Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Rattlesnakes - Hiking


West Rattlesnake Mountain (1,231ft)
East Rattlesnake Mountain (1,289ft)
Elevation Gain: 900ft
Trails: Old Bridle Path, Ridge, Col, Five Finger Point, Pasture

 Distance: 6.2 miles roundtrip
Duration: 4.0 hrs
Difficulty: Easy

An easy peasy hike and I loved the views on this hike! But I did get lost on my way to the trailhead, something that's become a bit of a habit lately. I've never lost my way on a solo hike, but put me behind the wheel and I'm sure to drive myself lost somewhere!

I met up with the other members of the New England Over 50 Hiking group at the Old Bridle Path trailhead. I had some earlier weather forecasts of overcast skies, but this morning the sun was out and it looked like it was going to stay out...I was hoping. There were only 6 of us on this hike to the West Rattlesnake mountain and after our introductory circle, we started up the trail. There was snow on the ground and microspikes used by all in our group. The incline was gradual and the path wide with the some of the trail steps lined with railroad timber and gravel. This is a great trail for beginners, children and non-hikers. And many tourists who stay at the Squam Lake for the summer vacation enjoy this easy hike with its panoramic views. We were at the top in 40 minutes and spent a few more taking photos. Steve, our organizer suggested extending the hike to East Rattlesnake mountain. One of the members was not able to continue on, so the 5 of us set out for East Rattlesnake.

The Ridge trail to the east mountain is not as wide and worn like the Old Bridle Path trail, but the distance is the same and it's a pleasant walk through the woods. Once at the summit, we spent several minutes taking more photos and lunching. It was a nice spot to lunch and we were the only ones on the slabby ledge. Pauline suggested we extend the hike even further by taking the Five Finger Point trail around Five Fingers. So after lunch we hiked back down the Ridge trail, got onto the Col trail and continued onto the Five Finger Point trail. The trail took us around the water's edge and several sandy beaches. We only met 3 other hikers and 2 dogs on this trail.

On our way back we chose the Pasture trail to bypass the East summit. This lead us directly back to the west summit. That last 100 yards or so up the Pasture trail makes for a really good workout, especially at the end of a hike.  At the west summit there was a good crowd of about a dozen folks and their dogs with more coming up the trail. By this time the skies were overcast but there were still good views to enjoy. 

**Click on photos to view larger images

Old Bridle Path trail
 West Rattlesnake summit withviews of Squam Lake (5)




Along the Ridge Trail to East Rattlesnake (2)

 On East Rattlesnake, Steve and Pauline
looking over the trail map to Five Fingers Point
 Red Hill from East Rattlesnake
 Along Col Trail (2)

 Along Five Finger Point Trail

 Five Finger Point Trail (Loop)





 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Arethusa Falls & Frankenstein Cliff - Hiking

Arethusa Falls (2,000 ft)
Frankenstein Cliff (2,150 ft)
Elevation Gain: 1,500 ft cumulative
Trails: Arethusa Falls and Frankenstein Cliff
Distance: 4.7 miles roundtrip
Duration: 4 hours
Difficulty: Moderate

I don't get a chance to drive through Crawford Notch very often, but when I do, it's always a treat to see how beautiful this part of the White Mountains are. I met with other members of the New England Over 50 Hiking group this morning at the trailhead of the upper parking lot just off of Route 302. The weather was perfect, a bit chilly but sunny and comfortable.

Reading other reviews of this particular hike, most take the Frankenstein Cliff trail first, then make the loop to the falls. Steve, our meetup group organizer, took us in the opposite direction.   The trail to the falls is pleasant and an easy hike walk. There were several wooden bridge crossings and no grand views as the trail is entirely wooded. There were many others on the trail as well. And since it was such a beautiful day, we shared the falls with many others photographing the falls and enjoying its beauty.

Our group continued on the loop to the Frankenstein Cliff. The trail is well worn and well marked with blazes. There is one lookout point before the descent to the Cliff, but the view of Mt. Washington is obscured by several tall pine trees. At Frankenstein Cliff, our group spent an hour resting, eating lunch and taking in the view. From here you can see the parking lot, as well as Arethusa Falls.

The rest of the descent from the cliff was easy with one challenging section where we had to navigate down steep rock steps. The trail continued alongside several walls, which in the winter, are used by ice climbers. The trail continued under the train tracks in the area known as the Frankenstein Trestle. At the upper parking lot, the cliff itself can be seen.

**Click on photos to view larger images