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15 April 2011

MAHOOSUC TRIPLE-PLAY: Dryad Fall; Dream Lake; plus an Unnamed Ledge

My game-plan for 15-April-2011 was to hike the Austin Brook Trail to the Dryad Fall Trail. I would then follow the Dryad Fall Trail to the short spur trail leading to Dryad Fall (a place I'd never visited). Then after visiting the falls, I would continue onward to Dream Lake, but along the way I planned to leave the trail for a short bushwack to a ledge overlooking the Presidential Range. Perhaps the map shown below will better illustrate my game-plan.
Shortly after setting foot on the Austin Brook Trail, I began to wonder if the "game" would have to be forfeited due to field conditions! This predominately south-facing trail had more snow on it than I had anticipated. My initial concern wasn't due to an equipment issue since I had snowshoes strapped to my pack. My unease was about the character of the snow itself, i.e. would it be firm and supportive, or miserably gloppy and sticky?

It didn't take long to determine that it was "game on"! Overall, the snow conditions were great. Mother Nature had done an excellent job of hardening the snowpack by providing an overnight temperature in the low 20s.

There were a few stretches of bare ground along the route, as shown in the photo below.
However, the predominant conditions encountered for most of the hike were like what is shown in the following photo. You can judge from my snowshoe track just how firm and supportive the snowpack was on this particular day.
As indicated above, my first stop was at Dryad Fall. Click HERE for a link that provides some interesting and useful information about this waterfall. As indicated in this link, the brook that feeds this waterfall has a small drainage basin. And so, it's best to visit this spot at times of high water. Otherwise, it's my understanding that you are likely to be looking at just a tall wet cliff!

Dryad Fall has an upper tier with a 25 ft drop, and a lower tier with a drop of approximately 300 ft.  A short spur-trail takes you to a small flat ledge at the base of the upper tier which is to your right. Immediately to your left is the top of the lower tier with its precipitous 300 ft drop. Obviously, one needs to be extremely cautious when attempting to view and photograph from this spot!

So, shown below are two photos. The first snapshot shows the upper tier of Dryad Fall, and the second one shows the lower tier.

I returned to the main trail after my visit to the waterfall and then continued onward toward Dream Lake.  Above Dryad Fall, the snowpack was roughly calculated to be about 2.5 ft deep.  My crude measurements were taken at various points by pushing my trekking pole to the bottom of a few moose-created postholes that extended down to bare earth.

As mentioned earlier, my game-plan called for a short off-trail excursion en route to Dream Lake in order to explore a small ledge that overlooks the Presidential Range. With a fantastic combination of wide-open hardwoods and a very firm snowpack, I was able to bushwhack to the ledge in less than 15 minutes.

Just as was the case for Dryad Fall, this was my first visit to this particular ledge. The view from this spot was pretty good, at least in my opinion! Shown below is a snapshot taken from this unnamed ledge.
And, through the "magic of zoom", I captured a highly magnified image of Mt. Washington while standing on this ledge.
After having lunch on the ledge, I once again returned to the main trail and pushed onward to Dream Lake, which was my final destination. For this particular day, this was the only destination that I had previously visited! This was done a year or so ago when I used the Peabody Brook Trail as my approach route.

I particularly like the view of the Presidents resting on the horizon at the end of Dream Lake. Shown below is a snapshot of this view. Although the photo is just slightly zoomed, it doesn't misrepresent the view with the naked eye.
After lingering for a bit around the shoreline of Dream Lake, I returned to the trailhead via the same trails that were used for the outbound portion of my journey. I did make one stop along the way to visit the reflecting pool of water just a few hundred yards from the trailhead for the Austin Brook Trail. Shown below is a photo of this scenic little spot.
And speaking of the Austin Brook Trailhead, for anyone who has been there, you'll recognize the photo below. Although there might be other trailheads in the Whites that have a turnstile, I personally haven't come across any others.
TO WRAP IT UP, the journey described above was my triple-play in the "Mahoosuc League". Even though there was snow on the "playing field", it was firm and supportive and had no impact on completing my game-plan for the day. It was another wonderful day in the Whites!
Leaving a comment via this Blog is always appreciated. However, if you prefer to ask a question or make a comment via a personal E-mail, then you may contact me at: randonneur8 at yahoo dot com.


Steve Smith said...

Great report on a nice trifecta, John - that ledge was a good find!


NeoAkela said...

Hi John,

It's always fun to see where you are going to go next! I've never been to Dryad falls - the one time I made an attempt was on a really rainy day when I tried to drive up the Austin Brook road to save a mile... definitely won't do that again!

Did you see any way to get a view of these falls from below? I'm guessing from your photo that the base is either crowded with trees, or it curves so that there is no spot that a good portion of the waterfall can be viewed from the lower end. Looks like a place to avoid in the icy season!

Those are some nice views from that little ledge. From your photo, it looks like there's a nice little open spot surrounded by conifers on the lower ridge as well, though it might not have any south-facing views.

1HappyHiker said...

Thank you Steve and thank you Chris for taking a moment to post a comment!

Chris, on this particular trip, I did not investigate to see if there was a spot to get a view of Dryad Fall from the bottom. But, I think it’s definitely worth investigating on some future adventure!:)

As an interesting side-note, I received an E-mail from a person who frequently hikes in that area. I’m told that despite what most guidebooks say, apparently Dryad has a flow of H20 nearly year-round, and that it’s not absolutely imperative to plan a visit ONLY during times of high water in order to get a decent waterfall experience.

Regarding the unnamed ledge that I visited, the view from there was quite a pleasant surprise. To the west of that ledge (less than a mile as the proverbial crow flies) there are a number of ledges on the south end of Bald Cap Peak. This past autumn, my friend Marty and I only had time to investigate one such ledge. We trekked up the newly reopened Middle Mountain Trail and then did a steep bushwhack up from the east. When we plotted the GPS waypoint we took to mark the ledge we were on, we could see that we were only a few hundred yards from a whole other set of ledges that probably would’ve provided some awesome views toward the Presidential Range! Win a few; lose a few!:)


Grant said...

I love your pics from the ledge and Dream Lake. The presidentials look amazing! Those would both make great postcards!

1HappyHiker said...

Thanks Grant! Glad you liked those Presidential views. I really enjoy looking at those guys from different/unique perspectives. But even ordinary run-of-the-mill perspectives are great as well!

Thanks again for taking a moment to post a comment . . . much appreciated!


Karl said...

Wonderful photos and trip report, John. The Dryad Fall looks pretty scary, especially the lower tier. I'm sure you do have to be careful when looking down it.

You're pictures of the Presidentials from the unnamed ledge are great. Looks like Washington is starting to melt off a bit. I was thinking, you could stake a claim to the ledge and call it "1 Happy Hiker Ledge"??? You should bring up a sign next time and nail it to a tree!

The view of the Presidentials over Dream Lake is wonderful too. Looks like you could sit there and take that view in for hours.

Thanks for sharing it with us!

1HappyHiker said...

Karl, it's terrific to read that you are among those who appreciate hikes such as this!

Both Dryad Fall and Dream Lake are terrific destinations (in my opinion), and I'd recommend visiting either or both.

It's difficult to tell from the photos, but in terms of a place to linger, probably Dryad Fall is the more enjoyable of the two (once again, just my opinion). I've only visited Dream Lake twice, but thus far, I've yet to find a spot along its wooded shoreline that is comfortable for any prolonged sitting. Regardless, it's still a very nice place to visit!


Anonymous said...

Thanks John, very descriptive writing an nice pictures. I was looking for trail conditions in that area and your post gave me some great insight. Thanks for the information.

Anonymous said...

I came across your post while googling Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park and at first I thought that was what this was about. I didn't realize New Hampshire looks so much like Colorado. I'll have to try to get there someday!

1HappyHiker said...

Thank you for taking a moment to post a comment!

And likewise, I hope to visit Colorado someday to do some hiking. From what I’ve read, you have some absolutely wonderful hiking venues there!