Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Appalachian Trail at Quinttown Rd. Junction

To start the new year off I’d like to share with you the location of one of my favorite year round hiking/X-C skiing areas.   It isn’t a hike up some big mountain or a mile long stretch of startling cliff top vistas, but a walk/ski on an old logging road that crosses the Appalachian Trail in the backwoods of Orford, NH.  This area has many fun outdoor options; a short day hike to Eastman Ledges, a long walk or XC ski to the height of land and a view of Mt. Moosilauke, or a cool walk beside Jacob's Brook, which sports many beautiful waterfalls, oddly shaped crevasses, and wading pools .

In the small town of Orford, NH, take Rt. 25A 3.8 miles east to a right turn onto Quinttown Rd (on Rt. 10 North from Hanover, Orford is approximately17 miles). Quinttown Rd. heads steadily uphill for 2 miles into the valley between Mt. Cube and Smarts Mountain. The wooded, single lane dirt road winds along beside Jacob's Brook to a lower parking area near an active sugaring operation.  In the summer months there is more parking a half mile past this spot near an old logging cabin and a gated entrance onto private but accessible land.

The walking/skiing on the gated part of Quinttown Rd. is gradual and easy for most of the approximately 3 miles to the height of land.  There are perhaps one or two somewhat difficult inclines on this road walk, but on the whole it’s an easy grade.  In the summer people can ride trail bikes here (pedal only, no motorized vehicles), but most days I rarely see other human beings.   YEA !

The view at the height of land looks to the north with a pretty view of Mt. Moosilauke from an unusual angle.  Skiers be warned, since this trail is part of the snowmobile trail system in NH, caution is necessary with an ear to the ground for oncoming snow machines.  You can usually hear them from quite a distance and stepping off the trail is easy.  My experience has been that they are quite courteous and will slow down while passing by.

At about ¾ of a mile on, you cross the Appalachian Trail, one side heading north to Mt. Cube, the other heading south leading eventually to Smarts Mountain.  The north trail climbs rather steadily to a superb lookout that is only a half mile from Quinttown Rd.,  Eastman Ledges.

The view is mainly to the south and west, but the valley below spreads out beneath you in glorious fashion.  My favorite time of year at this spot would have to be fall as the colors in the huge hardwood valley will amaze even the most rabid leaf peeper.

Lastly, Jacob's Brook is a hidden local gem in my opinion.  The large brook flows through the long valley between Smarts and Cube all the way to the Connecticut River back in “downtown” Orford.

The North and South Branch connect very close to the AT crossing, separately meandering upwards to the ponds above up in the hills.  At any point along Quinttown Rd. you can take a very short walk through the woods, or simply down one of the many open embankments to the brook.

While rock hopping up the brook itself from the parking, one encounters a seemingly endless series of waterfalls, deep pools, and amazing angled rock crevasses and outcroppings.
My personal favorite is a waterfall/pool about 300 yards upstream from a new bridge crossing Jacob's Brook on the AT. The bridge is a very short distance from Quintown Rd. (found on the “J” Trail heading south to Smarts Mt.) and the falls are well worth the rocky scramble.

Once again, I hope this blog and the accompanying photos will inspire anyone interested to head on out to a now not so secret getaway.


Written by Brian Markee

No comments:

Post a Comment