Monday, July 19, 2010

Mahoosuc Notch "loop"

On Sunday, Bob Poirier guided us through creeks, thickets, rocks, mud, and alpine meadow on the infamous Mahoosuc Notch "loop". Loop is in quotes because you won't find this on any AMC trail map. But the loop is there, you just need to know how to find the AT from the old logging road past Frenchman's Hole at the end of Sunday River Rd. We did the loop counter clockwise, so we began on the logging road which eventually became a poorly maintained footpath with a number of blowdowns. The footpath then became a moose trail with moose droppings about every 5-10 feet (really!). The moose trail then led us to the beautiful mountain creek that flows through Mahoosuc Notch, but we weren't too the Notch yet or a trail of any sort so we walked up the stream for about 3/4 mile until we reached the Appalachian Trail at the North (East) end of the notch.

Mahoosuc Notch lived up to expectations. It was a lot of this


and thisand this

The notch is a very narrow ravine that is basically filled with car sized boulders. There really isn't a trail and for a mile we rarely touched dirt. The rocks have sharp edges and the surfaces were not just wet, but were usually angled steeply enough to make boulder hopping precarious. In short it was, SWEET! There were many pockets of very cool air (otherwise it was 80+ outside) and we found the last remnants of winter, including small pockets of ice and snow and a beautiful, glassy icicle that was about 8 inches in diameter. This despite this being the hottest spring and summer on record in Northern New England.

We headed out of the notch up Fulling Mill Mountain and then to the three Goose Eye peaks. The peaks included lots of open (bald) ridge running through dwarf forests and alpine meadow. There were some deep mud holes that swallowed the bog bridges and twice, Floyd.

Atop West Peak of Goose Eye
The trail down from Goose Eye including more ridge running before finally dropping back into deciduous forest. The final two miles followed a beautiful stream with many fine swimming and fishing holes that should be explored soon. As the trail became less gnarly, our speed picked up and we did our last mile in probably close to 6:30. The total loop length was about 12.5 miles. I'd say we ran about 8 miles of this.

2 comments:

  1. Hey, really great log entry, and so helpful for me because I'm planning to do mahoosuc this august with some hiking friends. Until I saw your post, we had a different route planned, approaching from the NW, with a long drive and the need to ditch a car at either end. Your route is far superior and more interesting to boot! The funny thing is, we go to Frenchman's hole every year, but never knew about the connection to the AT from the logging road. Sounds like you went with a guide--I'm thinking of trying it with a map, gps, and if I could get a copy of your route file, that too, or do you think I should get more resources before attempting to retrace your steps? By the way I tried to locate your trip file on runningAHEAD but I can't find it; could you email me the file if you have a chance?

    By the way, we are trail runners, but probably should budget more time than you took. Do you recall approximately how many hours you were out?

    Many thanks for sharing pics and info. Slateberry/Alex. Come to one of my trail runs at meetup.com/Waltham-Trail-Runners

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