Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Double the Fun!

Continuing with the "double" theme, my blog post will describe a "double" hike for two separate climbs off the Kancamagus Highway in Albany, NH (UNH Trail parking, Route 112, 22 miles east of Lincoln, NH, 14 miles west of Conway, NH).  The two mountains, Hedgehog and Potash, are near mirror images of each other in terms of difficulty and trail set up, and are great day hikes for most skill levels.

Mt. Passaconway from Mt. Potash
I'll start with Potash Mt.,(2,680 ft).  The Mt. Potash Trail begins and ends in the same parking lot as the loop trail for Hedgehog Mt. (the UNH Trail parking area). Heading out towards the southwest on an old logging road, it passes the Loop Trail junction (which departs to the left) and shortly turns right and
leads into the woods, crossing Downs Brook at 0.2 miles 
before the real ascent begins.  (Downs Brook flows between the two mountains).  It is a woodsy hike of moderate difficulty until it reaches open ledges at approximately 1.1 miles.  The view from the ledges looking to the south is into the Swift River Valley and directly at Mt. Passaconway (4,060 ft.)  These ledges are a great resting stop before ascending the now more difficult last third of the hike.  The trail crosses the steep mountainside diagonally over many small and large boulders that have tumbled from the summit over time, until reaching the final steep rocky incline up to the open summit at 1.9 miles.  The summit view is one towards the north and west, with great views of Mt. Tremont and further beyond, the Presidential Range.

Mt. Tremont

The Presidentials
Over to Hedgehog Mt., (2,532 ft.)  The UNH Trail is a loop that resembles a lasso and can be traversed in either direction, so I will describe it going clockwise.  The trail begins on the same logging road as the Potash trail, but as mentioned earlier, diverges east (turn to the left) just beyond the parking area.  The trail follows and old rail bed for 0.2 miles, then turns right and heads south towards the mountain.  As with Potash it is a moderate climb to the beginning of the connecting loop, and continues on this grade after turning left (east) and following along the upper edge of an old clear cut forest area.  After passing the clear cut at 1.2 miles, the trail turns south again and begins to become a bit more difficult with a few steeper sections as you get closer to the Eastern Ledges at 2.0 miles.  I must be honest here, I usually decide to stop at these ledges as they offer the best views on this hike (Swift River valley/Mt. Chocorua, 3,475 ft./Mt. Passaconway).

Mt. Passaconway from the Eastern Ledges

Mt. Chocorua from the Eastern Ledges

The loop trail continues on, heading back to the west and another viewing area above the same cliffs until it reaches the hardest climbing after 0.5 miles.  The next 0.4 miles turn to the north, is very steep, rocky, and has loose footing.  I usually recommend people not do this section in winter as it is extremely icy, and if they are going to do the whole loop in agreeable conditions, go the opposite way I've described (the steep section can be a real heartbreaker going clockwise).  There is no good view from the summit (another reason I tend to stop at the ledges), and the trail descends steadily through the forest to reconnect with the loop near the clear cut area.  There is a one-side path to a lookout called Allens Ledge (at 4.0 miles), but the area has become overgrown and has limited views.

One more comment; in past blogs I have described cabins my friends and I have rented in the White Mt. area, usually on mountainsides.  There is another such cabin directly off the Kancamagus (across the road from the UNH parking area) called Radeke Cabin which can be rented during summer or

Radeke Cabin
winter through the AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) for a small fee.  There is no electricity, but it does have a big old wood stove, wood being supplied by the AMC, and I believe it can sleep over 10 people on wooden bunks.

As always, get out there and see our wonderful state.  Enjoy!

Written by Brian Markee

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