Cedar Brook Trail

December 10, 2016.

Another chance to squeeze in some redlining before the weather shuts me out of the areas I have left. One of the problems with the way I did the list is that just about everything I have left are in areas where the forest roads close or places that won't see the snow melt until late May or early June. It is going to be a long winter and I know I'll be itching to get back out there long before the snow is gone.

I have the section of Cedar Notch Trail between Hancock Loop Trail and East Side Trail to do. Not a lengthy section, 4.8 miles, but in the middle of nowhere. A simple out and back with 2.5 miles to get to the beginning of what I need to do. So 14.6 miles total to get a 4.8 mile section of trail. Actually this is probably one of the easier pieces to pick up as there are other sections of trail further in. A good early start as I get to the hairpin turn on the Kancamagus just before seven and a little after the hour I am off on the trail. It's a pretty easy approach to make it to the junction of Cedar Brook Trail. For the most part the trail is straight and flat with the water crossings no issue this early in the season.


Within the hour I make it to the junction and make the left turn up Cedar Brook Trail. A few minutes up the trail and this time I see the old trail where it used to cross the North Fork. The reroute skips two of the three crossings along this part of the trail.


An hour and a half from starting and I reach the fork where Cedar Brook Trail takes off to the left and Hancock Loop Trail begins on the right. From here on it is all new territory. It's a pretty gradual climb up to the height of land where I have read it is quite wet and boggy. It takes just a half hour to reach the height of land and a sign is right at the Pemi Wilderness Boundary that I have never seen. I can see a return to this area when the snow is gone as there are at least three old logging camp sites on or near this trail.


Passing over the height of land and it is indeed wet as I make the long decent down to the East Side trail. There is also a fresh coat of snow on the trees and where the branches encroach on the trail I have to slow down to knock off the marshmallow fluffs off the trees.


At one of the brook crossings there is a possible logging camp, Site 24B, but I did not know this at the time nor noticed anything out of the ordinary when passing through. Around 2300' a section of the woods has a lot of young downed trees like someone had come through and pushed them all over.


Another fifteen minutes down the trail and Cedar Brook edges next to Cedar Brook Trail. I can only assume this is from when Irene came roaring through the area back in August of 2011. Passing by the eroded section and a look back up the brook and there is a pile of trees upstream marking the devastation from Irene.


A few more minutes down the trail and an open area off to my right. A few items are poking out of the snow where Logging Camp 24 once stood.


The trail continues the straight track down where the logging railroad use to be. It makes a long sweeping curve before another straight run prior to intersecting with the East Side Trail and the renamed Wilderness Trail. A short break here as I started to contemplate which way to go. The original plan was to return the way I came but I wasn't a fan of all the wet areas while coming down. I also didn't feel like reclimbing over 1400' back to the height of land. So I started to play the numbers game. It took almost five hours to get here and at a minimum another five to get back. Maybe a bit longer because of the long miles to get back to the high point. If I head down the East Side Trail it's about five miles and then another five-ish walking the Kancamagus Highway to the hairpin turn. A mental toss of the coin and the time would be about the same but the mileage would be longer. Besides I might get lucky and someone might offer me a ride.


Off down the East Side Trail I go knowing that for the most part it is flat. The last time I hiked this trail was back in October of 2013 when I did an overnight loop hike. Twenty minutes down the trail and I had forgotten about the Cedar Brook crossing. Luckily there was some rocks off to the left that made it hoppable. I didn't dilly dally since I had already explored quite a bit the last time I was here. In a short hour I reach the gated road where the Franconia Brook Tentsite is located.


Last time I was here the federal government was in a budget shutdown and the caretaker's site was empty except for his tent. Today it is void of the tent and waiting for the winter snow to leave.


The next section to Lincoln Woods went just as quick as I made it in an hour. A brief stop for some water and food then off for the long road walk back to the trailhead. I'd like to say it was shortened by a generous passerby but that would be a lie. Not entirely true as I reached the hairpin turn someone did pull over and ask if I needed a lift. But sadly I refused as I only had about four hundred feet of walking left. Time wise I made it back in about the same time that it would have taken via the return using the trails. Mileage wise it was about four miles longer. But I did not regret the decision as I got to see more woods under different conditions. Cedar Brook Trail is done...the long way!

Final numbers: 18.1 miles, 9 hours and 10 minutes.

Redline Miles: 4.8, Total to Date: 1290.7