Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Black Cap Mountain (2,369') via Black Cap Trail, Conway, New Hampshire, June 28, 2019

Mileage: 2.3 miles (lollipop loop)

Elevation gain: 610'

Directions to trail head: Trail head is located on Hurricane Mountain Road in Conway approximately 3.5 miles from Route 16 (aka White Mountain Highway). Hurricane Mountain Road sits just north of the Intervale Scenic Vista and Rest Stop, 3654 White Mountain Highway in North Conway. Trail head and parking are on the right - well signed. (Note: this route is on the portion of Hurricane Mtn Road that is closed in winter.)

Today I hiked with Rich. We arrived in North Conway around 5 pm and were dying to do a quick hike before dinner.  

The Black Cap Mountain loop is what my friend Sandy calls a "Coffee and Cocktail" hike - a nearby short hike that one could do before breakfast (coffee) or just before settling in for the evening (cocktail). We'd heard about this small peak with its stunning views and just had to check it out!

Trail head is well marked.

The trail is in the Green Hills Preserve, part of 5,500 wooded acres owned by The Nature Conservancy.  The Black Cap Mountain trail head is one of two trail heads providing access to the preserve (the other trail head accesses Peaked and Middle Mountains - see previous report). On this network of trails one can meander up and down the picturesque hills and peaks that make North Conway that special hiking and skiing destination!

It's no mystery as to why the higher portion of Hurricane Mountain Road is gated in the winter.  It's curvy and steep with two particularly tight hairpin turns.  The trail head is located at the height of land.


Parking lot.  Mountain bikers also use this trail.

As soon as we stepped out of the car we were blasted by black flies.  After applying a few ounces of skin-dissolving Deet we were on our way up the wide gradual path.


This trail system goes to Mts. Cranmore, Peaked and Middle!

The ascent is very gradual in the first half mile - too gradual. I kept wondering when we would start to go "up."

At first we leapfrogged with a group of mountain bikers, until they went right at the Cranmore trail junction.


How mellow is this trail?!


Click here for more information about the Green Hills Preserve.

We soon reached a trail junction which marks the beginning of the loop.  Left is the more direct route and where the real ascending starts - not exactly scrambling but the angled slabs provide for a more interesting hike.


We'll take the "alternative" route on the way down.

The path is marked with red blazes on the rock. 


Fun to zip up these!


We topped out at a small cairn and a rock with an inscription; a tribute to Anna B. Stearns, a benefactor to the Conservancy.


Spectacular view!

With Anna B. Stearns' help, the Conservancy purchased this land.

Puny summit cairn but effective nonetheless!

The views are spectacular especially considering the short walk up.  

It was time to leave and we wanted to continue on the loop but it wasn't totally clear to us which way to go so I pulled out my phone and checked Alltrails to make sure we were heading in the right direction (on the loop and not over to Cranmore and Peaked!). 

To the left of the summit cairn (facing the view) is a small staircase off the rock slab.  Take these steps and bear slightly right and you will see the wide trail down.  We continued on this trail following the signs until we got back to our car.


Easy trail down!



Bugs were still hanging by our car so we quickly jumped in and headed to the Moat for a beer.

If you have just a few hours, perhaps on your way home from a wonderful hiking weekend and longing for one more hike, this peak is for you: close to Route 16, a quick up and down with fantastic views!