Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mt. Willard and Mt. Pemigewasset, October 20, 21, 2012

Mt. Willard via Mt. Willard trail (2,850) October 20, 2012, and Mt. Pemigewasset (2,557') via Indian Head trail October 21, 2012.

Both Mts. Willard and Pemigewasset are on the "52 with a View" list, a list I am not working on (but you may be).

Mt. Willard

Mileage:  3.2 miles RT

Elevation gain: 900'

Trailhead: I-93N to Route 3. Turn on to Route 302 and drive 10 miles to Crawford Depot (next to Highland Center).

Hiked with Rich and Mike. Mt. Willard has to be the most popular summit in Crawford Notch. If you have a few hours to kill, you can hike this mellow trail to fantastic views and get back to your car with time to spare.

Mt. Willard allows the novice hiker to feel victorious!  Easily climbed in any weather; the trail offers solid footing and is sheltered by trees.  We were volunteering at the Highland Center, which involves assisting visitors who come to Crawford Depot on the North Conway Scenic train.   When the train departed, we sprinted up Mt. Willard to burn off some energy before dinner. 

1.6 miles to beautiful views!
We've hike Willard dozens of times before; I think it was our first ever winter summit years ago.  When we rounded the first corner past the trail entrance, we were stopped by flooding.  Apparently Hurricane Irene's debris caused an alluvial fan at the base of the mountain.

We'd never seen flooding on the Mt. Willard trail!
We rock-hopped this area and poked around to pick up the trail.  Bushwhacking on Mt.Willard - who woulda thought!  Once we were past the water, ascending is gradual and wooded.  No views en route although Centennial Pool is cool and a lovely stop along the way.

In fact, going is so steady with little deviation in the trail, it temps the hiker to ask "how much longer?" - after all, it is only a 1.6 mile trail!  

But when the path levels out the spectacular view can be seen ahead.  

And what a view it is!

The summit is a rock ledge with views of Mts. Jackson, Webster and Willey.

Mt. Pemigewasset 

Mileage:  3.6 miles RT

Elevation gain: 1,522'

Trailhead:  The Indian Head Trail begins on the west side of US 3 south of
the Indian Head Resort at a small parking area, reached by a short gravel road marked with a Trailhead Parking sign (I-93 to exit 33 or 34).

This short hike also offers mad views for minimal effort. The parking lot is just south of the Indian Head Resort on the opposite side of the street.  

Hiked with Rich; a quick stop on our way home.  This peak is the indian's head and like Mt. Willard, the summit is a bald section of rock, cliffy and ledgy.

From the parking lot, turn right.

The path starts out flat, adjacent to houses, and then turns left and goes under I-93 (admit it, it's cool to look at the underside of an interstate).

Is this  I- 93  north or south?  I forget.

This area was still soaked from Friday's downpours. After we left the interstate, we followed swollen Hanson Brook,  and turned away from the brook on a gradual grade.  A right turn brought us to a flooded area of trail (reminded me of Rocky Branch trail).

On this day, much of the trail was a babbling brook.

We rock hopped around the wet and ascended out of the flooded area into a quarter of a mile of mud and wet leaves.  Just when it feels the trail couldn't be deeper into the woods it turns a hard right and the climb begins. 

As climbs go, this steep area is short and sweet!
We arrived at the junction of the Pemigewasset trail and kept going until we reached the summit and wonderful views, even on this drizzly day.

Trail junction

Steep rock face.
We enjoyed the views and headed back into the trees when the rain came.  We were down to our car in no time.  A wonderful short hike in Franconia Notch!