Sunday, October 9, 2011

West Quarry Mountain (Belknap Range) via Clough Road and Quarry Trail October 2, 2011

West Quarry Mountain via Clough Road and Quarry Trail 10/2/11.

Total mileage: under 3 miles

Elevation gain:  don't know, not much!

Trailhead: Gilford NH via Alton Bay. Route 11 to 11A. Turn left off of Route 11A onto Glidden Road (there is an orchard at the end of this road).  Park where Glidden Road becomes dirt.

Lesson learned:  Never plan a hike in the pouring rain unless you really need to get somewhere!  It's no fun and not good for the trail. 

 Who doesn't love hiking the Belknaps?! The Belknap Range is a small mountain range of twelve peaks located in the lakes region of New Hampshire.

Several of the mountains in this range (none above 2400') offer breathtaking views of Lake Winnipesaukee and the White Mountains, and if you live on the seacoast or in the southern part of the state it is only an hour's drive to get there!

The most popular hike in this mountain range is to the summit of Mt. Major; thousands of visiters of all ages hike to Mt. Majors rocky top each year.  The summit's view of the lake and mountains is spectacular. That the range has several other equally wonderful peaks is not so well known.

The Belknap County Sportsmen's Association offers a patch if you hike to all twelve peaks in the Belknap Range.  Though the patch was created to encourage scouts to hike the range (Hidden Valley Boy Scout Camp is located nearby), anyone who summits all twelve mountains can also get the patch. See for more information.

Hiker patch for those who hike all twelve peaks in the Belknap Range
Quarry Mountain, a peak in this range, is an unimpressive 1894' above sea level. However it is part of the Belknap Range and a nice short hike, particularly if you are pressed for time or just want to get out into the woods for an hour. 

The weekend started and ended with rain. Lots of it.  I was dying to hike and try my new hiking boots (a newer, browner version of my current boot).  These boots fit my feet perfectly and are the best boots I've owned. Still, I felt I needed to try them out.

Rich and I drove to Gilford NH via Alton Bay. We turned left off of Route 11A onto Glidden Road (there is an orchard at the end of this road).  Where Glidden Road becomes dirt, we pulled off the road and parked. By this time it was pouring but we jumped out of the car to start our hike. Rich put his rain pants on. I did not. We headed up the dirt road which at some point becomes Clough Road. 

A small brook which ran under the road was swollen and ready to jump onto the road.  I did not count on the wetness of the tall grass and low branches heavy with rain.  My pants were soaked within ten minutes.

There is a cabled wire across the road at the turn south and a No Trespassing sign.  Much of the Belknap trails are on private land and owners are fine with hikers using the property provided they are respectful.  Just past the cabled wire was a large tree leaning across the road which did not affect us but would have stopped a vehicle.

About a mile up the road is a clearing with a road to the left. Always bear right or straight when following Clough Road to get to Quarry trail.  

Past the clearing we encountered a few blowdowns.  We could see the slope of Mt. Rand (another Belknap peak) through the trees to our right.  As we reached the height of land we looked to our left to see where the Quarry trail intersects Clough Road.  The trail is clearly marked.

Left of Clough Road this tree indicates the way to Quarry Mountain

Right on Clough Road the trail leads to Mt. Rand
 We took the left and almost immediately the trail was underwater. Some areas of the trail were big puddles; others had become a roaring brook!

Most of the trail was under water, some of it fast moving!
Less than a half mile from the road we came upon a pile of rocks and a heavy piece of metal with a note in plastic on top of the pile.  The note was put there by the Boy Scouts and contains a description of this and other pieces of equipment scattered about in this area.  A working quarry was here at one time (not too long ago) and some of items used remain. 

Not far from this area the trail splits. At the split is another Boy Scout note in plastic pinned to a tree. The note indicates that one of the trails is moderate; the other steep and rocky and both meet up again closer to the summit. Since it was so wet we decided to go with the moderate one but actually took the steep one!  Steep is relative and after a few wet scrambles we were back where the trails met and soon at the summit.

On the way to this wooded summit there were few opportunities for a view.
We could have continued on the Quarry trail less than a mile to get to East Quarry Mountain (easily followed path with summit sign), which is another viewless peak in an area that has seen some serious damage from logging.  Instead, we immediately turned around and headed back to the car.  By this time the water had entered our boots from the top and we longed for dry.  We got back in no time and changed into warm dry clothing.

Passed the test!
My boots passed the test though; they are fabulous. It took several days for them to dry out as the water came up over my boots.  Can't wait for the next hike!