Saturday, August 29, 2015

Paine Mountain * Scrag Mountain * Bear Hill: 8/29/2015

Brian was going to head into Vermont to hike on his own, but I threw out some other peaks that we could do, besides the ones he had planned. We then had a few hikes set in stone, so it would only be a matter of finding the appropriate trailhead parking areas and then the subsequent trails. I met Brian in Warner so we could pack all the gear in my car and head up I-89 for the long drive into Vermont.

Paine Mountain

Mileage: 5.75
Elevation gain: 1525 feet
Trails used: ATV roads, logging roads, Paine Mountain Trail.
Highlight(s): old apple orchards, hawk migration view area.

Brian was going off of information he had brought with him from the Green Mountain Club Dayhiker's Guide to Vermont (Fifth edition) that there were several spots where we could get some nice views of peaks in the area with a decent length hike in the woods. There were also supposed to be old growth apple orchards in the area and a shelter where people watch hawk migrations.

Paine Mountain is located in Northfield, Vermont. There are various ATV/snowmobile/old logging roads that dot the area so it was a bit of a chore to figure out exactly which trails/side trails to take, even though we did have the guidebook with a map of the area. A couple times we had to backtrack to find a different route towards the summit. Bonus: we encountered numerous spots with old growth apple orchards with not yet ripe crab apples but I managed to taste one and it wasn't too bad. There are no views from the wooded summit of Paine Mountain.

The junction of Barrows Road and Kingston Road. It was roughly a 0.3 mile road walk to this point from where we parked the car.

The trail starts off as ATV trails and goes through this meadow that is supposed to have good views of the Robinson Brook Valley but there was too much growth here to get many views. There was even a target set up for people to shoot it with BB's. 

Spotted Jewelweed was growing all along the old forest road.

The summit cairn and metal benchmark at the high point for Paine Mountain (elevation: 2411 feet). An ATV trail runs across the summit of Paine Mountain in both directions.

The dilapidated shelter that sits to the south of Paine Mountain. There was supposed to be views from here but the tree's probably have grown over the years, spoiling any real possibility of having the kind of views the guidebook stated.

What a bummer. The guidebook was wrong so we managed to get zero views from this hike. We headed south along the ridge back down to the ATV trail we hiked up, but still managed to go off of our original tracks so we had to do a short bushwhack to avoid private property. Once back at the car, it was a roughly 20 minute drive to our next destination. It goes to show you, what you read might not be how things are when hiking.

Scrag Mountain

Mileage: 4.35
Elevation gain: 1480 feet
Trails used: Scrag Forest Trail. 
Highlight(s): former fire tower peak, views from summit and lower summit along ridge, waterfall.

Our second hike of the day was pretty close to the first hike, so roughly about a 15 to 20 minute drive. The only issue would be finding out exactly where Bowen Road was and where exactly the trail started, as I was going off of rough information online. The only report I could find on this was about a snowshoe hike up the mountain. Eventually, we found Bowen Road and then the logging landing where the road continues for a ways in, but its better to park and then hike.

Scrag Mountain is located in Waitsfield, Vermont. The Scrag Forest Trail heads up towards the summit of Scrag Mountain where the remains of the old fire tower include the four cement footings and the fire wardens cabin, which is boarded up and closed. There are nice views from the summit of Scrag Mountain, as well as the ledges along the ridge heading south.

Scrag Mountain History

The Scrag Forest Trail starts at the end of Bowen Road on an old forest/logging road.

Most of the elevation gain is in the middle sections of the Scrag Forest Trail, where it was very rocky and could possibly be very wet during rainy seasons.

A beaver pond that sits at an elevation of about 2300 feet. Due to the lack of any significant rain the last few weeks, the water was at a low level.

A nice birch glade section with ferns galore taken from along the Scrag Forest Trail.

The old fire warden's cabin that sits just below the summit of Scrag Mountain.

The last push towards the summit of Scrag Mountain. Seeing this would hopefully mean we would get some decent views from the summit area of Scrag Mountain.

A brief glimpse looking west of the Sugarbush Ski Area on Mount Abraham from the summit area of Scrag Mountain. 

The hidden register on the summit of Scrag Mountain (elevation: 2911 feet).

The views from the summit of Scrag Mountain looking west towards Spruce Mountain, Signal Mountain, Butterfield Mountain and Knox Mountain. Paine Mountain is in the foreground.

The old cement footings for the fire tower that once stood on the summit of Scrag Mountain.

The views from the northern ledges of Scrag Mountain looking towards Mount Abraham and Mount Ellen and the Castlerock-Sugarbush Ski Area.

The views from the northern ledges of Scrag Mountain looking towards Mount Grant, Mount Cleveland, and Breadloaf Mountain.

There were several different views looking north and south from the northern ledges of Scrag Mountain but there was just enough tree cover to block good views.

We took the short spur path to this waterfall that wasn't much of a spectacle today due to the low water and lack of rain.

I had planned to continue on the ridge over to Burnt Mountain-North Peak but due to the time of day, we figured it would take awhile as the bushwhack would be roughly a 1.5 mile trek or more through unknown woods. I had heard the ridge walk was nice but we can save it for a nice fall day when the vegetation is lower. So we hopped in the car for the long drive home. Along the way, we passed several bike races which slowed us down considerably.

Bear Hill

Mileage: none.
Elevation gain: none, unless you count the fire tower stairs.
Trails used: none. 
Highlight(s): fire tower on the summit of Bear Hill with 360 degree views.

While on the way home, we figured we could get in one last short hike before we got really tired and hungry so Brian looked through the Vermont Gazetteer. We noticed a state park right off of I89 so a quick google search told us that there was a fire tower on this small hill and better yet, we could drive to the summit. This was the easiest hike of the day, if you could call it a hike.

Bear Hill is located in Brookfield, Vermont and also in Allis State Park. There is a campground just below the summit of Bear Hill, but the main draw is the fire tower which is open for people to climb up and enjoy the 360 degree views. There is also a large stone pavilion near the fire tower that holds up to 100 complete with grills, a fireplace and electricity.

Allis State Park Map

Allis State Park Trail Map

The fire tower on Bear Hill (elevation:  2020 feet). It was a long walk up to the cab on the top, but the views was well worth it.

Inside the fire tower, on all four sides were the different mountains laid out for you to pick out in the distance. You don't see that often with fire towers.

The views looking north from the fire tower on Bear Hill of Camels Hump, Mount Mansfield, the Worchester Range and Paine Mountain.

The views looking north from the fire tower on Bear Hill of Spruce Mountain and Signal Mountain. 

The list of peaks to the west that you can see from the Bear Hill fire tower.

The views looking west from the fire tower on Bear Hill of Camels Hump, Ethan Allen Mountain, Appalachian Gap, Mount Ellen, Mount Abraham, Lincoln Gap and Rice Mountain.

The views looking west from the fire tower on Bear Hill of Rice Mountain, Adams Mountain, and Mount Wilson.

The list of peaks to the south that you can see from the Bear Hill fire tower.

The views looking south from the fire tower on Bear Hill of Killington Peak, Pico Peak, and Rochester Mountain.

The views looking south from the fire tower on Bear Hill of Mount Ascutney.

The list of peaks to the east that you can see from the Bear Hill fire tower.

The views looking east from the fire tower on Bear Hill of Mount Moosilaukee and Mount Cube in New Hampshire.

While the hike of Paine Mountain was not what we had hoped, it still was a decent walk in the woods. Scrag Mountain and the fire tower on Bear Hill definitely made up for it though. The views were nice and while it was still a bit hazy we could see quite a ways in Vermont and New Hampshire. The weather managed to stay nice as well, albeit a bit on the warm side but not too bad. The bugs weren't an issue either so overall it was a nice set of hikes.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Middle Mountain * Peaked Mountain: 8/22/2015

Mileage: 4.7
Elevation gain: 1755 feet
Trails used: Pudding Pond Trail, Middle Mountain Trail, Peaked Mountain - Middle Mountain Connector Trail.
Highlight(s): limited views from the summits of Middle Mountain and Peaked Mountain.

Looking for something to do for Saturday, I was too tired to do anything strenuous so I figured we could do north and then possibly do some shopping while we were there. North Conway fits that bill perfectly; a good mix of places to hike followed by retail therapy at the outlets. It was going to be sunny outside, with some heat and humidity mixed in for this hike, but still pleasant enough for a hike.

Middle Mountain and Peaked Mountain are located in North Conway, New Hampshire and in the Green Hills Preserve. Black Cap, which has the best views in the Green Hills preserve, and Cranmore Mountain are other peaks in the preserve. There are several view points from both Middle Mountain and Peaked Mountain, and several different trails can be taken to reach both summit areas.

Green Hills Preserve Map

Green Hills Preserve

Desi starting off on the gated Pudding Pond Trail off of Thompson Road. You reach the Middle Mountain Trail from the nearby parking area.

The Middle Mountain Trail cuts under the power line cut and heads into the woods. 

The first part of the Middle Mountain Trail was mellow and easy to follow. We could see evidence of mountain bikers using the various trails.

At the first trail junction for the Middle Mountain Trail and Black Cap Connector Trail. We would stay straight (right) to head towards Middle Mountain.

It got steady and steep in several spots. Add the heat and humidity and it was tough hiking through this section of the Middle Mountain Trail.

At the junction for the Middle Mountain Trail and Peaked Mountain - Middle Mountain Connector Trail. We decided to do Middle Mountain first, and then Peaked Mountain if we had any energy left over.

The last little summit push up the ledges below Middle Mountain.

Desi on the summit of Middle Mountain (elevation: 1857 feet). There are some pitch pine groves on the summit area of Middle Mountain.

Looking up towards Black Cap, which is the highest peak in the Green Hills Preserve and has the best views of the entire preserve.

The views from the summit of Middle Mountain of South Moat, Middle Moat and North Moat Mountain which is a nice hike itself.

The views from the summit of Middle Mountain of Mount Chocorua and the Three Sisters, White Ledge, Mount Whiteface and Mount Passaconaway.

The views from the summit of Middle Mountain of White Horse Ledge and Cathedral Ledge, which are popular rock climbing areas. Mount Carrigain, Mount Nancy and Little Attitash dominate the views in the background.

Desi heading down off the summit area of Middle Mountain through a cool pine grove. 

We headed back down to the Peaked Mountain-Middle Mountain Connector Trail and decided to head up to the summit of Peaked Mountain to check out the views.

Almost to the summit of Peaked Mountain, we had another nice hike through pines of various kinds with ledges to hike up.

The summit of Peaked Mountain (elevation: 1739 feet). There were two people up here sitting in the sun enjoying the breeze and views.

The view of Middle Mountain from the summit of Peaked Mountain. The views from this summit were similar to the views on Middle Mountain.