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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Deuter Kid Comfort II – Product Review

Product Review: Deuter Kid Comfort II (2010 edition)

For the hikes with the little one I have been using the Deuter Kid Comfort II.  For the most part I have been quite pleased with our choice.  When my wife and I started shopping for a kid carrier we narrowed our choices down to the Kelty FC series and the Deuter Kid Comfort series.  We eventually choose the Deuter Kid Comfort II due to the size and fit.

The Deuter Kid Comfort II has the standard load lifters, side stability strap adjustments on the hip belt, and sternum strap that can be expected to be on a quality backpack.  Also included are sizing levels to increase or decrease the distance between the waist belt and the shoulder straps.  These adjustments can be done easily which comes in handy when switching between people of different body sizes.  The little one is held in place with shoulder straps that also secure the hips in place just like most carseats.  These straps can be adjusted as the child grows to ensure a snug and safe fit.  One thing that I like about the hip belt is the ease that you can tighten or loosen the belt on the fly.

When it comes to storage the Kid Comfort II has plenty.  Not all of the pockets are easily accessible for the wearer.  There is a large storage section directly under the section that the little sits.  On the back there is a zip pocket with a key hook, and three open pockets, one mesh pocket on side of the pack and one on the back directly behind the zip pocket.  There is also a pocket on the hip belt large enough to carry a gps or a couple of cliff bars.  The hip belt pocket is really the only pocket that can be accessed when wearing the carrier.  I would preferred some side pockets to be lower on the side of the pack but it might have interfered with the leg from of the passenger.

You can purchase a few accessories to add to your and little ones comfort.  Deuter has a water bladder that is designed to fit in the area provided for hydration bladders.  The traditional CamelBak bladder that you might be familiar with will work but can not be inserted completely filled.  One accessory I believe is essential is the sun cover.  It also comes with a rain shield that is placed over the sun cover to provide some protection in case it starts to rain.  The shade provided is acceptable,  I would have been happier if there was more material on the side or if there was a curtain on the front that would come down.  On a couple of my hikes when I was walking with sun in front of me the little one was hit with the full force of the sun.

I have been very happy with this kid carrier.  With the addition of the sunshield and mosquito netting we have been been able to hike in comfort.  Often the sidekick will nap while I do all the hard work.

There are two items that I wish was different.  One being the already mentioned pocket location.  The second is the type of zippers they used for the zip pocket and the storage area.  They are not very good, difficult to zip and unzip.  They really can not be managed with just one hand.  Often when accessing the pockets I am also juggling the sidekick and that usually ends with a high level of frustration.  From what I have read on the Deuter website they have changed some of the designs for the 2011 edition.  Hopefully they addressed this.

Update: I have found another blogger’s review of this pack. From his blog it seems that he is located in a part of USA where the terrain is much different then mine. So check out his opinions.

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Blueberry Ridge – Bickford Brook Trail

Trail:  Blueberry Ridge – Bickford Brook Trail
Location: White Mountain National Forest Maine/Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness – Evans Notch
Difficulty: Moderate
GPS Track w/ Waypoints: Blueberry Ridge – Bickford Brook Trail
Geocaches in the area: GC142RB, GC1XFXK, GC13WKF

The Blueberry Ridge/Bickford Brook Trail is an interesting trail.  If you are not prepared for this 7.8 mile loop hike it may catch you off guard.  Depending on the direction that you take at WP Trail Divide it can be a gradual climb or a steep climb.  At WP Trail Divide I headed down the Blueberry Ridge Trail, almost immediately the trail heads down hill towards Bickford Brook.  The brook crossing (WP Bickford Brook Crossing) is an easy fording location.  There is a small trail system called the Bickford Slides Loop at the brook crossing that will head upstream.  There are some great slides in the brook system just be careful of the 50ft falls just down stream of the brook crossing.

After crossing the brook the trail immediately starts heading up.  In less then 7/10ths of a mile the trail gains close to 950ft of elevation.  The trail is very well maintained for the most part with stones setup as steps there are a few steep rock faces that can be slick when wet or icy.  As you climb this section make sure that you take time to look over your shoulder and watch the view gradually fold out behind you.  Just before reaching the first peak (Blueberry Mtn) on this loop there is another trail intersection (WP Trail Intersection) with the White Cairn Trail.  After passing this intersection there is an other intersection that has a small loop off of the main trail.  Called Lookout Loop it adds about .2 miles to the total hike but has a ridge that offers a great view of the valley.

Once the loop returns to the Blueberry Ridge Trail starts to head up hill again following the crest of the ridge towards Ames Mtn  There are plenty of areas to take a lunch break or just enjoy the view.  Along the trail we saw plenty of animal signs, especially moose and deer tracks.  For plants you will see plenty of evidence of how this trail got its name.  Thousands of blueberry bushes all along the trail are interspersed with Lady Slippers both pink and white.

When the Blueberry Ridge Trail meets up with the Bickford Brook Trail again (WP Trail Intersection) the form of the trail changes.  Most of Bickford Brook Trail is an old access road for the Fire Tower that use to be on Speckled Mountain.  For the majority of the rest of the hike the trail will be a gradual descent over the next 3.8 miles as you head back to the Brickett Place.  As you head back there will be another intersection (WP TrailIntersection) where Spruce Hill Trail meets Bickford Brook Trail.  For the duration of this section (between WP Intersection and WP TrailIntersection) the trail is gradual decline.  Because it follows the old road bed when the terrain begins to get steep it will usually continue on in a series of switch backs.  Because of these switch backs there are a few creek crossings that can be a bit interesting if hiking with smaller children or during times of high water.

Summary –  This loop hike is best suited for grade school or older kids unless there is a child carrier along and an adult in shape to be able to handle the steeper sections of the Blueberry Ridge section of the loop.  If you hike in clockwise direction the difficulty of the trail goes down due that fact that elevation incline is spread over a couple of miles with switch backs easing the passage.  Once reaching Ames Mtn the majority of the trail will be a steady decline with only the very steep decline of Blueberry Ridge Trail after passing Blueberry Mtn.  The trail head at Brickett Place has a restroom and once the the renovations on the building are complete there will be a visitor center in the old Brickett Building.  There is a hand pump across the road at the Cold River Campground for fresh water.




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Highwater Trail

Trail:  Highwater Trail
Location: White Mountain National Forest Maine – Evans Notch
Difficulty: Low
GPS Track w/ Waypoints: HighWaterTrail.gpx
Geocaches in the area:  GCGE1EGCA173

UPDATE:  Thanks to our visit from Tropical Storm/Hurricane Irene the suspension bridge is gone.  If the water is low then a crossing in this area is pretty easy.





The Highwater Trail is a fairly easy trail.  I recently hiked the first 2.3 miles of the trail from the trail head to the washed out bridge on Fire Road 52 (WP FR52) Narrow in spots it is mostly a single lane track through the woods but occasionally opening up enough to allow side by side hikers.  For the most part the path covers mildly sloping terrain with only a few steep locations that require care at trail erosion locations, and stream crossings.

When you first enter the trail (yellow blazes), after crossing the suspension bridge that spans the Wild River, the path hugs the river as you travel upstream.  If you keep an eye out to the right side of the path there will be breaks in the tree cover that indicate an old beaver pond that is starting to be filled in by time and the forest.  This is a can be a great location to find moose and deer but today they were else where.

The trail does split (WP SPLIT) at a Y intersection shorting after passing the beaver pond.  Continue up the right side of the fork and follow the yellow blazes.  If you continue to the right you will immediately run into a poorly maintained section of the trail.  After the split the trail trends up a gentle hill.  There are a few muddy spots and stream crossings in this area.  For about a mile you will be away from the river but eventually you will start a gradual decline until you reach the river again.  Here the trail will shortly widen a little and is a fairly easy walk until you reach the turn around spot.

Some things you might want to keep in mind if you have small ones with you on this trail.  At WP Washout the path has suffered some erosion and there is a few spots just before and after the Waypoint that has a small drop off edging the trail.  There is a great swimming hole just downstream of the suspension bridge that actually has a small sandy beach (during low water levels) with a large shallow section and small deep section.

Pictures of the Hike

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