July 11, 2015.
Two separate hikes very close to each other as I return to the Evans Notch area in Maine. This area has a little bit of everything and to top it off the crowds are almost non-existent. First up is a return to Blueberry Mt to get the two other trails on this mountain, White Cairn Trail and Stone House Trail.
After the customary three hour drive I am at the gate on Stone House Road and walking to the trailhead just after seven. Five minutes up the road and a left turn onto White Cairn Trail as it enters the woods in a grassy section. At the first brook crossing there is some wise advice given by a sign on the bridge.
The trail is pretty mild in the beginning and then soon the climb begins. Getting steeper as it goes it gets you up to the first views pretty quickly. The first peek is across the notch to South Baldface. A short distance later where the ledges appear are one of my favorite fruits...blueberries!
Unfortunately they are a distraction today as I can not resist stopping repeatedly for the tasty treats. This mountain is named Blueberry Mt after all so after a while I force myself to move along and get back to the task at hand. Reaching another set of ledges and my next destination after this hike is across the way, Deer Hill and Little Deer Hill. Of course ledges usually mean more, yes, blueberries!
Even with the repeated blueberry breaks I make it to the Blueberry Ridge Trail in just a little over an hour. A short ways up and I take the more scenic Outlook Loop to Stone House Trail. Another blueberry break at the Outlook and then I am at the Stone House Trail ready to head down. First through an evergreen forest as I descend and then into a deciduous green forest for the rest of the way.
Down in the flat section there is a distinct trail that turns left just before a bridge. I couldn't figure out what this was all about. Wasn't sure if the trail turned here or if it was a side trail as there was no sign here. Taking a chance I head down it and approaching what would be the end of this trail I was glad I took the chance.
That is Rattlesnake Pool and it comes complete with a small waterfall. I ended up taking a break and refilling my water here as I had some snacks. Finally leaving I make it back to Stone House Trail and not much farther down is another diversion except this time it is signed and an old woods road, Rattlesnake Flume. Crossing the bridge and there is a side herd path leading up beside the brook. I wanted to get to the top of the flume and hoped the woods road would lead up to it. Following it there was another old path, mostly grown in, leading off to the left. I head up a little ways and as it gets more grown in I decide to turn around. You can see the track on the GPS picture where the arrow is pointing to Rattlesnake Flume. Returning to the herd path and I follow the brook up a short way and I make it to the bottom of the flume.
I few minutes later and I am back at Stone House Road and part 1 of today's agenda is done. Next up is a lollipop loop of Shell Pond as the Shell Pond Trail starts right here on the other side of the dirt road. Looking to my right are the Baldfaces with a giant maple tree framing it. Shell Pond Trail leads out in the field of an old grassy airstrip.
Heading up the field it is a most beautiful day as I turn to take a pano shot with Mt Meader in the background.
To my left is the Outlook on Blueberry Mt. Ahead is, Honey we are moving!, one of the best spots to live in this area. Second only to the views from Randolph Hill Road in Randolph, NH.
As I get closer I can hear an annoying sound breaking the silence and can't quite figure out what it is. Reaching the edge of the field and the trail leads to the left into the most beautiful spot I have yet to see. This seals the deal on the house I just saw and I definitely want to move here. It is like something out of the south. The picture does not do it any justice as it is one of those scenes you need to see for yourself. It is a perfectly groomed open area with trees breaking up the openness and right behind it all is Rattlesnake Brook.
Oh and the annoying sound was the guy going around with a weed whacker trimming around all the trees. The sound no longer seems annoying after I see what he is doing and when he spots me he stops. I tell him he has the most perfect job in the most perfect spot. He tells me it really makes it easy coming to work when it is in a spot like this. I continue up the path and the idyllic spot eventually ends where the trail crosses the brook.
Shell Pond Trail becomes a woods road from the brook to the junction with Shell Pond Loop. At the junction the trail turns off to the left now an actual looking trail. It climbs easily finally reaching Deer Hill Road where I turn back around returning to the junction with Shell Pond Loop.
Shell Pond Loop circles around Shell Pond but never gets close to the shore. There are a couple of side paths leading down to the shoreline with the second one being the best. It comes complete with a bench and a view across the pond towards the Baldfaces and neighbors Eagle Crag and Mt Meader.
Continuing around the loop and before just before reaching the end I see the first people of the day as they are walking their dog along the loop. Back at the car the lot is full and the dirt road car lined down a bit with the overflow. After a quick snack it is time to move on to the next hike of the day, the Deer Hills.
Final numbers: 8.3 miles, 4 hours and 15 minutes.
Redline Miles: 6.7, Total to Date: 860.4
Back on Route 113 heading south and I turn onto what becomes Deer Hill Road reaching the trailhead a few miles up. Deer Hill is just over 1300' and Little Deer Hill is just over 1000' so this should be a fairly easy trek.
It's just before noon as I set out on Deer Hills Trail heading up the gentle slope. A quick ten minutes up the trail and I reach the spur for Deer Hill Spring.
The spur heads down through the woods then through an open new growth area before heading into the woods again. All this in two tenths of a mile until I reach the spring. It is the most original unusual spring I have ever seen. I'll let the picture and video do all the talking.
It was too pristine to take any water from so I can not report how good it tasted. Back up to the trail and at the next junction is Deer Hill By-Pass which is part of my return leg. A short ways up and the trail crosses some open ledges with views towards the south. Across the way is Pine Hill which has some trails in the area that I also need to do. Down in the valley is a flood control area on Colton Brook which will turn out to be next to Conant Trail (this trail leads out towards Pine Hill).
For the next ten minutes the trail pops in and out of the woods until reaching the ledge on Deer Hill where the trail makes a sharp left passing over the high point.
Heading down I hear voices as a bunch of young kids come up I assume from Cold Spring Campground. They ask if it is much farther to the summit and if there is any water there. I tell them it is just beyond that high spot behind me and there is no water. But there are plenty of blueberries for them to eat. They ask where and I point to the low bushes right beside them and they get all excited as they start picking through them. As I continue down there are more kids heading up. I run into a lone hiker who is heading up and he asks if it is much further and how are the views. I tell him it isn't far and then he blows me away with his next question as he asks if you can see Mt Washington. I tell him it is too low and facing in the wrong direction for Washington. He wonders why as he thought you could see Washington from the Baldfaces and I tell him the Baldfaces are across the street this is the trail to Deer Hill. Big oops there as I show him on the map where he is. Rather than turn around he continues up the trail and I make my way down. Within twenty minutes from leaving Deer Hill an opening can be seen through the trees as I reach Little Deer Hill.
This is one of those quirky little spots where four trails all converge. Deer Hills Trail comes in from the way I came and leaves to head down. Ledges Trail heads down to connect with Deer Hill By-Pass as does Frost Trail. Frost Trail is first up as I head down for the quick out and back. It is nothing but a short walk down through the woods to the By-Pass trail.
Heading down the Ledges Trail and I pause at the trail sign thinking about it's warning. Walking over to the ledge I contemplate whether to head down or not.
From behind I hear a voice and it is the guy who thought he was heading up to the Baldfaces. He thanks me for telling him to at least continue on to Deer Hill. We talk for a few minutes as I show him the Baldfaces across the way and he then starts to head down with me on the Ledges Trail and I let him know that it is advised not to descend this trail. He turns around and heads the other way as I make my way down the steep ledge. I reach the connector trail and take that down to Deer Hill By-Pass. The connector trail is short as it loops around connecting back up with the Ledges Trail at the base of a huge outcropping.
The Ledges Trail is just that a trail across one ledge after another ending at the By-Pass. Turning around and ascending the trail I just came down I make the left hand turn for the section of trail the Connector skips and it is an interesting little section. The trail skirts just under the overhang after the junction.
I reach the questionable section and stop to figure out which way to go until I see the blaze leading into the cracked ledge.
I maneuver through it which is a little cumbersome with the backpack and a few feet later I am back up where the Connector trail begins. Up and over the last ledge and I am on top of Little Deer Hill again and now heading down the rest of Deer Hills Trail. The trip down is uneventful as I can hear some of the kids from earlier off in the distance. Twenty minutes from leaving Little Deer Hill and I reach the border with Maine and NH where there is a marker right beside the trail.
Just beyond is the dam I need to cross for Cold River. On the other side are a bunch of the kids strewn about everywhere as they are planning on taking a dip onto the river. Passing by them I make my way to the right paralleling the river through the woods. A ten minute jaunt and I am at the Baldfaces parking lot and head back to the dam.
Turns out the kids I saw on Deer Hill were actually bussed in from somewhere as there ride was waiting for them at the Baldfaces parking lot located at the end of Deer Hill Connector. Back across the dam and one more trail to get before heading back. Leach Link Trail parallels the east side of Cold River all the way back up to Stone House Road. The same road I was on earlier this morning. It's a nice tramp through the woods with one minor up as the trail pulls away and above the river.
The trail reaches an old woods road and follows that out to the end where I turn around at Stone House Road. Stopping at the dam on the way back to get some water and snacks before the push out of here. I take off the shoes and socks to soak my feet off in the river and it helps to revive them. As I am rinsing off my legs I notice a piece of debris that does not come off and it's a dang tick. Only the second one I've ever seen hiking and both from this year. It comes off easily and soon I am off and take the Deer Hill By-Pass which is located just after the border marker. The beginning of the trail is flat and I think this is going to be a breeze until ten minutes later it turns off the wood road and starts climbing back up the side of Little Deer Hill.
At first it is not that bad but as it reaches the stone wall it gets steeper. I make it to the first junction with the Ledges Trail and the trail doesn't let up until up by Frost Trail. Curses for such a small hill having such a climb. Being the end of a long mileage day does not help either.
These exits, I know I say this all the time, always seem to take so long. Looking at the time stamps on the pictures and the reality is it isn't that bad. Ten minutes from the Frost Trail and I notice something off to my right in the woods. Large red markings on the trees. Not just a couple but a bunch like someone went on a paint rampage and it is quite fresh as I can smell the paint from the trail. I am tired but I have to check this out.
Turns out it is boundary marking for the forest and even more curious is something I spied off behind this area.
A tent platform! At least that is what I think it is but what a strange spot for it to be. I can't find any info on it what so ever. But there it is in the middle of the woods although it is slowly deteriorating and located just a few minutes away from the junction with Deer Hills Trail.
At the junction with Deer Hills Trail and it is all downhill from here to the road. One stop along the way at a very large maple tree and then quickly back to the car and the long three hour ride home. Evens Notch continues to not disappoint me.
Final numbers: 9.6 miles, 5 hours and 20 minutes.
Redline Miles: 6.6, Total to Date: 867.0