In trying to finish my New Hampshire 4,000′ peaks, I picked out Mounts Whiteface and Passaconaway for this weekend. At 12 miles and just about 4,000′ feet of gain, the loop would also be a good test for a hike I’m planning later this month with about twice those numbers. I planned to go solo to see how fast I could make it but then Jenn was able to join me last minute. I’m glad because we haven’t had any mountain time in a while!
We met in New Hampshire and continued in my car to the Ferncroft Road trailhead. We didn’t arrive until after 10am and the trailhead was packed. We parked way down the road from it on the side of a farm field. I was uncertain about leaving the car there but everyone else was doing it so it seemed to be okay. We had to walk up the road a quarter mile or so to get to the start of the Blueberry Ledge Trail, and the black flies started as soon as we hit the woods. Because it was a hot day, I’d forgone my usual bug season attire of pants and long sleeve sun shirt for capris and a tshirt, thinking I’d make up the rest with bug spray. That turned out to be a mistake.
The Blueberry Ledge Trail started out fairly easily through the woods, with slight climbs and not too many rocks. But those easy parts soon started switching with big slabs, which were thankfully dry. After stopping for a snack break on one of the slabs with a slight view, we continued on up the trail. It started getting steeper and steeper, with long stretches of rock steps built into the mountain. I can’t imagine how long those took to build.
Towards the top of the trail, and where we switched onto the Rollins Trail, there were a bunch of very open ledges and climb-y parts that were a lot of fun to go up. Going down would have taken a lot longer so I was glad we were doing the loop clockwise.
We stopped for a long lunch at one of the higher ledges which had enough wind to keep the bugs away, then continued over the wooded summit of Mount Whiteface at 4020′. The Rollins Trail from there was really nice, not scrambley at all and frequently on the edge of the slope, although the views were usually through the trees. I love that type of high mossy forest that we were going through.
We arrived at the junction with the Dicey’s Mill Trail and had a quick snack before heading up towards Mount Passaconaway. There’s a small loop over that summit so we went clockwise there as well, crossing a nicely flowing stream on the way. The map was slightly unclear so we ran into a few confused hikers who weren’t sure where exactly the summit was. We all went up a small trail together and found it in the woods at 4043′ then stood around chatting for a bit. One of the guys used to work with one of my coworkers, and two others were planning to hike the piece of Long Trail I just hiked.
Jenn and I continued on to a view a little farther up the loop, where we sat on a slab and ate candy to get us through to dinner. Then we kept going down the east side of the loop, back onto the Walden Trail to the junction with Dicey’s Mill Trail, which we quickly started down. It was easy downhill for the first half and then almost level trail for the second half.
We did stop for dinner along the way and then finally popped out of the woods onto what seemed like someone’s backyard. We kept following their driveway out and there was eventually a sign indicating it was the trail. Once back on Ferncroft Road, it was a short distance to the car, which was one of the only ones left around the field at 7:30. What a beautiful hike! Six more 4,000 footers to go!