Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Potash Mountain, October 18, 2015

Potash Mountain (2,680') via Downes Brook and Mt. Potash trails and logging road, October 18, 2015.
Mileage:  5.2 miles (RT)
Elevation gain: 1,480'
Trailhead: Trail is located off the Kangamagus Highway (Route 112) about 13.5 miles west of the Conway intersection (across from the Passaconaway Campground). There is a $3. parking fed.
NOTE: The Downes Brook crossing can be tricky in high water. Walking the nearby logging road avoids this crossing. The gated logging road is a left (heading west) off the Kancamagus highway approximately .6 miles from the trailhead parking area. The Mt. Potash trail intersects the log road at .85 miles and is clearly visible.

Hiked with Rich and Sandy today. Potash Mountain (or Mt. Potash as many call it) is on the 52 with a View list (a list I'm not working on but you may be!).  It is theorized that Potash Mountain got its name as it resembles an inverted potash kettle.  Years ago these kettles were used to extract potassium carbonate (potash) from wood ashes (drawing here).

Today we hiked the Downes Brook trail to the Mt. Potash trail to the summit, returning via the Mt. Potash trail and the logging road that intersects the trail before the junction to the Downes Brook trail.

Temps were in the 30s when we got to the parking lot, unseasonably cold for mid October.  But this was a good time to check out our cold weather gear, see what works and what's needed.

Trailhead parking is for Downes Brook and the UNH trail.
Starts off wide and mellow.
Take a right.
Downes Brook trail to Mt. Potash trail is relatively flat. The water crossing we'd heard so much about came quickly.  Today it was no problem to rock hop, fun actually.

Time to leave Downes Brook trail and head up the mountain.

I'd read where an old logging road intersects the trail.  Here it is below; the trail continues directly across, evidence by rock steps and a barely visible arrow. 

Old logging road.

Directly across.  "Steps" that lead up the Mt. Potash trail.

If you are hiking from the Kancamagus up the logging road looking for the trail, it's .85 miles in. Keep looking for the stairs to your right (there is no sign).

The trail is easy to follow, even with a thick bed of newly fallen leaves.

We briefly lost the path but soon found it. Blazes are frequent; just poke around and you'll find another.
There's a nice overlook with a deep slope (we hung on tightly to our poles). 
The start of patches of snow - nothing really slippery.
It gets slabby from this point, nothing too steep or tricky. Views are everywhere.

Not as steep as it looks.

Survey marker at the summit.
The summit was cold and windy so we took a few photos and backtracked about 50 feet (where there's a sheltered spot).  We sat and had lunch in the warm sun.  

On our way back we decided to hop on the log road and walk the Kancamagus Highway back to the trailhead parking.