September 12, 2016.
Fourth Connecticut Lake Trail
Took the leisurely drive up Route 145 picking up Route 3 in Pittsburg and headed all the way up to the border with Canada for my next hike of the day (just got done doing the the missing section of Table Rock Trail in Dixville Notch). A little bit over an hour and I arrive at the small parking lot next to the border crossing where there is a camper parked here. I take a few minutes to have some snacks and while sitting there another car pulls up and they are hiking the trail also. What are the odds on a Monday of other hikers showing up this far north? I quickly get my gear together and head out ahead so I am not stuck following them.
The trail is located behind the Customs building so you walk parallel to the fenced in crossing. Across the road and there is the trail head. I guess I had visions of something different in regards to the border swath and the terrain up here. While it is a "cleared" swath it is quite overgrown for what I was expecting. Must be quite the chore trying to keep this open with all the undergrowth competing for a spot on the land. The terrain is another story. Again I had envisioned a fairly flat trail along the border but instead this is involves some climbing with a few short but steep pitches.
The first steep pitch is just a short ways in. Just above that first climb there is the first of many border markers I would find. Crossing back and forth between the two countries has never been easier.
A short ways up the trail and I can see an opening through the trees on the Canadian side. I had thought about not checking it out because who knows if there are ground sensors or cameras out here monitoring the border swath. In the end I reasoned they must be use to it and as long as I didn't stray too far over the border everything would be fine. Curiosity gets the better of me and I have to go see what is on the other side. An unmarked gravel road comes up the hill and ends here with a small manmade dam at a brook that leads back down the hill. Oddly this road does not show up on Google's maps so not sure what this is all about.
At the next climb a look into Canada to Mont Megantic which is a ring dike just like Pawtuckaway and the Ossipees.
As I continue up I begin to question if I missed the turn off into the woods. It seems longer than the description I read but the overgrown worn trail keeps going so I do as well. Up ahead is a guy and I wonder if it is the Border Patrol doing their thing up along here. I get closer to him and it's just an older tourist walking slowly up here with a cane. I pass by him as I notice a reassuring trail sign where the border swath bends to the right. Just ahead is where the trail turns into the woods and the trepidation I was feeling is gone.
It's a short trip through the woods as I make it to the lake shore. Lake is a loose term as this is so small it is more of a pond bordering on swamp. So this is where it all begins, the Connecticut River. From this small body of water begins the longest river in New England leading all the way to Long Island Sound. I'm not sure of the logic here as to why this is called the Fourth Connecticut Lake. If it is where the Connecticut River begins shouldn't it be the First Connecticut Lake? Then vice versa as the water leads south?
There is a loop that leads all the way around the lake so I head off CCW. Passing by one of the inlet streams the trail brings me out to the southern end where i get a better view. Across the way I can make out the older gentleman I passed earlier. Continuing around and I reach the outlet that is the Connecticut River. It's only about three to four feet wide here and nothing but a trickle as it passes through. It's a pretty cool feeling seeing the beginning of this mighty river.
Back at the loop junction I take a pano shot of the whole area. Quite low thanks to our dry weather this year.
Heading back and at the location where the odd sign was I figure why it is there. I spy a pile of rocks marking a property boundary and then notice a cut in the woods that could be mistaken for a trail.
Further down the trail I meet up again with the older guy and he is gingerly making his way down with the aid of his cane on the steep sections. I talk to him for a couple of seconds and then move on and make it back to the Customs building. Hike #1 is down for the Pittsburg trails in the Guide Book. Time to move on down the road to the next destination.
Final numbers: 2 miles, 1 hours and 15 minutes.
Redline Miles: 1.3, Total to Date: 1171.7
Falls in the River Trail
A short drive down Route 3 and right at the dam for the Second Connecticut Lake is the northern end of the Falls in the River Trail. This trail follows the Connecticut River south for 2.1 miles then exits at a spot on Route 3.
A short donut break and then off for the second hike in Pittsburg (third for the day) as the trail is located just south of the dam. A look at the lake shows just how low the water is due to our drought this year. A few minutes down the trail and at least the dam is letting enough water through that the Connecticut River is flowing at a good clip. Quite a difference in just nine miles of the size of the river from its humble beginnings.
The trail is fantastic as the footing is great and nearly flat. A few peeks here and there of the river as the trail winds along it. This part of the trail also shares its path with the Cohos Trail which begins on the Davis Path in Crawford Notch and ends at the Fourth Connecticut Lake Trail.
The trail leads through varied sections from woods to small open meadows.
Further down and the trail sidles up to the Connecticut River where it is as mellow as it probably gets. Back into the woods and then the beginning of the falls come into view.
It is fairly impressive set of falls as this section of the river resembles a small gorge and cascades down over a series of steps carved out of the granite base.
The trail leads along the river for a bit more before pulling away and heading out towards Route 3 right after the intersection with Moose Alley Trail. A roadwalk up Route 3 to where I parked and where the trail is the closest to the road I duck back into the woods for the final segment of trail to the dam. Down the road I head to Magalloway Road for the next adventure in Pittsburg.
Final numbers: 3.7 miles, 1 hours and 50 minutes.
Redline Miles: 2.1, Total to Date: 1173.8
Heading south on Route 3 and not far below the Second Connecticut Lake is Magalloway Road. A wide gravel logging road where the speed limit is not obeyed as I follow the directions that lead me to the trailhead for Magalloway Mt.
As I am getting ready to leave I here a vehicle coming up the dirt road. Rushing to get my gear so I can put some distance between myself and the new arrivals I wonder why this area isn't as desolate as it appears. Just as I am walking away it is a camper coming up the narrow Tower Road. It pulls up to me and lo and behold it is the older guy with the cane I met on Fourth Connecticut Lake Trail! "Hey, you stalking me?" is my question to him when he rolls down his window. We share a laugh as he asks if this is the trailhead for Magalloway. I confirm it is and he tells me its been years since he was up here and did it on horseback back then. Not doing it today as he just wanted to check it out and proceeded to turn around and leave as I head up the Coot Trail. The Coot Trail is the old Fire Warden's road up to the fire tower located at the top. Just a short ways up is Camp Magalloway, not sure who owns this or the back story on it.
The trail/road is steep up all the way with bypasses on the most eroded sections.
It is only eight tenths of a mile up and finally eases up where the Bobcat Trail comes in from the right. Thirty minutes from starting and I reach the summit clearing where the Fire Warden's Cabin and associated fire tower are. The cabin can be rented for overnights for a measly $65 a night during the season at Lake Francis State Park.
Heading over the cabin and I am looking for two side paths that are on my spreadsheet, Overlook Path and Spring Spur. Southeast of the cabin there is a path leading into the woods. It brings me to a small outlook with views all the way into Maine. The long range of West Kennebago is easily seen. Beyond that is East Kennebago with The Horns and West Peak of Bigelow Mt just visible in the distance. The Appalachian Trail leads over the Bigelows.
At a fork on this path are some trees marked in blue paint which on the AT usually means water. Following the path it leads to a dead end and there is no water here at all just a tree over blazed with blue paint. Not sure what this is all about. On the opposite side of the clearing I find the Overlook Path and head down. Not far down and there is another fork with no signage. Which way to go? I go with my gut and take the right one and it heads down in the correct direction.
Soon there is a small spot on the edge of the cliff where I get the first look at the rugged side of Magalloway. Down below is a talus field and looking towards Maine is Rump Mt with its ominous looking sharp drop off.
A bit further down and I reach the end of the trail where a small section of the earth juts out into the open air. There is a better look from here of the talus field that lays below.
Back up the trail and taking no chances of leaving any stragglers I take the other trail at the fork. It brings me back to the clearing just by the shed. Heading over to the tower for the real views as I drop my pack and climb the stairs up to the viewing platform. From up here I can get views back to the White Mts and make out the Presi's through the mild haze.
Even Carter Notch flanked by Carter Dome and the Wildcats is easily recognizable from here. Next to it are future hikes on Goose Eye, Mt Carlo and Mt Success.
Back down the tower and I pick up my pack and after checking out the generator building begin to head back down. I figured the first path with the blue blazing was the spring spur even though I saw no water. On the way back across the clearing towards the Coot Trail I notice a path beyond some scrub on my left. Wanting to make sure I did everything I check it out. According to the guidebook it is only supposed to be a tenth of mile down so it shouldn't take that long. The trail keeps going down the southwestern flank of the mountain. And down and sure seems like I already went the required one tenth but as the path continues so do I. Finally I find the small hole in the ground that is the spring and not sure I would take any water from this spot.
Back up and then at the junction I take the Bobcat Trail down to finish all the trails on Magalloway. It is a lot better path than the Coot Trail and not as steep. Down near the bottom the trail goes through a nice section where future maple tress line the path awaiting there turn to take over the forest.
A the end the trail pops out onto the road just below where I parked never seeing the sign when I drove in. Back down to Magalloway Road and a right turn on it to continue on to the next and last hike in this area, Garfield Falls Path. Not far down and I pull over to get a picture of Magalloway and the talus field. Plus a zoomed in shot of the fire tower.
Final numbers: 2.4 miles, 1 hours and 40 minutes.
Redline Miles: 1.9, Total to Date: 1175.7
About seven miles down Magalloway Road and several turns but the directions in the guide book are spot on as I reach the kiosk for Garfield Falls. This is last hike in Pittsburg I need for redlining in this area.
It is just a few minutes before five o'clock as I set off down the trail towards Garfield Falls. This will be short as the whole loop is just one mile. The trail is a short walk in the woods before the falls come into view high above on a banking. Down the log steps and I reach a spot where the falls are dead center in front of me.
At the bottom the falls take a right hand turn as it feeds out through a gorge like bottom. A steep log set of stairs leads down to the base of the river. A look back near a pool and the interesting character of this spot can be seen.
The path now parallels the East Branch Dead Diamond River which feeds into Dead Diamond River. This is the same river that I was following yesterday when I walked the road to Diamond Peaks. Which as the crow flies is just 9.5 miles to the south. Driving the ungated roads is about 69 miles as there is no direct way to get there due to the gated roads. But, if I had the magic Dartmouth key I am sure I could get there a lot quicker. A short climb up another ladder and I reach the clearing at the southern end of the trail. The grassy road leads right back to the kiosk completing the loop and my full day of driving and hiking in Pittsburg. Back out Magalloway Road to Route 3 and I had to stop to get a picture of this fixer upper that I saw earlier this morning. It is right across from Camp Otter Road and I figure by the next time I am up here, if I ever make it back, this will have fallen down. Oddly there is no for sale sign so who knows what this is all about.
Final numbers: 1 mile, 30 minutes.
Redline Miles: 1.0, Total to Date: 1176.7