November 8, 2015.
Late start today so looking for something on the short side to make it back for the Patriots game. Pine Mt seemed to be the perfect spot for today. It is located just northeast of the giants and yet curiously it is not one. Standing just a bit over 2400' it is dwarfed by it's nearest neighbor Mt Madison at 5367'. Maybe this peak was once as tall as the neighboring Presi's and got ground down by the glaciers back in the day. This will be an out and back hike with parking off the Dolly Copp Road and hiking all the way to Gorham and then back.
Arriving at the trailhead and while I am getting ready I look down at the ground and, CRAP!. Somebody has smashed a window recently. This road is traveled lightly and seeing this makes me question parking here. Unfortunately the only other option is to park over in Gorham and hike out and back from there. But I do not want to take the time to make that trip and besides I need to come back here to this spot to hike the Pine Link Trail so I'll just have to take my chances. On the other side of Dolly Copp Road is Pine Mt Road which leads up to the Horton Center. A summer camp run by the United Church of Christ. Some of Pine Mt Road is included in my redlining project as I head up to the junction for Ledge Trail.
A quick fifteen minutes up the road where curiously I meet a runner coming down the road. There were no other cars at the lot so I assume he might be the caretaker for the Horton Center. Incidentally he would be the only person I see during this hike. At the junction for the ledge trail and I turn right onto it. Much better now that I am in the woods and gently climbing up to unknown surprises. Walking along and there is a huge piece of rock that probably came off the side of Pine Mt. It is not smooth or rounded like most erratics. The trail begins to steepen and then breaks out of the trees onto a partially open ledge.
Looking behind to the direction I came from Madison's summit is in the clouds. Other than that it is a beautiful day with blue skies. Through the trees a glimpse of Carter Notch which is the first of many of that feature for today.
Just ahead and to my left is a jagged cliff and I ponder if the trail will head up onto it. Some scrambling as the trail climbs up beside the cliff face and then turns to break out on top like I hoped.
The ledge is smoothed not from the grinding of the glacier but more as if the glacial just plucked off a whole piece of the mountain explaining perhaps the large chunk I saw earlier down below. To the north are Randolph and Crescent Mts with Cabot just barely visible between the two in back. That area holds a lot of trails and brings back some good memories of redlining them all.
Back into the woods for the very short walk to the actual summit of Pine Mt where there once stood a fire tower. All that remains today are the footings. This marks the end of the Ledge Trail and Pine Mt Trail continues on from here to Gorham. Leaving the summit and the first of three side spurs to views spread out over a short distance. The first spur is called Angel View and the views are into Maine and across the valley to Moriah, Imp, North Carter and again Carter Notch.
Just down the trail and the next spur, Gorham View, affords a view down into Gorham of course! Up next is Chapel View which comes complete with its very own shelter. There is no mention of this in the guide book so I'm guessing this is for the Horton Center use only.
The trail then drops down into a very confusing junction as the trail signs don't quite match up to the trails on the map. There are five trails converging on this spot and for now I continue straight as that is the safest bet. Around the corner and there is a cable laying across the trail and I find this peculiarly odd. It is not the first time I have come across this but I have no idea where it comes from and where it goes. At least until I spy a building off to the left and go to investigate it. Turns out this is part of the Horton Center and the complex is quite large and in a great spot. At the time I did not know all these buildings existed up here even though the road is marked private and gated down below.
Back to the trail and it comes to the base of Chapel Rock where the cell tower lines come up from the valley. The mystery of that cut in the woods I have seen from Moriah and other vantage points is solved.
Following the boardwalk and it leads pass the Chapel Trail, not a redline trail, and heads down into the woods making it's way to Gorham. A great section of trail as it leads down through some hardwood forests at first. Then further down through a conifer section where the old growth is making room for the next generation of trees.
Reaching a forest road and not sure which way to turn I go with my gut to turn left and keep continuing downhill. The trail and road coincide all the way down to the power line and underground oil line cut. Straight ahead is Mt Hayes where I still have a part of the trail to do sometime. Here there are no markers on which way to go so I head straight across continuing on a road that eventually comes out above the gravel pit.
Not seeing any trail sign I keep heading down the road and then on the left I see the trailhead and looks like I took the wrong way somewhere. Not a big deal as I head up the correct way through the woods. Reaching the power cut and there are signs here pointing me up the power lines to where I came out of the woods and went straight. Funny thing is other than the snowmobile signs there is nothing here indicating which way to go for the hikers. Back at the junction where the trail turns off the road into the woods and I stop to have a fuel and water break. While standing there I notice the directional sign on the opposite side of the woods road pointing left. It's there in the picture but hard to discern.
Back up through the great woods especially one section of beech and birch trees. Then as I am on the return leg come across what I had read about but didn't notice on the way down. White Blazes! At some time this trail was part of the AT and once I find one more are easier to spot. I couldn't find when this was part of the AT but my best guess is when the AT used to come down off of Mt Hayes via the Mahoosuc Trail instead of the current Centennial Trail. So maybe, purely speculation on my part, Pine Link was also part of the AT at one time leading the thru hikers down from Madison. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for any evidence when I do that trail in the near future.
Further up I even find one that is still evident even though they tried to cover it with orange paint. Back to business and once back up to the top I make the diversion onto Chapel Rock Trail even though I don't have to. But looking at it from Chapel View earlier it looked quite interesting.
Up through the woods and then it breaks out onto the ledge that has a wooden cross and a large boulder that looks like an altar. To the right is an outcropping and I clamber up it for views to the north of the Crescent Range.
From up here there is even a peek at Washington and the Auto Road. Madison is finally out of the cloud that enveloped it earlier this morning.
Continuing on and I make it back to the five way junction and being confused I take the first trail on the right which brings me to Pine Mt Road in front of the main lodge. Turning left and I start down the road figuring my day is done and it's just a matter of following the road all the way down to Dolly Copp Road. That is until a couple hundred yards down the road I see a trail sign on the left.
Back into the woods to get this small piece between here and the five way junction. It was just a five minute diversion but better signage at the junction would have avoided it. Anyways back down to the road and returning to the parking lot all windows were intact. Let's hope I have the same luck when I come back to do Pine Link.
Final numbers: 8.8 miles, 4 hours and 30 minutes.
Redline Miles: 5, Total to Date: 1005.5