Located near Benton, New Hampshire is a prominent peak named Sugarloaf, and very nearby is a long ridge of cliffs named The Hogsback. Before starting my hike on 07-May, I snapped a roadside photo which is shown below. There is probably little need to point out that Sugarloaf is on the left and The Hogsback is in the center of the photo (click to enlarge).
In addition to the above photo, perhaps a map might be useful while reading through this report (click to enlarge).
If you are in the bushwhacking frame of mind, then you can see from the map that there are several possible ways to reach The Hogsback and Sugarloaf Mountain by launching an off-trail route from the Blueberry Mountain Trail, and still stay within the green-shaded public land of the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF).
Before I left my house, I did one final check of the USFS website to confirm that their notice of 28-Mar-2012 was still in effect. This notice reads as follows: "The Blueberry Mountain Trail, including its trailheads located off Lime-Kiln and Long Pond roads in the town of Benton, is open at this time. However, timber harvest activity will commence later in the year. The dates are unknown at this time so please check this page for trail condition updates."
Despite the above notice, which was in-effect as of the time this Blog was written, the "Trail "Closed" sign remains at the trailhead (see photo below). It's probably more efficient to leave the sign in place since it's uncertain as to when logging will begin again.
My first stop during this adventure was The Hogsback. From there, I was able to look northward toward Sugarloaf Mountain which would be my next destination later in the day. The next photo shows one of several views of Sugarloaf from The Hogsback.
Looking southeasterly from The Hogsback ridge, there are several nice views of Mt. Moosilauke, one of which is shown in the next photo.
Due east of The Hogsback is a view of Long Pond directly below, as well as a vista which includes the Kinsman Range of mountains with the tops of peaks of the Franconia Range peering over them on the distant horizon (next photo).
The next photo shows a view somewhat similar to the previous photo, but it was taken from a different point along the Hogsback ridgeline. If nothing else, it provides a good idea as to why Long Pond is so-named! I think it qualifies as long!
Shown in the next photo is a view looking straight down over the sheer drop-off on the western side of The Hogsback. The snapshot doesn't provide a true perspective of what you actually experience when standing there in-person!
At various points along the ridgeline, I saw vultures flying overhead (next photo). Hmmm! Are they perhaps accustomed to finding a meal at the bottom of The Hogsback ridge??
In terms of other wildlife, I saw no moose, but their droppings were abundant. At one point along the way, I spotted a wildflower (Spring Beauty) which was in full bloom despite being surrounded by moose poop! And, if you enlarge the next photo by clicking on it, you will see an insect atop the Spring Beauty. There has to be something profound or comical that can be said about a wildflower blooming from a pile of moose poop with a bug sitting atop the flower. If nothing else, I suppose it can be said that this snapshot gives a new perspective to the saying: "Spring has sprung"!
In addition to the Spring Beauty shown above, there were many other varieties of wildflowers seen throughout the forest, such as the large patch of Trout Lily that is shown in the next photo.
While meandering along The Hogsback ridgeline, I frequently came across what appeared to be an old trail corridor. I presume it might have been remnants of the long-abandoned Jeffers Mountain Trail that once diverged from the Blueberry Mountain Trail and then traversed The Hogsback ridge.
After thoroughly enjoying The Hogsback, it was time to head on over to Sugarloaf Mountain. It was an easy bushwhack from the north end of The Hogsback to the open ledges on the southeasterly side of Sugarloaf Mountain. I found no evidence of an old hiking trail on my way to the ledges. But once atop the ledges, there was a well-worn network of pathways leading from one viewpoint to the other. (There was once an official hiking trail to Sugarloaf, and an unoffical trail in more recent times.)
Upon reaching the ledges, the very first thing I did was to take several photos looking back at The Hogsback. One of these photos is presented below. It's a slightly zoomed shot which shows The Hogsback along with Mt. Moosilauke's broad, flat, orange-tinged summit.
The next photo is not zoomed. It shows one of the many magnificent vistas from Sugarloaf. This snapshot encompasses views of the Kinsmans and the Franconia Range (on the left), as well as views of Mt. Moosilauke and The Hogsback (on the right).
Shown below is a snapshot taken from one of Sugarloaf's ledges which has a good view of Black Mountain, a nearby neighbor to the north of Sugarloaf.
To sum it up, this adventure was packed with views which I found very pleasing. It was an easy trek which took about 5 hours round-trip at a very leisurely pace. This is one trek that I wouldn't mind doing as a repeat performance. As stated in the title of this report, Sugarloaf and Hogsback are a delicious combination!