December 5, 2015.
No theme of threes this week as I head up for the long drive to York Pond which is north of Berlin. This is the spot I was going to hike three hikes ago but just didn't feel like the long drive that day. The plan is a loop hike heading up towards Unknown Pond and depending on the conditions I'll see which way I come back as there are a couple of trails to complete the loop.
Making my way to York Pond Road and just outside of Berlin along Route 110 and a painting looking view of the area I'll be hiking in today. Rogers Ledge is in the center which is just below one of the junctions on the trail I am taking. The trail, Mill Brook Trail, is located behind Deer Ridge in the back left side of the picture.
Fifteen minutes later and I am at the Berlin Fish Hatchery where Mill Brook Trail is located behind the hatchery's office building. Right next to where I parked is a pool loaded with some of the biggest trout I have ever seen. Following the signs that lead out behind the complex and I reach the edge of the woods where the trail begins.
Heading up and the trail is pretty flat and scenic. To the left is NOT the namesake for the trail, Cold Brook. Where the hell is Mill Brook? Why is it not Cold Brook Trail? Looking at my old AMC map I soon figure it out. Mill Brook Trail used to go all the way to Stark to Mill Brook Rd where Mill Brook parallels. The upper portion of the trail above Kilkenny Ridge Trail was abandoned due to beaver flooding. Mystery solved! Just a short ways up and the snow line begins. Strange winter we are having with the cold and warm spells. Get a little snow in the mountains and then it melts bringing back fall like conditions.
The trail is a gentle climb up through the valley as the higher in elevation it goes so does the snow cover. Not enough to warrant traction but enough to cover everything and combined with the sun it makes for a great day in the woods. The only other tracks out here are a bobcat's which is using the trail as his personal highway.
The trip up to Kilkenny Ridge Trail goes by quickly as I reach the junction in less than two hours. The remoteness out here is perfect for me as there is no one out here. No tracks coming from the north along Kilkenny Ridge Trail. A left turn for me on Kilkenny Ridge Trail as I head south towards Unknown Pond. Across a small brook and a huge erratic with some trees growing on top of it is beside the trail.
Another local resident has been making tracks along the trail as the very rarely seen snowshoe rabbit footprints are the only evidence of his existence. Some more great woods along Kilkenny Ridge Trail as I get closer to Kilback Pond.
Kilback Pond is just twenty minutes up the trail from the junction with Mill Brook Trail and worth a visit just on its own. Just as peaceful and quiet as the rest of the woods out here. At the far end of the pond I have read the bog bridge crossing can sometimes be flooded and arriving there thankfully it is not. The only obstacle is a single blowdown blocking the entrance.
On the other side the trail begins a moderate climb up to the height of land just below Unknown Pond Peak. Did I mention the solitude out here? About halfway up a quick break for some food and water. Before I know it the 2.1 mile jaunt along the Kilkenny Ridge Trail is over and I am at the junction with the Unknown Pond Trail.
A short detour down to the shore of Unknown Pond and a view across the frozen water to The Horn. I had a decision to continue on Kilkenny Ridge Trail to get the portion between here and Mt Cabot and then onto Terrace Mt or turn left onto Unknown Pond Trail to return back to York Pond Road. Knowing that there is a tricky spot getting to The Horn and with the snow cover I felt it would be prudent to save that section for another day. So a left it is and a detour along the spur to check out the Unknown Pond tentsite.
There are five sites along with a privy and looks like a perfect spot to hang out someday. There are still some trails in this area that I need to finish so maybe I'll incorporate this spot into my itinerary. Back to Unknown Pond Trail and the sun comes out again as I head down into the valley paralleling Unknown Pond Brook. An open spot as I am descending affords a view of the Northern Presi's while I get dripped on from the melting snow off the trees. One of the other reasons I didn't continue south on Kilkenny Ridge Trail was the clouds up at that elevation where I was. The winds were blowing pretty good up high as I watched the clouds open and swallow Mt Weeks from this vantage point.
Down below and everything looks more spring like with the sun out and snow melting. One small stream reminds me of the spring melting season. Even this trail has seen no traffic today and the hopes of another NPD begin to enter my head.
Down lower and I re-reach the snow line continuing through the great woods that I have become to love about this area. Thank You redlining! If I hadn't undertaken this project I never would have made it to some of these places that make this whole adventure so special. In less than two hours from the tentsites and I am at the southern trailhead for Unknown Pond Trail and all that is left is the two mile roadwalk along York Pond Road to where I parked.
I remember my only other trip up this road back when I was pursuing the 48 and there was a good view across York Pond to Madison and Adams. Reaching that spot and the skies are perfect for the view today. The road winds around York Pond and on the other side is another building for the Fish and Game where there are moose jaws hanging on a clothes line. I wish someone had been there so I could have stopped to see what that was all about.
Back at the trout pool and after a few more shots of the big suckers it is time to leave. A few more trips are left up in this area and I can't wait to come back. Even with the roadwalk I still saw no one all day which makes it that much more special.
Final numbers: 11.1 miles, 6 hours and 10 minutes.
Redline Miles: 9, Total to Date: 1031.0