Cohos Trail Index
Nathan Richards and his dad, Walter, pledged during the summer that they would open up a new path from the Sanguinary Ridge Trail above the Balsams Grand Resort over the summit of Sanguinary and along its north ridge and down to the vicinity of Abeniki and Mud Ponds in Dixville. They're making good on their word.
Nathan, who is earning his Eagle Scout rank, and his dad reported in early December that they had cut trail from the valley floor north of Abeniki Pond up and onto the steep and prominent ridge which stretches northward away from the cliffs at Dixville Notch, NH (that line Sanguinary's south face). The Colebrook fellows have only to link the ridge top to the existing Sanguinary Ridge Trail above the notch, a distance of a few thousand feet over the summit of the peak.
Nathan said it should be a simple matter to link the trails now because the toughest stretch of the route is now complete.
Once linked there will then be through-trail open from from the northern boundary of Ervings Location all the way to Coleman State Park.
Trail signs have now been placed from Coleman State Park's Little Diamond Pond to the mountain pass between Tumble Dick Mt. and Sugar Hill mountain in northern Dixville.
The trek to the notch is an easy and pleasant woods walk, punctuated by a well-built bridge across a small stream. The notch affords a view southward from a clearing and views of Tumble Dick Mt., Blue Ridge and Sanguinary Mt. from various spots along the trail. On the south side of the notch, the path wiggles through an S-turn then runs straight out on gently sloping trail all the way to Nathan Pond, a cold body of mountain water that is home to a nesting pair of loons in the summer.
Dixville Peak was the last major elevation on the Cohos Trail that I needed to get to. I'd been over all the other peaks on the trail system north of Zealand camp-ground in Twin Mt., but the lone sentinel in Dixville I had saved for last.
The mountain itself is a fine peak and a huge one in terms of the area it covers. Dixville Peak boasts half a dozen arms that sprawl in all directions and four or five major and minor summits.
Folks at the Wilderness Ski Area were kind enough to let me climb aboard the chairlift for a ride to the top of the ski slopes. I took my pack and snowshoes, but the snow was only three to four inches deep.
From the top of the ski area, I marked the trail with signs. Immediately to the right (southwest) of the lift tower an old, narrow woods trail slips into the fir and spruce and dips less than half a mile to the junction with a major OHRV trail built to accommodate two-way snowmobile traffic. The OHRV trail is wide and runs over the peak and down to Kelsey Notch. Since it looks and feels like a major thorough-fare, it dampens down some of the pleasure of the hike.
Near the summit, the road slabs the ridge and continues south, while a little loop circles over the very summit itself. A flat has been bulldozed on top and views are open in about 180 degrees direction. A flag pole has been planted there, with the remains of an American flag flapping in the cold snowflakes.
The biggest disappointment came with the discovery of trash all over the summit. A few (it's always just a few) people had left behind many beer cans, soda bottles, broken glass, plastic, spark plugs, packaging and the like. I cleaned it up, placed some of it in my pack, and packed the remaining mess into a heavy iron barbecue grill that had been left on the summit.
By the time I finished the snow was falling hard and steady, turning the summit into a quiet, beautiful place.
If anyone has a snowmobile and can get to the summit with a big trash bag this winter, a cleanup would be most appreciated.
Anyway, I marked the trail well and returned to the base lodge at the Wilderness Ski Area.
By the way, Kori Marchowski, who attended a good number of meetings in the past, is working at Wilderness on the ski patrol. She spent the summer on the NH loon survey. She indicated she'd be interested in helping out, if time permits.
The Nature Conservancy -- which manages property surrounding little Fourth Connecticut Lake, the headwaters of the Connecticut River -- reported that the ice storm of last winter caused a great deal of damage to the forest in northern-most Pittsburg. The spruce and fir trees withstood the coating of ice, but the heavy ice remained on the trees for weeks, and a wind storm later in the winter took down great numbers of the trees. The shore trail was filled in with fallen wood.
The organization reported that volunteers would be opening up the trail soon.
By the way, the Nature Conservancy also manages conservation properties at Norton Pool east of Second Connecticut Lake and vast Hurlbutt Swamp (with its new boardwalk) near Bear Rock in Stewartstown.
If and when The Cohos Trail reaches the border, the trail to Fourth Conn. Lake will be a part of system.
The Groveton Trailblazer snowmobile club has finished its large steel I-beam span over Nash Stream not far from Pond Brook, says Bob MacGregor of New Hampshire Forest & Lands at the state offices in Lancaster.
The Cohos Trail can now move off the Nash Stream Road and cross to the closed West Side Road as originally planned several years ago. There are great views of Percy Peaks from the west side.
Fred Foss mentioned something a month or so ago that's fascinating. He said that if someone were to build a small observation tower on land he owns on the summit of Baldhead South, one could get an expansive view of the remote country few people see north of Nash Bog and south of Dixville Peak, including the entire Phillips Brook valley as seen from the north.
So an idea has evolved with the help of Andy Coppinger at Stratford High School. Could it be possible to build a small covered observation tower at the high school and fly it in via helicopter to Baldhead? No reason why that couldn't be done.
Say the tower had an observation deck that was 12 to 15 feet high, which would place the typical viewer's eyes at 17 to 20 feet above the ground. On Baldhead, that would be enough to open up almost 360 degrees of panorama.
The little tower could be built of treated lumber, bolted together with heavy hardware. Cabling could be incorporated into the design so that the stresses of being lifted by air could be easily borne by the structure.
The tower could be covered, like a covered bridge is covered, so that it would last a long long time. Such a structure could also be fitted out with a series of bunks against one interior wall so that through-hikers could get out of the weather in this remote area for an evening. Simple rock and concrete footings would have to be built at the summit to support the tower. Once in place the structure would have to be bolted down. To do this, we'd have to raise a few thousand dollars for materials and for costly helicopter transport to the site. This would be a complex project. But as Andy noted, it would be great for the students and for the trail to develop such a unique project. Anyone have any thoughts about the tower? Please write or call or e-mail and let us know what sort of ideas you may have. E-Mail: email@example.com
It's official. Lands including Blue Mt., No. 3 Mt., Gore, Pleasant, Moran and Baldhead peaks, and Cree, Cranberry, Moran, Cleveland and parts of Gadwah notches have been sold to a conservation consortium which intends to keep the land open and undeveloped.
This 17,000 parcel of land adjoins Nash Stream Forest along its northern and northwestern borders and includes the largest contiguous stretches of lands above 2,700 feet in the state north of the White Mountain National Forest.
In planning The Cohos Trail, we had to skirt these lands to take us away from Champion property. Now it may be possible to request permission to use existing trails in the acreage (Old Columbia Road, Cranberry Bog Trail, etc.) to create links to The Cohos Trail sometime in the future.
There is no reason why the majority of The Cohos Trail can't be opened in 1999. With new trail being built and the way being marked throughout the winter, and with projected work in spring and summer, it seems perfectly feasible to officially open the trail by mid to late summer all the way to Coleman State Park. To insure that we can get the job done, TCTA will call a meeting in March -- with FREE pizza, snacks and beverages. I urge everyone to make every effort to attend and to pitch in.
We need just one full day this year from everyone to make the CT a reality. Look for an invitation soon.
Not far off the route of The Cohos Trail there are natural features which are little known and rarely if ever explored. Moran Notch, about half a mile north of an eastward bend in the CT near Mt. Muise, is a dark, wild and very narrow notch hidden in the folds of the hillocks. Nearby is a nice fat little waterfall that's easier to hear than it is to find.
On Baldhead South, Fred Foss reports that there is a large jumble of boulders to the southeast of the summit which houses a large animal den. He said that in the interior is a large mound of leafy matter, as if something had made a bed or large nest. Not far from Norton Pool in Pittsburg township there is supposed to be a 400-acre stand of pine that has never been cut. The forest floor and trees give the explorer a first hand look at what these forests must have looked like before the settlers and early loggers came into the region. Although the Devil's Hopyard in Stark is fairly well known, if you haven't been in there, then you have a treat in store for you.
There are only a few sections on the CT which need a good deal of chainsaw work.
There are several spots along the Cohos Trail that are wet most of the year and need ditching and drainage.
A short link of trail will run across Rowell Brook. This section will require a hewed log bridge. Perhaps three or four logs will be needed, plus some footings to keep the bridge off the ground. Anyone well versed in hand-hewing logs? E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Two fine waterfalls grace the lower end of the Cohos Trail, Upper Falls and Lower Falls on the Ammonoosuc River. Both are very easy to get to and are well worth a look see.
Upper Falls sits right beside the Mt. Washington base station road. It features a bridge, numerous drops, a great pothole and several spots to dive or jump from. In high water, the hydraulic force in the pothole is deadly. Several people have drowned here, having been pinned underwater against the rock walls by the titanic force of water moving through the bowl.
Lower Falls is a graceful step falls running below a fine example of stratified rock. It can be reached by parking just west of the entrance to the old Cherry Mt. Road off Rte. 302 in Bretton Woods.
The Cohos Trail will event-ually reach Upper Falls after a descent from Mt. Eisenhour down the Edmands Path, the Old Bridal Path and old railroad grade. The trail will swing passed Lower Falls as it runs west from the Mt. Washington Hotel area, skirting the Dartmouth Range, but before heading north on the Black Brook Trail on Cherry Mt's south ridge to Mt. Martha and Owlshead.
If you haven't visited these falls, it's well worth the trip.
Donations, dues, and gifts of any sort -- money, materials, tools, etc. -- are most welcome. It won't take vast amounts of dollars and materials to open the CT in 1999, but anything you can contribute will help make the long and challenging trail a reality.
Dues for 1999 are $15 or whatever you can or would like to contribute. As for materials, cedar, hemlock or treated posts about five feet long are our most pressing need. We must mount signs on posts in 1999 and remove any signs placed in trees.
Materials or tools will be picked up as needed. Dollars may be sent to Treasurer Dan Tucker, at Cold Brook Lodge, RR1, Box 1570 Randolph, NH 03570, or Kim Nilsen, 252 Westmoreland Road, Spofford, NH 03462.
North Country Council will accept corporate gifts and other funding under their non-profit umbrella. They will charge us about $50 per month to oversee the funds. So, some expenses may become a necessary evil. Life is hard!
Don Merski at Mead Paper Company e-mailed to say that creating a narrow link between the old Phillips Brook road and Malcolm Washburn's land, along the north boundary of Ervings Location, was permissible.
We had changed the trail plan because of the reluctance of International Paper to allow a trail on lands in Ervings Location. Don said there would be no problem. He also mentioned that running a trail across Mead land north or Route 115 in Jefferson was also fine, provided we could get the okay from a landowner bordering the highway itself. If we can get an okay to cross from the highway over the private lands to Mead acreage and onto the old B&M Railroad right of way, we will have essentially gotten all the necessary permission to finish the trail down to the vicinity of Zealand campground in Twin Mountain.
The State recently sent a note saying they would be sending along an application to fill out which would allow the association to place brochures about the CT at interstate highway and tourist outlets for such material.
The American Hiking Society e-mailed to say that the CT is just the sort of thing they would help support with a monetary donation. I hope to get an application from them now that the new year is here and fill it out in hopes of picking up $1,000 or so. The state, I understand, has purchased the right of way of the railroad between Whitefield and Lancaster. I think the state is still looking for an operator to run trains over the rail there -- which passes Pondicherry Wildlife Preserve.
Ordered 100,000'/1inch scale maps of the Pittsburg and Mt. Washington regions from the USGS two months ago and they still haven't shown up.
Camped out in Coleman State Park just before Xmas. Beautiful sunset. Quiet as could be in the cold. Most of the shelters have been removed from the region around the Davis Path. Also, there is a fine high mountain falls just northeast of the Isolation Trail on the Davis Path.
Snowshoe rabbits everywhere on Dixville Peak. Should be bobcat or lynx up there to prey upon the big-footed creatures.
We hope to open The Cohos Trail by August. Will you help? E-Mail: email@example.com
Choose one project to work on (or more if you are ambitious) for ONE day. Come to the annual meeting in March and let us know what you want to do and when. We'll try to create work days where we can get small crews together for one day. TRAIL MARKING (1- 2 people)
ILLUSTRATIONS (Not on web site yet, check back)
A. First Connecticut Lake (photo)
B. Baldhead Tower concept (drawing)
C. Moose at Midnight (painting)
D. Lower Falls on the Ammonoosuc River (photo)
E. Map of two-thirds of The Cohos Trail