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)
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.