Monday, February 28, 2011

Hedgehog Mountain, NH (snowshoe trek 2/26)

During early October 2009, I had seen some beautiful open ledges from an outlook near the summit of Mt. Passaconaway, in the Sandwich Range of the White Mountain National Forest. Despite being 1500' lower than Mt. Passaconaway, the Hedgehog ledges appeared to offer excellent views from a different perspective. Karin and I had been itching to do some snowshoeing up north this winter and this loop hike (below), at just under 5 miles, fit our itinerary nicely.

The drive, out of Lincoln, along the Kancamagus Highway was pretty, as always, a Pileated Woodpecker flew overhead perhaps giving a good omen, we soon arrived at the trailhead at 9:45 AM. Nine inches of newly fallen snow set the stage for pristine snowshoe, we chose to cover the UNH Trail, to Hedgehog Mtn., in a clockwise direction. The elevation gain along the early portion of the trip was modest and the wintery scene through the forest was all one could hope for. Early on, traveling through a stand of White Pines.

A unique looking Yellow Birch, perhaps it had grown beside another long since fallen comrade?
open views through the forest and glacial boulders.
About a mile and a half in was a nice vista, with views toward the northeast where Bear Mountain stood out. The sky was clear, but it was overcast to the north and a stiff wind was blowing out of the northwest. The forest provided shelter from the wind and a steady pace would keep us plenty warm, but it was unlikely we'd linger on the summit today.
Looking north east toward Bear Mountain, from the first vista on our clockwise route.
After about 2 miles, we reached the east ledges of Hedgehog and were afforded great views of Mt. Chocorua and the eastern Sandwich Range. Mount Chocorua and "the sisters" in the distance.
Zoomed in on the Chocorua from the east ledges.
Karin making way toward the ledges of Hedgehog Mtn.

I believe these are the Moat Mountains, just west of North Conway.

Mt. Passaconaway stands at just over 4000 feet, 1500 feet higher than Hedgehog's summit.

The summit of Hedgehog Mountain, from east ledges.

Along the ledges the trail was a bit difficult to follow, but with a little zigging and zagging we found our way, always keeping a cautious distance from the ledge face. The trail then dropped into the forest for a half mile before a steep climb to the summit.

Newly fallen snow atop previous snowshoe tracks leading through a hemlock stand.

These ferns, still green, were curled up and awaiting spring.
There was was a vigorous quarter mile climb, with a few steep scambles, before we made it to the summit. From atop, views to the north, east and south were enjoyed for a few mintues until that cold/stiff north west wind encouraged us to head down.

A pose with Chocorua in the background.

Looking North, hump-backed Mt. Carrigan is just to the right of center.

A closer "zoom" of Mt. Carrigan, Mt. Lowell is to the far right.
The view east to the Tripyramids, South, Middle and North...all 4,000 footers, but the south peak lacks 160' of prominence and therefore is not considered an "official" 4,000' peak.

The 2 mile trip back decending through the fresh powder was a joy, we made it back just after 2PM. The whole loop took just over 4 hours, including several quick stops to take pictures, enjoy scenry and make minor adjustments to clothing and gear. We had plenty of time to beat the ski crowd back to The Woodstock Inn for Pemi Ale and burger before heading south.


dAwN said...

Looks like a beautiful winter hike:)

Jedi Hiker (Peppersass) said...

Just hiked this yesterday and my trip experience was identical to yours. Finding the trail back into the woods from the East Ledges was tricky, as was the area just before the summit where you turn left and scramble up a boulder - I did not at first see the next sharp left back into the woods. A great hike in the winter though!