Monday, November 2, 2015

Mt. Martha and Owl's Head, October 31, 2015

Mt. Martha (3,573') and Owl's Head (3,258')* via Cherry Mountain, Martha's Mile and Owl's Head trails, October 31, 2015.

Mileage: 5.2 miles (traverse)

Elevation gain: 2,099' (400' loss on the descent)

Trailhead: This is a traverse that begins at the Cherry Mountain trailhead on Route 115 in Twin Mountain, and ends at the Owl's Head trailhead also on Route 115 (about four miles north of the first trailhead).
  •  To Cherry Mountain trailhead (where the hike starts): At the junction of Routes 302 and 3 in Twin Mountain, head north on Route 3 to Route 115 (2.1 miles from the junction). Travel on Route 115 for 1.9 miles to a parking area on the right (Opposite Lennon Road).
  • To Owl's Head trailhead (where the hike ends): Follow directions above but travel north on Route 115 for about four miles past the Cherry Mountain trailhead parking area.  Parking is also on the right, at the "Cherry Mountain Slide" historic marker.

*Note: This is not the Owl's Head mountain on the Four Thousand Footer Club list.  For information on that peak, see previous report.

Hiked with Rich, Sandy, Becky, Joe and Mark today.  Mt. Martha is on the 52 with a View list (a list I'm not working on but you may be!).
Mt. Martha and Owl's Head are peaks on Cherry mountain. I've been wanting to explore this mountain for some time; it's close to the Highland Center and many previously explored small peaks.  And, I heard the views are spectacular so I was excited to check it out.

We spotted a car here.
After we spotted a car at the Owl's Head trailhead (where the hike would end), the six of us piled into the remaining car and headed to the Cherry Mountain trailhead.

The car was crowded with too many people and way too much gear, which would've been uncomfortable if we'd only stop laughing about it!  Several cars were in the lot when we arrived.
Easy trail with just this one blowdown.

As expected, the trail starts out wide and flat, with a gradual increase in steepness, though it never seems to lose that mellow characteristic.  It has a cross country ski trail quality.

Still a mellow trail.

Within an hour we were up the steeper stretch and at a trail junction. This is where the Old Cherry Mountain Road portion of Cherry Mountain trail comes in.  This part of the trail is also a snowmobile trail, evidenced by the rider-friendly signs and wide flat terrain.
We took a left and walked the .2 miles to the summit of Mt. Martha.

Cherry Mountain Trail from Old Cherry Mountain Road.

At the summit the views are spectacular!  We had lunch on the bench and then explored what's left of the foundation of an old fire tower. 

View from Mt. Martha.
Fire ring on the summit of Mt. Martha. Nice campsite!

After lunch (and chatting with another group of hikers) we jumped on Martha's Mile, a lovely trail through enchanted woods. Soon we got to the ledges.

From the summit of Mt. Martha.

I'd read about the ledges - that they can be slippery when icy.  It was an non-issue today.  And to me the ledges are no big deal. They look like a short section of stacked and slabby rock with fair footing and great hand-holds (trees and roots).

The ledges. There was just one small patch of ice.

Roots and trees make for great steps and handholds.

The ledges have mad views of the valley. Owl's Head's wooded summit does not so we took a few photos from the ledges, walked to the summit and headed down - this time via the Owl's Head trail.

Summit of Owl's Head (there's a "path" sign here - leads you to the trail).

At first, down is steep (relatively). We made our way around and down.  

Steep exit from Owl's Head summit.

The woods are littered with rotted birch trees and debris - looks a bit like a landfill.  As we descended, the forest thinned and new growth (pencil thin trees) surrounded us. There are a few bog bridges here and there.  We followed the frequent yellow blazes; many leaves covered the ground, masking the trail.

It gets a little confusing in this area.

The one and only water crossing.

Yellow blazes on the Owl's Head trail. Good thing.

The trail meanders (avoiding private land, perhaps) and as we made our way toward our car the direction of the path would've been confusing if not for the many yellow blazes. Several times we wondered if we were zigzagging around the forest for no reason. We heard the highway at one point, then nothing - we were heading away from the road.  
Mellow end to the trail.
Gate just before the parking lot. We crossed a small stream.

The sign at the end of our hike.  The hiking trail is also a ski/snowmobile trail.

Eventually we saw the parking area and car.  We piled in it and headed out to pick up the other car.  
This is a wonderful hike and I plan to do it again in winter.