April 16, 2016.
On to the second hike of the day which was supposed to be the first hike, Hall's Ledge Trail and Hutmen's Trail. The day is warming up quite nicely and already I have removed my thermals under my pants at the end of the Brook Path hike. Arriving to the first trailhead, Hutmen's Trail, and I make the decision to keep going north to the next trailhead, Hall's Ledge Trail, to park and do a clockwise loop. Besides the roadwalk is mostly downhill doing it this way.
Finding the hidden trail which is just before where Route 16 crosses the Ellis River I back up to a spot where I can safely park off the side of the road. Refueling with some food and then as I am heading out a different angle of Boott Spur and Mt Washington from where I am parked. Down the road and over the guard rail and the trailhead is down the banking unseen from the road.
I follow the arrow on the sign and the "trail" ends at a dead end in the picture below. Looking at the above picture and the trail is so obvious now right behind the sign. Paralleling the river for a short bit and then a short steep climb up out of the river ravine to a flat open meadow where I get a look at where I am heading to first, Hall's Ledge.
Walking across the meadow and I can hear the music of a chorus of peepers ahead. As I approach the small bog they slowly go silent with the ones on the far side still singing. I remember the first time I heard this sound as I was heading back from Mt Cabot. Just before the junction where Bunnell Notch Trail meets up with York Pond Trail I heard the sound off to my right. Heading up York Pond Trail I found a similar bog and the source of the sound.
As the trail makes a wide turn around the pond I start the ascent and can see a brook down to my right and reach a spot where I can see a potential cascade. Now the only problem was how to get down to it to check it out. The banking is wicked steep and footing doesn't look the best. I contemplate if the risk is worth the reward and tell me myself what the hell go for it. So very slowly I pick my way down testing each step to avoid slipping and falling. Thoughts start running through my head of what happens if I wipe out and hit my head. No one knows where I am and...stop thinking like that. Just take your time and all will end well. I make it to the bottom hanging onto every little tree, twig, stump and it was definitely worth it.
It is a fantastic little find on this no named brook as it passes by the spot I am standing and continues down the hill. Up higher I can see what might be the beginning of the cascade and decide I'll have to come back some day to check out the rest of this brook. Interestingly the 1969 Guide Book describes a path heading down to this brook valley to the cascade and then steeply climbing up the embankment to rejoin the trail.
Now I have to get back up the steep banking and back to the trail. I survey the banking looking for a better path than the one I came down. I am more interested in stuff to grab onto to keep from falling backwards or if I do slip I won't go far. I chose straight ahead and slowly pick my way up one careful step at a time. Back on the trail without incident and everything else seems easy in comparison. The climb continues through some great woods as I head through a large beech tree section. Amongst the younger trees there are some glorious larger trees. One being this stoic looking yellow birch that reached high into the sky.
I make it to a plateau where the trees have been damaged by I think an ice storm. A lot of the tops have been snapped but it also looks like this area gets hit by winds.
Making my way across the plateau the trail starts the ascent again this time giving way to the leafless trees to a spruce forest. Then I reach the dreaded remnants of winter as a stretch of trail is still covered in snow. Luckily it didn't warrant me putting on the microspikes but I was surprised there was still snow up at this low elevation.
A few minutes later and there is a clearing on the left complete with a picnic table. It is another angle on Boot Spur and Washington and a perfectly blue sky.
Using the picnic table as a way to get above the tree line there is a good look at Boott Spur and the Gulf of Slides. With the snow I can see where the name comes from. A little maneuvering and a great look into Huntington Ravine. Can't wait to go there and re-hike that again.
A couple more minutes up the trail and I reach the wide clearing of Hall's Ledge. Nice views across the way to the Doubleheads and Kearsarge North. Looking to the south there are many familiar peaks including the Moats, Passaconaway, Whiteface and even the Tripyramids.
From the picnic table on the trail is a series of old logging roads leading all the way to Carter Notch Road. Not far from where the trail turns right at a tee junction is a small depression with some stones surrounding it. It looks like an old cellar hole and after reaching the kiosk at the end of the trail it turns out this is the site of the Hall family.
Passing by a memorial plaque and further down is another cellar hole off to the right next to an open field. This belonged to the Johnson family.
Heading up the field at the junction and this old site came complete with it's own apple orchard. Down towards the end is another stone foundation which belonged to the Garland family. All this info was provided at the kiosk with some written history included. Should have photographed that portion but for some reason I didn't. Oh well I have to make it back up here again sometime to do the Bog Brook Trail and I'll do it then.
A short walk down Carter Notch Road to the Hutmen's Trail for my return to Route 16. The trail heads up an old farm road and passes by the remnants of an old cottage.
Past the camp there is a very distinct trail that leads left into the woods but has no markings. Not sure if this is the Hutmen's Trail I stop to check the guide book (one of the few times I actually brought the trail description) and confirm that is not the trail I want. But I will have to come back someday to see where it goes. The old logging road reaches a tee and turns left. A little up the road and I turn back for some unknown reason and I can see part of the Wildcats (C & B) and Carter Dome. In the winter time these roads are used for cross country skiing and are very well marked for the skiers at the intersections. But the hiking trail is poorly marked at these points and the trail description comes in handy again.
Soon enough the trail enters the woods at a right hand turn still coinciding with a ski trail. Off to the left must be some wetlands as the peepers are chiming away. The trail never gets near it but oddly as I past by they all go silent and I wonder what went close to the shore to silence them. One last junction where the ski trail diverges right and Hutmen's Trail is on the left.
Finally resembling a hiking trail I soon pass by the WMNF boundary, a small brook crossing and then the trail begins a very step descent down to the road. Taking it slow on the slippery leaves I make it down and can see the gray pavement and passing cars through the thick trees. It is a good sign as it means I am close to finish.
Popping out of the woods it is a right turn onto Route 16 and a small incline up before the descent down to where I parked. Luckily it is one of my shorter roadwalks at 1.2 miles and doesn't take any time to get back. A pleasant surprise for such a short couple of little trails and even throw in some history with the old cellar holes.
Final numbers: 8.5 miles, 4 hours and 55 minutes.
Redline Miles: 6.4, Total to Date: 1078.6