West and East Rattlesnake Mountain

December 9, 2012.

The goal today is to complete the whole array of trails on the Rattlesnakes located in Holderness on the shore of Squam Lake. The only problem is it will encounter a lot of out and backs in order to complete all the trails in one trip.

Didn't leave the house until around 7ish this morning and a good thing because as I was approaching Exit 22 in Sanbornton there was an accident involving a camper and truck. There was evidence of black ice on that section of highway as it sweeps around to the right. Noticed it was a little slippery in Bedford when a truck coming up the on ramp onto the highway started fishtailing as he accelerated. Sometimes it pays to be running late. Parked in the lot off of Route 113 across the street from the Mt. Percival parking lot and headed down the road the short distance to the beginning of the trail by 8:25. Immediately the Undercut Trail goes through some recently logged sections and the trail goes through some young growth and a few blow downs.


A refreshing walk in the woods with constant reminders that you are not too far from civilization as I come out to the end of the trail onto Pinehurst Road for the first time today. Turning back to meet up with Ramsey Trail and turning right onto it the climb up towards West Rattlesnake begins. It is more reminiscent of the Whites being steep and rocky in places. Ledges start to appear as I get closer to the top and just below the summit there is an area with great views out onto Squam Lake and Squam Ridge.



Wandering around this flat area before the summit I finally find the right path that leads to the true summit. Heading up and the ledge that is visible from the road is now in front of me and a wide open view of Squam Lake.



Two trails and one summit down so far. Down the Pasture Trail to once again turn back around once I reach Pinehurst Road. This trail is an awesome walk through the woods and I wish more trails were like these, well maintained, blazed and not rough on the legs. Coming back up form Pinehurst Road I reach the junction where I have several options. Take the Col Trail, East Rattlesnake Trail, or Five Finger Point Trail. I opt for the Col Trail first as I prefer to get it done now rather than later. It at first meanders along a brook and then rather steeply begins the climb up to Ridge Trail. Turning right onto Ridge and then shortly turning left and start the descent down along an old logging road. Passing a pond near the bottom it comes out on a dirt road that leads to Route 113. Turning back to retrace my path all the way back to the five way junction and now I head out to Five Finger Point which is as close to being an island as one can get. The land bridge between the water is about 300 feet as the rest of the point is surrounded on all sides. Making it out to a viewpoint is a good shot of both Rattlesnakes.

Continuing on the trail and taking a spur path I reach the ledgey shore of Squam Lake and can understand where the movie "On Golden Pond" probably got its name.


Viewing another point from this spot I make the decision that once there I am going to head out to it to see if there are any views. Passing a small secluded beach located between these two points and I reach the bend where the trail passes the un-trailed point and head into the brush. Most of the way is easy pickings but near the end the brush gets thick and I eventually push my way through and get some good views. There are some rocks poking out of the water near shoreline and I wonder if these are the rocks that Norman and Billy crashed into in the movie. But after doing some research this scene was actually filmed out near Kimball Island.


Back to the trail and once there I catch a glimpse of a bird fluttering around along the trail. After a few minutes and several attempts of trying to get a picture of it I succeed. Now for the fun part, identifying the darned thing. Looking through every type of bird group for quite some time I am stumped as to what this bird is. Wrens, sparrows, terns nothing. Finally I choose the woodpecker family and be damned there it is, a female Downy Woodpecker. A little ways up and I hear an odd noise for this time of year and thought maybe I was close to a road. Then through the trees coming around the straight between Five Finger Point and Hoag Island are two fishermen in a boat, and I thought I was the crazy one for hiking at this time of year.


Coming up on where the trail rejoins itself and I am amazed at the size of the pine tree at the intersection. I wrap my arms around it an estimate it is about 20 feet in circumference, this is just one of many huge trees I would see on this hike today. Amazing they have survived this long and dream of one day finding one with the Kings Broad Arrow mark from the 1700's.


Once again returning to the five trail junction for the last time and time to head up East Rattlesnake Trail to East Rattlesnake. A huge glacial erratic on the way up and a shining lake shot at the top of East Rattlesnake.


One last down and up on the same trail, Butterworth Trail, and then back over to West Rattlesnake via the Ridge Trail. Coming up upon West Rattlesnake I can see smoke over the horizon and thought it was odd. As I reach the crest I see the source and came so close to going over and saying something to the two idiots. They had a fire going up on the ledge and there is a huge sign at the top spelling out the rules, maybe they couldn't read, who knows, but I bit my tongue as I passed by.

Last leg of the journey and last trail of the day, Old Bridle Path. A quick trip down and back to the car. A pretty neat area with lots of interesting scenery on some great trails.

Epilogue: 12/29/2012, I just found out that my brother was literally across the street in the opposite parking lot hiking Webster, Morgan and Percival. What are the odds?

Final Numbers: 11.6 miles, 6 hours and 25 minutes.

Redline Miles: 7.9, Total to Date: 255.5