it is only 2/10ths of a mile more of this steep section.

As the trail approaches another trail intersection (WP Royce Connector) the slope of the trail reduces and starts to flatten out.  As you approach the trail junction not only does the trail gradient reduce but the terrain of the trail reduces.  Now is the time to catch your breath and let your legs rest as the trail meanders in a saddle between West Royce and East Royce mountain.  As we followed the path towards West Royce Mtn the trail was an easy walk.  There has been some recent trail maintenance that provided log walkways over the wet sections of the path.  Following the path along with us were some very fresh bull moose tracks that were just plain HUGE.  From the tracks it looks like he veered into the woods about a 100 yards from the Royce Connector I think we just missed seeing this huge guy.  I would not be surprised if he heard a certain chattering sidekick making a ton of noise.

When the trail meets up with Burnt Mill Brook Trail coming up from the Wild River Road (WP Burnt Mill Brook Junction) the trail heads up the ridge towards the West Royce Mtn.  This also is the end of the easy going, luckily the trail follows the ridge line instead of the cliff front.  There is a few spots that are very difficult with the Sidekick strapped to my back.  Especially with the misting rain that occurred the night before some of the rock face that we were scrambling up were pretty slick.

As we approached the peak the ceiling started lower.  By the time we finally reached the top of the mountain the ceiling had met us and then kept heading down into the valley.  As we were taking a break and eating our lunch and the Sidekick trying to snack on small pine cones the ceiling was heading lower and lower into the valley and we were getting deeper into the clouds.  The temperature started to drop quickly and it started to mist.  The Sidekick didn’t not like the cold and wet and started shivering so Pops whipped out the Woobie bundled him in the Kelty Kid Carrier II and we headed back down the mountain in a highly motivated pace.  About an 45 minutes later we were about a mile and half down the trail and about 1000 feet lower altitude, the temperature had increased a little and he was a lot more happy.  He is always enjoys the descent the most especially with the bouncy as I step down the hills.

This trail was definitely a challenge with the kid carrier.  There was a couple of spots where I had very tight line and the Sidekick would shift his weight at just the wrong time and throw me off balance, the trekking pole that I used came in extremely handy quite a few times on this hike.  If you are heading out on this trail with a kid carrier definitely start out before mid morning so that you can take time on the steeper sections.

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Basin Trail

Trail: Basin Trail (to the rim)
Location: Evans Notch
Length: 4.6 mi
Difficulty: Moderate
GPS Track w/ Waypoints: Basin Trail
Geocaches in the area: GC13WKF, GC1XFXK, GC204TF, GC1XFWA

This is the hike that almost didn’t happen.  So early Wednesday morning the Boss (also known as my awesome wife) asked my plans for the day.  “Well might finally get a chance to mow the lawn or get the yard ready for winter” was my reply.  “It is going to rain the rest of the week” was her riposte.  Sigh don’t you love fall in Maine?  So the internal struggle begins.  To hike or not to hike.  This is the only day the Sidekick and I could get out of the house and spend time in the woods but there is a stack of chores that need to be done, mow the lawn, chop and split wood for the winter, get the snowthrower ready for winter, and a myriad of small tasks that need to be completed before snowflakes fly.  Well as you can see the hike won out.

We initially headed to hike the MT Meader Trail.  When we arrived at the trailhead it looked more like a logging site then a trailhead, trash, spare chainsaws laying around, dog food dishes, and a bag of empty budlight cans.  So on the spur of the moment I decided we would hike up to the Basin Rim via the Basin Trail.  The Basin Trail connects the Basin Pond with Wild River Campground.  I have hiked the Wild River Campground side many times but this was the first time we hiked the Basin Pond side.  The trail starts in the parking lot for the Basin Pond picnic area.  The picnic area has a few picnic tables, grill stands, and a boat ramp.  There use to be a latrine in the area also but it seems that it has been taken out.  Cold River Campground is close by and the Basin Campground is just a little farther up the road.

The trail begins winding through the woods up hill a little from the shoreline as it heads to the head of the pond.  Shortly after entering the trail you will discover many small trails cutting across the trail.  They are coming from the separate campsites of the Basin Campground, be careful that you don’t wander off the main path.  As you pass through this section the sounds from the campground will follow you through the woods.  The trail winds through the woods sometimes dipping close to the pond shoreline offering a teasing glimpse of the potential views of the mountains.  After a little over a half mile the trail will dip down to the shoreline and meet up with the remnants of an old access road.  As the path follows the shoreline the pond will start to turn into a bog with winding streams of open water cutting through the swamp growth.  Enjoy this part of the trail because very shortly it will leave the remnants of the road and head back into the woods, (WP Leaves road) just prior to reaching the waypoint keep an eye out for the HUGE beaver dam in the area.  I had a small glimpse of a wake in the pond which was most likely a beaver but it was gone in a flash.

Even though the trail leaves the old road it still doesn’t get that much more difficult.  For a while the trail is actually quite easy and enjoyable.  The trail winds through the woods above the pond.  There are multiple stream crossings, many of them are dry during this part of the year, but many of them are not so dry (WP Brook Crossing) at this time all of the crossing were very easy but during the spring months I believe this could be quite difficult.  A small bridge offers dry crossing when the trail actually crosses over the Basin Brook.  Even after the dry summer we have there was many wet spots in the trail.  The trail will start to slowly climb as it winds through the glades.  Eventually the trail will offer a small bypass in the form of access to Hermit Falls Loop.

This intersection (WP Lower Hermit Falls Junc) provides access to Hermit Falls which is a small but energetic waterfall falling down a series of rock outcroppings reaching out from the forest floor.  The intersection also marks the end of the leisure stroll through the forest and the beginning of the up hill climb.  The trail remains dry through most of this section until you reach a small brook (WP Meet and Follow Brook) where the trail will parallel and then cross a small stream.  This crossing is complicated a bit by a massive tree that has fallen across the trail and partially rotted, smaller kids might have a difficult time navigated the path in this area.

Once making the crossing the terrain will really start to climb.  But the trail difficulty does not increase that much.  The trail approaches the increasing elevation at a shallow angle thus making for a moderate assent.  Because of this though there are spots along the trail where the slope of the hill falls away sharply from the edge of the trail.  An excited sidekick or an unobservant parent could easily take a step that would have a long drop so keep an extra eye out.  Eventually you will notice a steep rock face through the trees on your right.  Don’t worry we are not going to have to scale that.  The trail skirts along the bottom of the rock face when the trail passes the rock face it will turn sharply up towards the top of the ridge.  The trail is going to pass through a cleft in the Basin Rim while this section is short it can be a little tricky because of the lose rocks and sand but not very difficult.  After passing through this section congratulate yourself because now you are at the top of the Basin Rim.  In about a hundred feet you will meet up with the Basin Rim Juntion (WP Rim Junction).  From the this trail junction you can continue on down the Basin Trail which leads to Wild River Campground, Black Angel Trail and the Blue Brook Shelter, Mt Meader via the Basin Rim Trail, or West Royce Mtn via the other side of Basin Rim Trail.

The sidekick and I continued along the Basin Rim Trail towards Mt Meader for a couple of minutes until I got a good look at the sun.  We had about twoish hours before the sun would slip behind the ridgeline so we turned around and spent some time on an outcropping relaxing.  Well I tried to relax and he tried to eat everything that he could get his hands on.  He enjoyed the maple leaves but decided that pine cones were not a delicacy that he enjoyed.  After our rest we headed back down the Basin Trail back to our jeep.

This section of the Basin Trail is an excellent family hike, because its short distance and varied terrain layout it could act as a good trial run to see if your sidekicks are ready to tackle the more difficult rated trails in the area.  Just make be aware that there are sections of the trail that are going to be very wet during the spring months.

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Spruce Hill Trail to Speckled Mountain

Trail: Spruce Hill Trail
Location: Evans Notch
Length: 5.8 mi
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
GPS Track w/ Waypoints: Spruce Hill Trail
Geocaches in the area: GC147DJ

Well it has been a few weeks since the Sidekick and I had a chance to head off to the White Mountains so I was looking forward getting our feet back on the trail.  Once again the weather didn’t look like it was going to cooperate fully and we had a smaller window then normal to complete the hike so we headed up Spruce Hill Trail to Speckled Mountain.  The Spruce Hill Trail shares a parking lot with East Royce Trail, there is no facilities at this location so make sure you come already prepared with water.  Spruce Hill Trail is on the opposite side of the road from parking lot, during the months of full foliage the trail head can be difficult to see because the sign for the trail is on the opposite side of the trail.

As the trail heads away from RT113 there is a noticeable difference in the trail condition then from the other trails that we visited earlier this summer.  The trail was much rougher and the condition was degraded due to water erosion.  The first half mile of trail winds through mostly a beech grove.  This section of the trail is very rough with loose rocks covering the trail.  Since this section of the trail doesn’t see a lot of traffic there are a few areas where you need to keep an eye on the trail blazes because it would be easy to get off trail especially areas that have been effected by water runoff.  These runoffs often will look like the trail especially when the trail is following a stream or brook.  Once the trail reaches the Caribou Speckled Mountain Wilderness Boundary line (WP Wilderness line) the forest nature changes to a majority of  conifers.  After passing the boundary line the elevation grade of the hillside increases and the trail will start on a series of rough switchback as it climbs up the ridge line.

After climbing up the switchback the trail reaches a small plateau which is the smaller peak of a small saddle, the trail will get a little wet here since the run off is a little restricted in the trough of the saddle.  Don’t get too excited as you reach Spruce Hill there is not much of a view.  If hiking over this section as a part of a longer hike this area though has a few good camping spots off the trail well sheltered and dry.  After leave the mildly disappointing peak of Spruce Hill the trail does begin to get a little bit more tricky to navigate especially with a sidekick strapped to your back.  The trail plunges down into a small ravine between a couple of ridge lines once again be ready for a few areas of muddy terrain and wet spots.  The trail will shortly start to climb again out of the saddle and towards the ridge line of Ames Mountain.

Shortly after climbing out of the saddle we will meet our old friend Bickford Brook Trail (WP Spruce Hill Bickford Junction).  Spruce Hill Trail runs into Bickford Brook Trail and ends here.  The sidekick and I continued on up the Bickford Brook Trail heading towards Speckled Mountain.  This section of the trail is really easy going.  Bickford Brook Trail actually travels over the remnants of the old access road for the fire tower that use to be on the top of Speckled Mountain.  For most of this section the trail follows the lay of Ames Mountain so this section is a great area to make up some extra time or if the Sidekick wants to do some hiking on his own.

After walking on the Bickford Brook Trail for about 3/4th of a mile we run into another intersection (WP BBT/BRT Junction) we will be leaving the Bickford Brook Trail and head towards Speckled Mountain.  From this intersection it is only a half mile more until we reach the peak so keep going.  After leaving this junction the trail continues to be in good condition and easy going.  The trail actually will open out into a huge clearing (WP Clearing).  During raspberry season this clearing will be full of fruit so a hiker should really be careful of bears in this area.  The White Mountain National Forest has recently had an increase the bear population and this is a prime location for them.  The path narrows into a small path as it winds through the grass and raspberry plants.  Make sure you are on the right path because game trails branch off from the path in multiple locations along with a few paths that some hikers have created in heading to camp sites.

After passing through the clearing the trail becomes a good bit narrower and rocky as it makes the final ascent to the peak of Speckled Mountain.  As the trail approaches the peak it will start to open up to the rock face of the mountain.  There you can see what is left of the Fire Tower that use to crown this peak.  All that remains are the concrete pylons that formed the mounting points for the tower.  I wanted spend more time exploring the top of this area.  According to the map there is suppose to be a spring in the area.  The weather had been interesting during the whole hike.  High winds and sprinkles of rain kept showing up and then leaving allowing the sun to shine through.  One of the reasons I picked this hike was because the terrain of the area offers shelter from the worse of the wind.  The sidekick was not that pleased once we were on the peak and exposed to the high winds so we headed back after only a few minutes.  From what I saw while there Speckled Mountain seems to be a popular camp location when people are doing over night hikes in the area.

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Slippery Brook – Baldface Circle Trail

Trail: Slippery Brook Trail – Bald Face Circle Loop
Location: Evans Notch
Length: 7.3 mi
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
GPS Track w/ Waypoints: Slippery Brook Trail
Geocaches in the area: GC1E2F0GC5471GC158Y1

So this week we headed back to the Baldface to hike a different section of the ridge then on our last outing.  Starting at the same parking lot (WP Parking) we heading up the RT 113 for a few hundred feet to the trail head.  The trail head is right off of RT 113.  The trail also provides access to Bicknell Ridge Trail, Baldface Circle Trail along with the Slippery Brook Trail which is where we will be starting our hike.  The first section of this trail is very well traveled due to the popularity of the Emerald Pool which is just off the first junction that you will run into (WP Emerald Pool Int).  Shortly after passing the intersection for Emerald Pool the trail will open up even more as it joins the remnants of an old logging.  Almost immediately the trail meets up with the next big intersection in the trail (WP Circle Junction).  Here is where the Baldface Circle Trail starts its loop we are going to swing up towards the left which will take us to the Slippery Brook Trail.  The intersection to the trail is just 2/10ths of a mile from the Circle Junction.  I found the first section of the Slippery Brook Trail really enjoyable.  The trail moves through a mature forest with a minimum amount of undergrowth.  The mature tree growth provides excellent cover so the trail doesn’t suffer from much trail erosion that is so common in this area.  This lack of erosion made for a very nice walk through the woods on the trail.  In a few sections if it wasn’t for the well marked yellow blazes it seemed that I was the first one to walk through that section of the woods.  The trail elevation rises and falls as it gradually gains altitude while passing through this easy section there will be two creek crossing.  The first one (WP Creek Crossing) could be a little tricky if done in the spring or after a long rain period.  Shortly after the second creek crossing the trail will start to climb in elevation at steeper rate.  Unfortunately so does the smooth uneroded trail we were enjoying.  The trail starts to narrow swiftly.  The trail starts to parallel a couple of different creeks the noise will accompany you as the trail climbs.

As the sounds of the accompanying creeks fade into the distance the trail’s degree of climb will start to increase.  The trail remains easy going for the most part with just a few spots effected heavily by erosion so be careful of loose rocks and roots that will try and jump up and grab you.  Eventually the overhead cover will start to thin out as the trail goes through a stand of dead birches (WP Dead Birch Clearing).  Grown cover starts to get thick quick because of the thinned out overhead.  Almost immediately after passing through the stand of dead birches the trail comes to a four way intersection (WP Trail Intersection).  Slippery Brook Trail continues on another eight miles to the Slippery Brook Road but we are going to hang a right unto Baldface Knob Trail.  The Baldface Knob Trail is a short legged trail that meets up with Baldface Circle Trail.  About half way through this small connecting trail the trail opens up onto a flat table top ridge known as Baldface Knob (WP Baldface Knob Peak) after a very steep climb up to the table top.  This is a great spot to take a break.

Baldface Knob is a great spot to stop and enjoy the scenery.  The trail is well marked with large cairns while it travels over this expanse of rock.  The Sidekick really enjoyed this area.  I got a huge leg cramp as we approached the Knob so we took an extended break (so much that we had to modify our plans) because of the extra time and extra open space on the Knob I was able to allow the Sidekick to explore the rocks and terrain.  He was fascinated with the cairns and enjoyed the texture of the rocks.  He also enjoyed snagging a few of the plethora of blueberries covering the alpine zone.  From the Knob you have a great view of the South Baldface Mountain in fact if you look closely you can see the outline of cairns marking the trail that heads up the mountain.

From the Knob to the intersection of the Baldface Circle Trail (WP Baldface Trail Junction) the trail is a very entertaining hike with a great view of the whole valley in a few spots the trail can get a little wet since the rainfall doesn’t have a lot of places to go.  Once reaching Baldface Circle Trail a couple of decisions lay ahead of you.  From here its only a short 1/2 mile hike to the top of South Baldface or we can head down to the trail head via Baldface Circle Trail or we can head back to the Slippery Brook Trail.  If you are going to head down to the trail head via Baldface Circle Trail then be aware the trail is about to get much more difficult.  If you are hiking with young kids or with a kid carrier I strongly suggest returning back via Slippery Brook Trail.  Since this was the first time I had hiked this trail me and the Sidekick headed down the Baldface Circle Trail.  Well the trail got very interesting very fast.  Often we were scrambling down very steep sections that a little slip could mean a long tumble down some very hard rocks.  Once the trail gets to a point where it is too steep for rock cairns the trail gets to be very difficult to follow.  There are painted markers leading the way but often they were very faded and difficult to see.  Make sure you don’t leave a marker without making sure you know where the next one is.  The trail got especially tricky where rain run off was streaming out of cracks in the rock face and covering the trail with slime.  In less then 1/2 a mile elevation drops almost 1000 feet.

Once reaching the Alpine Zone (WP Alpine Zone) the trail abruptly flattens out but the trail is very rough, broken, and wet.  But at least it is not so steep that one can reach out and touch the side of the mountain.  Shortly after passing the Alpine Zone the trail meets up with the Baldface Shelter.  This is a lean to style shelter set up by the AMC as a waystation for hikers.  Along with the shelter there are a few campsites and a latrine, remember the low impact guidelines if you don’t want to use the shelter or established campsites then make sure that you are at least a quarter mile away before tenting down.

After leaving the shelter the trail continues to be wet and rough so watch your step.  Prior to reaching the Protection line (WP Protection Zone) the trail starts to dry out and smooth out.  In fact for the rest of the trail I was able to maintain a much steadier pace.  Just prior to reaching the Chandler Gorge side trail I met up with group of young people from the AMC that were doing trail maintenance.  They were doing an excellent job awesome group of people.

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Roberts Farm Preserve

Trail: Roberts Farm Preserve
Location: 64 Roberts Road, Norway ME
Length: Varied
Difficulty: Easy
GPS Track w/ Waypoints: Roberts Farm Preserve
Map: Map of Preserve (PDF Courtesy of Western Foothills Land Trust)
Geocaches in the area: GC241XX, GCGV0K, GC241YD, GC241Z0, GC2422Q, GC2423M, GC2421A, GC2420G, GC24200, GC2421V, GC23ZJJ, GC2422C

This week the Sidekick and I were fighting off a cold and just were not up to doing a complete hike.  One day I was exploring to and discovered that there was a large land preserve close by.  After more research I discovered that 150 Roberts Farm Preserve had a large network of walking, snowshoeing, and biking trails.  Some of the trails where even handicap accessible.  We headed there to do some strolling along the trails and to also do some geocaching along the way.

I was quite pleased to see the work that had been done by the Trails Association that has been doing the trail work in the Preserve.  The trails were clearly marked and well maintained.  All of the trail junctions were clearly marked with a number or letter which made it quite easy to find where you were located in the Preserve.  At the entrance of the trail system in the Preserve the Association has placed some trail maps that have been heavily laminated  to assist in your explorations.  Please make sure that they are returned for the next hiker.

As I mentioned the trails were clearly marked and well maintained.  In fact most of the trails where quite wide and open, either graveled or grassed over the going was very easy.  Interwoven with the large open trails where smaller trails that have been designed to a little bit more of a challenge and also paths for those of us that enjoy snowshoeing during the winter months.  That path that I took wove through the park and ended up being about 3.3 miles and only covered about a third of the park.  Each of the trails have been named after those that have left their mark on the local community. A description of the history of each can be found on the information bulletin in the parking lot.

This is a great Land Preserve open to all for no price besides respecting the rules and posted signs.  Currently due to trail construction they are asking for bike and horse riders to take a vacation from the trails this summer until the surface area grows a little bit more firm.

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Mud Brook Trail

Trail: Mud Brook Trail
Location: Evans Notch
Length: 6.6 mi
Difficulty: Moderate
GPS Track w/ Waypoints: Mud Brook Trail
Geocaches in the area: GCGE1EGC1FBAN, GC1BP26

This week the Sidekick and I headed up the Mud Brook Trail in the White Mountain National Forest.  Situated in Evan’s Notch the parking for the trail is right off of RT 113 just a little south of Hasting’s Campground.  The Caribou Trail is also located in the same parking lot along with a latrine.  We hiked the whole length of the Mud Brook Trail and returned back along the Caribou Trail so that we could hike in a loop and not retrace our steps.

The first part of the trail heads out from the parking lot and parallels RT113 for a little ways before heading away from the road and deeper into the woods.  For this section the trail is fairly open and smooth going.  Once meeting up with Mud Brook though (WP Meet the Brook) the trail starts get a little bit more difficult and some extra care should be taken.  The trail follows the Mud Brook for a while.  Through this section the trail starts to get a rougher and often very narrow.  Often in places the trail will drop off sharply into the brook so keep an eye on the sidekick if they are trying to do this part of the trail on their own.  Along the way there will be a few water crossings (WP Rocks and Stream Crossing) that can be a little difficult depending on how high the water is.  For the most part this part of the trail was pretty dry with just a few wet spots in low laying areas.

Shortly before reaching the Caribou – Speckled Mountain Wilderness Boundary you will find yourself crossing Mud Brook (WP Mud Brook Crossing) in the spring months or after a hard rain this could be a difficult and maybe even dangerous crossing.  During this time of year though it was a fairly easy crossing.  Once the crossing is achieved the Wilderness line is just a short distance away.  The trail once again starts to become a bit more difficult mainly because of the erosion that has occurred to the trail.  This erosion has caused root and rocks to roughen the trail greatly take extra care that you don’t twist an ankle or trip.  The trail still won’t experience much of an incline during this section of the trail.  Its not until the trail crosses Mud Brook for a second time that the trail begins to climb.

The trail starts to climb sharply in a series of switchbacks (WP Switchbacks) at the beginning, after a few switchbacks it starts to climb continually higher up the mountainside.  Occasionally the trail will flatten out to give you a rest but steadily climb higher, don’t forget to occasionally look behind you there in the gaps of the trees off to the right you can start to see the valley open up under you.  Eventually the deciduous trees start to give way as you climb up onto a ridge and the forest opens out in a huge stand of conifers (WP Conifer Stand).  I really enjoyed the trail in this section.  Not only does it seem that the trail has not suffered as much erosion as the lower sections but also the conifers are not as tightly packed as the deciduous trees a little lower so this section is a bit more open allowing for breeze to blow through and help cool you off.  There are a few tricky spots in this conifer stand though, in a few areas the granite from the mountain side start to break through the forest floor making for difficult clamber with a kid carrier on your back.  Take time to ensure a good path is open before you.

Shortly after passing through the conifer stand the trail will break out of the tree cover for a moment and start to follow along the top of a ledge (WP Outlook) extra care needs to be taken long this way because it is a long way down.  From this vantage point you can see out over the mountain valley towards the eastern section of Evan’s Notch.  This also begins a certain game called almost there but not quite yet.  The trail starts to follow high point to high point with an occasional dip into a saddle between the highpoints.  At a few points you can just see the peak (WP Almost) and it can be a little tease that the top is so close but just needs a little bit more work.

Once reaching the top though it is more then worth it.  From various vantage points almost all of Evan’s Notch is laid open for your viewing.  Caribou Mountain has an interesting mountain top almost a table top with plenty of spots for an easy seat and enjoyment of the view.  Blueberry bushes abound along the edges of the boulders with berries aplenty.  From here Mud Brook trail continues down off the peak towards Caribou Trail or you can return back over the section of Mud Brook Trail that we already traveled.  The first section after we come off the peak is easy traveling as long as you try to take extra effort to keep an eye out for the blazes along the way.  In a few spots the blazes for the trail that have been painted on the rocks have faded to almost invisible marks.  Once dropping down off of the peak and the alpine region the trail turns to….well crap.

From the termination of the alpine zone to the Caribou and Mud Brook Trail intersection the trail is miserable.  This side of the mountain either gets more rain or retains moisture much better because the trail has been deeply eroded by water leaving wet rocks and roots prevalent in the trail.  Also there is not as much tree cover so more sunshine has reached the undergrowth.  There were multiple stretches of the trail that the undergrowth was so thick that I had difficulty seeing the path and where I was placing my feet on the wet rocks.  Mud Brook Trail meets and ends (or begins) with Caribou Trail (WP Trail Intersection)  The intersection is at a small open flat spot that opens out widely and offers a brief respite from the tangled undergrowth that infested this section of the trail.  Between the top of Caribou Mountain and this intersection the trail passes the former site of the Caribou Shelter and the Caribou Spring.  Most likely this is source of how wet this side of the mountain is.

After the trail leaves the intersection (WP Trail Intersection) and starts to trend down hill again.  The trail is slightly better  and a little drier making it a little easier to pick your steps soon though we will meet Morrison Brook.  The trail parallels Morrison Brook for most of the way.  Shortly after meeting the brook the trail will cross the brook, and then will cross the brook again,  and again.  Eventually Caribou trail crosses Morrison Brook five times.  One of the crossings though are at Kees Falls (WP Fourth Crossing) the trail crosses just above the falls so be careful because it could be a rough slide down if you slip.  There are side trails that lead down to the pool under the falls.  They are not the most of gentle trails especially if you have a kid carrier on your back.  After crossing the falls the trail drys out a little as the trail cuts along the side of the hill and the brook travels along beside you down in the ravine so be careful as it can be a steep drop off in a few locations.

Shortly after the fifth crossing of Morrison Brook (WP Yet Again) the trail will start to mellow out and open out a bit as the trees start to mature around you and the undergrowth starts to recede.  Eventually there will be one more water crossing (WP No More Bridge) and the trail will start to loop back to the trail head.  At time this section of the trail can be a bit deceiving if you are not tracking your progress on a GPS because the trail will turn towards a few clearings and will cause one to think that the parking lot is close.

This section of Caribou Trail that we traversed probably should be avoided in the spring during the melt or after a period of heavy rains.  Some of the crossing could be quite difficult if not very dangerous.

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Bicknell Ridge Trail

Trail: Bicknell Ridge Trail
Location: Evans Notch
Difficulty: Moderate
GPS Track w/ Waypoints: Bicknell Ridge Trail
Geocaches in the area: GC5471, GCY0K2

Here we go another week and another hike in the White Mountain National Forest this week we hiked Bicknell Ridge Trail.  This trail is an offshoot from the Baldface Circle Trail that circles the Baldface Peaks.  The trail head starts on the NH side of RT 113 close to 2.5 miles should of the Cold River Campground.  The first part of the trail is a nicely marked and wide open path through the woods.  Only the land directly around the trail in this section is part of the National Forest the rest of the surrounding land is private property so don’t be surprised if you see signs asking to respect the property owner’s land.  Just prior to reaching the first trail junction the trail comes across to a small trail intersection (WP Emerald Pool Int) this trail will lead to the Emerald Pool.  The Emerald Pool will be found at the bottom of a twenty or so foot water fall.  Here the water falls into a deep but small pool of water that often is the site of people enjoying the cool water.

Shortly after passing the off shoot trail that leads to the Emerald Pool you will reach the Circle Junction (WP Circle Junction) here you can head back to the Emerald Pool via a small trail that follows the brook, another trail also heads up to South Baldface.  We are heading for the Bicknell Ridge Trail so we are going to just carry on straight through the intersection.  Shortly after passing through the Circle Junction you will reach the first brook crossing.  After the brook crossing the trail continues to be fairly open and a easy way.  In a few areas trail erosion has caused trail deterioration so it can be a bit rough going in a couple of spots.

After close to 7/10ths of a mile from the Circle Junction we finally reach the beginning of the Bicknell Ridge Trail (WP BR and BCT Intersection) at a brook crossing.  The Bicknell Ridge Trail crosses the brook (a easy crossing) and starts to gently climb.  This first section of the trail is still a fairly easy grade but the forest starts to narrow the trail a bit.  As the trail approaches the cut off to Eagle Cascade the trail will start to increase in grade and the path difficulty will start to increase.  Before reaching the Eagle Cascade cut off the trail will start to climb up onto the ridge line (WP Rocks and Blueberries) that looks out onto the Baldface peaks and down into the Charles Ravine, as you climb up onto ridge line along the trail blueberry plants will start to line the trail.  From here the trail will start to follow the ridge line from outcropping to outcropping.  After the first outcropping you will soon come to the Eagle Cascade Link Trail (WP Eagle Cascade Int) this trail cuts to the Eagle Cascade and links up to the Baldface Circle Trail.  If only looking for a small hike this is a great way to head back towards the trail head by cutting back to the Baldface Circle Trail and then heading back to the trail head.  We continued up the ridge line.  At this time of year blueberry bushes had a great number of berries ripe for the picking as the trail climbs higher and higher.  This part of the trail does start to get mildly dangerous.  With a kid carrier it is easy to get off balance especially if the sidekick decides to shift his position at all of the new sites.

I found this section of the trail a lot of fun and enjoyable.  Not only does the valley open out for your view but even with the sun beating down there is a breeze helping to keep you cool.  The path trails from outcropping to outcropping ducking back into the woods for a time weaving through boulders and then returning to a new viewpoint.  Along this section there are multiple areas that would make for great sites to take a break.  Just maintain an extra eye on the little ones.  There are few areas that the side of the ridge drops off into the valley with a significant decline.  Just before reaching the top of the ridge that creates a saddle between Eagle Crag and North Baldface Mtn the trail passes the Alpine Zone (WP Alpine Zone).  This is an area the vegetation has a tendency to not recover as quickly from human traffic so the Forestry Department asks that you restrict from camping unless there is significant snow cover and to take extra care to either stay on the trail or only travel on rocks with no plant cover.  Take heart once reaching this sign the top of the ridge line is only a short distance away the top.

Once reaching the saddle between the two peaks a decision awaits you.  Head back the way we came, head towards North Baldface and the majority of the Baldface Circle Trail, head towards Eagle Crag and the shorter remnant of Baldface Circle Trail.   My original plan was to complete the Baldface Circle Trail via the North Baldface and South Baldface.  Due to the heat and that fact that I had already gone through 2 liters of water I decided to head back to the mountain via Eagle Crag.  Perhaps if I didn’t have the sidekick with me I would have continued along the longer path but I felt that it would smarter to take the shorter path.  So I turned towards Eagle Crag.  The short trail between the Bicknell Ridge Intersection and Eagle Crag is a short but interesting hike.  There is a few spots that a hiker should be take some extra care.  The sidekick seemed to find this area very interesting so was constantly shifting around in his carrier trying to see everything which made a couple of spots very tricky.

Eagle Crag is a large open flat peak that provides access to Meader Ridge Trail and the Eagle Link Trail that leads to Wild River Trail.  The sidekick and I spent a while here resting and eating our lunch.  He was quite fascinated with the large boulders in the area and spent quite a while exploring the varied textured surface of the rocks.  After this break we headed back along the Baldface Circle Trail.  A couple of hikers we met on the trail mentioned that it was a bit easier going then following the ridge line back along Bicknell Ridge Trail.  They were right.  What they forgot to mention though was that the first couple of hundred yards of the trail after leaving Eagle Crag had an extreme grade.  This section of the trail is extremely steep and we had to take extra care not to slide down the face of the cliff face.  Once this section of the trail is navigated though it was a much easier path.  The trail wanders through the woods instead of along a ridge line so it is sheltered from the sun.  Most of the path is quite open and dry.  A few wet spots can be found where steams or water has pooled along the trail but they are easily navigated.  We made really good time for this 2.3 mile section of trail.  Just before reaching the Bicknell Ridge and Baldface Circle Trail junction (WP BR and BCT Intersection) there is a small brook crossing (WP Brook Crossing) that could be a little tricky during spring melt or after a period of heavy rains but right now it was a pretty easy crossing.  Once you get to the Bicknell Ridge Trail intersection you on a section of the trail that we hiked on getting to this intersection so relax and enjoy knowing the end is close.

The rest of the trail is easy going as you head back to the trail head and parking lot.  Make sure that you keep an extra eye out when you have to cross RT 113.  Vehicles often travel quite fast in this section and being tired from the hike its easy to not pay attention.

Enjoy your travels.

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Basin Rim / Black Angel / Wild River Trail Loop

Trail: Basin Rim / Black Angel / Wild River Trail Loop
Location: Evans Notch
Difficulty: Low
GPS Track w/ Waypoints: Basin Rim / Black Angel / Wild River Trail
Geocaches in the area: GC1XFWA

Update: 19SEP11 The Wild River Campground and the road to the campground is closed at this time

This week’s hike was another loop made up of parts from three different trails. Starting in the parking lot at the Wild River Campground. This begins with a section of the Basin Rim Trail. This section of the Basin Rim Trail has always been my favorite trail. Perhaps I am biased because this is the first trail my Dad ever took me on. I still remember the stories he told of the different parts of the trail that he worked on while employed as a Forest Ranger in the White Mountain National Forest. In the last couple of years they have made a small change to this section of the Basin Rim Trail. The trail now loops around the campground instead of starting at the end of the road. This change has helped to direct hikers away from campsites. Prior to this change there was a few incidents of hikers wandering into people’s campsites especially at night.

Between WP Trail around Camp and WP Boardwalk the Basin Rim Trail is well marked and well traveled. For the most part the trail is open and clear. Erosion from hikers and water caused rocks and roots to be exposed so there is a danger at times of catching a toe are rolling an ankle. A swamp awaits at WP Boardwalk but because of the boardwalk the trail rises over the swamp. At times the boards can be slick so take some extra care. The current boardwalk is actually the second one. There still are remains of timbers from the original walkway that can be seen under the boardwalk. Once reaching the end of the boardwalk the trail begins to parallel Blue Brook. From this point until reaching the Blue Brook crossing (WP Blue Brook Crossing) the trail continues to be open and fairly easy going with gradual elevation changes. As you approach the first Blue Brook crossing the trail will climb over a small granite outcropping if hiking with sidekicks this would be a good time to make sure they are being careful because shortly the trail will sharply descent to the Blue Brook and erosion has caused few small drop offs along the trail.

The area of the crossing is one of my favorite spots in the White Mountain National Forest. This area is a great place for a lunch break or just spend some time exploring upstream. If just introducing little ones to hiking or friends that haven’t done that much hiking this is a great area to use as a turn around point. There is even a small deep pool in this area that is great for a quick dip. After crossing the brook the trail heads up and to the right. There are remnants of a trail that leads off to the left following a small creek if you follow this small trail it will eventually disappear into the forest. After the crossing the natural of the trail changes. This section is on top of a large out cropping of mountain rock. The soil in places is quite thin in places and a lot of the trail is actually bare rock. Bare rock that is often covered with lichen this causes the rock to turn quite slick when wet. This is another section of the trail that continues to parallel Blue Brook except now the Brook will be on the right side of the trail. There are quite a few areas of interest along this stretch. Erosion has not only made a few tricky sections of the trail (WP Edge of the Trail pictured here to the right) but also a few areas that have great rock water slides or swimming areas (WP Swimming)

Intersection for the Basin Rim and Black Angel Trail

After this section of the trail the path veers away from the brook and starts to climb with a couple of dips for creek crossings or depressions from washouts along the way. Eventually the path’s incline starts to increase (WP Climb Begins) sharply this section does not continue long though.  Shortly you will reach the intersection of Black Angel and Basin Rim Trail.  From here the trail degrades a little.  Wet terrain is more common and there are multiple small gullies from washouts that can make the trail a little difficult to little ones.  From the amount of moose and deer tracks on this section of the trail it seems that this trail is a highway for our four legged antlered friends.  When reaching the Blue Brook Shelter site you can see that the Shelter is no longer there.  They have established a few tent sites in the area though.  This location has been segregated as a forest revegetation site.  So if you are planning on using this area as an overnight camping site please make sure that you use the designated tent sites to allow the forest a chance to recover from all the traffic that occurred when the shelter was actually there.  Shortly after leaving this location (WP Tent Sites) the Black Angel Trail will lead you back to the Blue Brook Trail to another crossing (WP Blue Brook Xing) after the crossing the trail will start to follow the Blue Brook and start to climb in elevation again.  The climb in parts can be very steep and wet in a few spots as you climb to the peak.

Once you reach the top of the ridge (WP Ridgeline) the trail and woods around the trail open out a bit allowing for a better view through the forest.  There is a lot of icestorm and windstorm damage in the woods cover the Ridgeline.  There was one tree that had fallen over the trail that was at chest level that required some interesting gymnastics to bypass with the Deuter Kid Comfort strapped to my back.

Once reaching the ridgeline trail will start travel down hill eventually reaching Wild River and the Wild River Trail.  As you head down the trail often follows remnants of a very old logging road which makes for a leisurely hike.  Eventually the Black Angel Trail meets up with Wild River Trail  (WP Black Angel / Wild River Trail Intersection) the Black Angel Trail crosses the Wild River and continues on through the White Mountain National Forest.  From here taking the Wild River Trail will take you back to the Wild River Campground.  This is the same section of the Wild River Trail that I reviewed earlier just traveled in the opposite direction.  At the trail junction there is only about two and half miles back to the Trailhead.

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Table Rock

Trail: Table Rock
Location: Grafton Notch State Park
Difficulty: Low or Moderate (depending on path taken)
GPS Track w/ Waypoints: Table Top
Geocaches in the area: GC1DMQ, GC1D2XD, GC1BMNX, GC906D, GC1BMNE, GCG75C

Table Rock is a fairly short (2.2 miles) loop trail in the middle of the Grafton Notch State Park.  The parking for the Table Top trail (WP Parking Lot – Trail Head) also provides access to the Appalachian trail and trails to Old Speck.  Grafton Notch State Park is a self pay park so don’t forget to grab a park pass at the trail information bulletin board.  The trail head has bathroom access and weather forecast handouts.  There is also a journal if you want to log your trip.

Appalachian trail and access to Table Rock

The trail is across the road from the parking lot.  RT 26 is a busy road especially during the summer so care should be taken when kids are crossing the road.  Logging trucks often come around the corner just north of the trail with a good amount of speed due to the decline of the road.  The initial part of the trail after making the road crossing is often wet and muddy but the trail maintenance personal have installed a double beam walkways over most of the wet sections.  During the spring months often there is freestanding water or mud that will need to be navigated.  Other then a brook crossing (that has a small bridge) this section of the trail is of even terrain.

When you reach WP Trail Intersection there are two different paths that you can take.  If the left section of the trail is taken you will be following part of the Appalachian Trail.  This trail loops to the north and comes up the back side of the peak.  This section of the trail has a gentle incline and often wooden planks or beams provide trail paths over rough or wet areas.  The trail to the right is the path that we are taking today.  Almost immediately the trail difficulty will increase.  The trail is clearly marked with orange blazes during this part of the trail.  As the trail branches off to the south the grade of the trail will increase mark ability.  From the intersection at WP Intersection until the peak the trail is going to be difficult for younger kids, in some locations it will be dangerous for them.  Those using kid carriers like I was will find some of the terrain quite interesting.  There was a few spots that required some interesting contortions to fit the kid carrier over or through boulders.

As the trail approaches WP Caves the terrain of the trail is going to increase again in difficulty.  Both the steepness of the trail and the collection of rocks that have fallen from the cliff face will make for the good challenge.  When you arrive at some of the larger obstacles at WP Caves there is a few small bypasses that will allow you to avoid one of the more difficult scramble over the boulders.  If hiking without little ones then there is an unofficial branch of the trail that will take you up the face of the Table.  After passing WP Caves the trail will dip a little and loop around the face of the cliff.  The trail will climb up through a small break in the mountain side.  During inclement weather this section can be very slick and it can be a very long slide down to the bottom.  As you come up summit via the small ravine the top of the mountain will be off to your left.  The top of Table rock has a very broad summit that looks over to Old Speck.  You will be able to view RT 26 running through the valley between the two mountains.  The front of the cliff has a very abrupt drop off so keep an eye on the little ones.  Especially the sidekicks that have no fear.

After leaving the top of Table Rock you can return to the trailhead via the same pathway that you ascended the mountain or take the much easier path.  If you decide to take the easier path from WP Table Top Rock head towards WP Appalachian Trail Intersection the first initial few hundred yards can be tricky but at the steepest section there is a ladder made out of iron rungs hammered into the face of the boulder.  The rest of the trail from this point is a relaxing hike.  There are a few creek crossings that can be dangerous in the spring or when there has been rainfall.

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Wild River Trail – High Water Trail Loop

Trail:  Wild River Trail – High Water Trail Loop
Location: White Mountain National Forest Maine/Wild River Wilderness – Evan’s Notch
Difficulty: Low
GPS Track w/ Waypoints: Wild River Trail -High Water Trail Loop
Geocaches in the area: None in the immediate area

Update: 19SEP11  Wild River Campground and the road to the Campground is closed

This 6.4 mile loop trail is combination of the Wild River Trail and a small section of the High
Water Trail.  Starting at Wild River Campground (WP Wild River Trailhead) the trail crosses two streams and then follows the a winding path through the woods along the Wild River.  After about 2/10ths of a mile the winding trail opens up onto the old logging railroad which has been converted into the Wild River Trail.  At one area of the trail in the past there was a landslide that covered the original railbed.  In this area (WP Trail Narrows) the path is quite narrow.  This is one area that one needs to keep an eye on the little ones in this section because of the steep decline on one side of the trail that ends at the Wild River.  Between the trail intersection for the suspension bridge that leads to Moriah Brook Trail (WP Bridge Intersection) and WP Trail Narrow there is a clearing that use to be an old homestead that is full of raspberries plants.  Due to this a majority of the trail is wide open and has very easy elevation changes.  The only water crossing (WP Stream Crossing) is a shallow stream that offers an easy ford during the summer and fall, during the spring melt the crossing could be a little dangerous.

After passing  WP Stream Crossing the path will start to slowly raise in elevation, when the majority of the trees start to turn to mostly conifers the trail is getting close to WP Old

Spider Bridge washed out. WP Old Crossing

Crossing and WP River Crossing / Trail Intersection.  WP Old Crossing marks the location of an old spider bridge.  The spider bridge washed out a few years ago and there are no plans to replace the bridge.  This location is not an very good place to attempt a fording.  WP River Crossing / Trail Intersection has multiple sites that make for decent crossing upstream there even a few locations that a hiker could even wade across.  After crossing the Wild River the trail intersects with High Water Trail and Black Angel Trail (WP High Water Trail / Black Angel) the High Water Trail continues upstream and downstream along the river.  Following the High Water Trail downstream the trail will head back to the trailhead.

High Water Trail after crossing the Wild River

This section of the High Water Trail has not been maintained as well the Wild River Trail.  The blazes have not been updated in a while and there are a few wind falls that haven’t been cleared off of the trail.  During the fall if there hasn’t been a lot of traffic on the trail it can be hard to follow especially in the beech groves where deep leaf cover can hide the trail.  If hiking with small kids you might want to return to the trail head via Wild River Trail instead of High Water Trail.  There are a few areas with steep terrain and muddy sections that might be tricky with smaller kids that are not in a kid carrier.

At WP Ravine Crossing the trail descends sharply to a stream crossing.  The trail has a few narrow switch backs where foot placement should be considered carefully especially if the sidekick is enjoying the scenery and shifting his weight.  After the stream crossing the trail immediately heads back up onto the hillside and follows the side of the incline.  Once reaching WP Ridgeline extra care should be taken especially if the sidekicks are following along on the trail.  The path follows the ridgeline between the WP Ridgeline and WP Moriah Brook Crossing one side of the path has an abrupt descent to the river below that one needs to maintain awareness of.

Old Suspension bridge crossing Wild River.

After reaching WP HWT / MBT Crossing the trail terrain difficulty reduces and opens up a little.  The trail will follow the river for most of the remain duration of this section of the High Water Trail.  At WP Trail Intersection with Bridge the High Water Trail continues downstream and a side trail branches off to cross the Wild River at the suspension bridge and meets back up with Wild River Trail.  The rest of the trail follows the Wild River Trail back to the Wild River Campground and the trailhead.

There were moose and deer tracks along with droppings all along the trail.  Some of them were quite fresh.  I was hoping that we would spot one but the sidekick decided he was going to spend most of the hike chattering at the birds.  He has become a big fan of downhill descents because he gets a extra bouncy ride.

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