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04 June 2011

Percy Peaks and Pond Brook Falls

Sometimes I even outdo myself in terms of getting a late start that is well beyond the 'crack of noon'.   This past Saturday (04-June) was one of those days!   Anyway, with what was left of the afternoon, I opted to drive up north to the Nash Stream Forest and see what I could do in a few hours.  I had in mind to visit at least one of the Percys (North or South), and maybe both depending upon how things went.  Before embarking on a Percy pursuit, I also wanted to stop by Pond Brook Falls since that was a spot I'd never visited.

To my mind, just the drive alone to the Nash Stream Forest area is well worthwhile.  I love looking at the Percys nearly as much as I love gazing at the Presidential Range and the Franconia Range.  Even before I got to the Nash Stream Road, I pulled off the road twice to snap photos of Percy Peaks!

The first snapshot was taken with the Upper Ammonoosuc River in the foreground.
My next snapshot of the Percys was taken with someone's newly planted garden in the foreground.  Wow!  How would you like to have that view in your very own backyard?!
After taking the photo shown above, I then continued onward to Pond Brook Falls.  I got to within maybe a tenth a mile or so from where I reckoned the trailhead should be. And then, I felt uncomfortable with driving any further.  The Nash Stream Road wasn't wet or muddy at this point, but it suddenly became soft, VERY SOFT!  I could literally feel my car sinking, and steering was difficult.  I think that a road crew had recently dumped a load of dirt/gravel on the roadbed and it hadn't had a chance to settle in as yet.

Okay, there was no way to make a U-turn without going onto the shoulder, and it was even less firm than the road surface.  So I put my car in reverse and backed down the road for some distance until I came to a spot where the shoulder of the road seemed firm enough to support a car.  Once the car was parked, I walked down the road, and in less than 10 minutes I came to the trailhead for Pond Brook Falls.

I'm happy that I made the effort (even more effort than I had anticipated) to visit this chain of cascades.  They are very picturesque!  Below is a composite showing the trailhead sign, plus the cascades that I visited.
As I understand it, there are even more cascades further upstream.  However, due to the glitch with the road conditions, I'd already spent much more time with visiting Pond Brook Falls than I’d anticipated.  For this time around, I was content with what I'd seen, and felt I should move onward with my pursuit of the Percys.  So I turned around and drove back down the road for 2 miles or so to the trailhead for the Percy Peaks Trail. 

Upon looking at the trailhead signboard, I was surprised to see that the NorthWoods Stewardship organization maintains this trail.  This is a non-profit service organization that serves communities in northern VT and NH, and is based out of East Charleston, VT. They have a unique combination of programs that seek to promote an appreciation for the role of the natural world.  And, they are involved in restoration and conservation of the region's natural resources.  Click HERE if you're interested in reading more about this organization.
So, I started out on the Percy Peaks Trail and it was looking like I might have time to do both Percys.  However, it really didn't matter to me if I only did one.  I'd been to both on several other occasions. 

En route to the col between North and South Percy, there were a number of blowdowns along the way.  None of them were what I'd call "show stoppers".  You could get around them by going off-trail.  However, I had my trail saw with me.  As a Trail Adopter, it's too deeply engrained in me NOT to remove a blowdown when you have the means to do it.  So, you guessed it, I spent some time removing blowdowns!  I hated the thought of a path being worn around those downed trees, especially when erosion is such an issue here in this terrain.   

It was becoming very apparent that there would be no time to do both Percys on this particular day.  And so, sort of like the Peter Piper nursery rhyme, I was in a pickle as to which Percy Peak to pick.  Eventually, I opted to go to South Percy.  From previous hikes, I know that it only takes about 15 minutes to reach the summit from the col.  And besides, I like looking at North Percy from South Percy.  Also, I love the little hobbit-like trail that leads up to South Percy (see snapshot below).

Hobbit-like trail leading to South Percy:
To my way of thinking, the summit of South Percy has a cozier feel to it than does the summit of North Percy.  The photo below was taken on the final approach to the South Percy summit.
Once on top of South Percy, there is what I consider to be an awesome in-your-face view of North Percy.
Naturally, there are other views from the South Percy.  The view southward presents a stunning array of mountain ranges.  The snapshot below starts with peaks in the Kilkenny (the pointed silhouette of The Horn is on the right), and then further out on the horizon are the Presidentials and Carter-Moriahs.  A portion of Christine Lake is seen at the bottom left side of the photo.
And of course, I love zooming in on the Presidential Range (photo below).  In addition to Presidential peaks, the snapshot also contains (in the foreground): Unknown Pond ridge on the left, and the pointed silhouette of The Horn on the right.
The next photo (shown below) presents yet another of the many views that are available from the Percys.  This snapshot contains the gum-drop shaped Victor Head (just right of center), and on the horizon is a large chunk of the Mahoosuc Range.
The last photo shows a portion of Groveton (bottom right) nestled at the base of Cape Horn.  This crescent-shaped mountain is the remnant of an ancient volcano and is classified as what is known as a ring dike formation.  Click HERE if you're interested in reading more about this mountain. 

To sum it up, I felt content with what was accomplished in 6 hours (including driving time to/from the trailhead).  The visit to Pond Brook Falls was very worthwhile, and it merits a return visit when there is more time to explore further upstream.  And of course, the terrific views from South Percy were very rewarding.


ADDENDUM (Added 07-Jun-2011)

Shown below are the 3 snapshots of the cascades that I visited which were incorporated into the composite photo at the top of this report.  An E-mail was received from a reader who wanted to see these larger versions.  So, I thought that perhaps if one person wanted to see this, then others might as well.


Anonymous said...

Very nice photos and narrative. Thanks for posting, And, thanks for the link that got me here.


1HappyHiker said...

Thanks BIGEarl for taking a moment to add a comment, and of course thank you for your very kind words! Since it's not said often enough, let me take this opportunity to say that I'm a big fan of the reports that you post for the hiking community to enjoy and learn from.


Anonymous said...

Wow that sounds like a great day! I work for NorthWoods Stewardship Center and I enjoyed reading about your day up there. I have all in all spent 12 weeks on Percy over the past two summers! And I am looking forward to spending a night or two up there this week for some drainage work on the loop trail, as well as some brushing on the summer club trail. Thank you for putting some time in on those blow downs I will bring my axe for some more fun! Hope you didn't take them all down. :) Happy trails. -Cody (Backountry crew leader)

Anonymous said...

Just a quibble with the "many" who think Cape Horn is the best example of a ring dike in North America. It's certainly sharply defined, but it's not much of a ring. You don't have to go far to find a more arresting example, Pawtuckaway:,-71.17724&z=14&t=T&marker0=43.12016%2C-71.19699%2C9.0%20km%20SxSW%20of%20Northwood%20NH

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Cody,

Glad you enjoyed the report I posted! As always, it was indeed a lot of fun hiking this trail again!

Regarding the blowdowns, please be assured that I left enough for you to do some major “tweaking”. I did just enough so that hikers wouldn't have to go off-trail to get around the blowdowns. And, my sincerest thanks to you and your crew for the fine work that you do on this trail. Hiking it is truly a pleasure!


1HappyHiker said...

Anonymous . . . Thank you for taking time to post a reply. You make a good point! I should have made it clear that the “many” was not my opinion. It was merely inferred from a statement included in the link that I provided in my Blog which referenced a report written by the Division of Forests & Lands (NH Department of Resources and Economic Development). I just re-read that report and see that it does NOT contain the word "many". It appears that this opinion was put forth in a work published by Chapman, R.W. 1948. Petrology and structure of the Percy Quadrangle, New Hampshire. Geological Society of America Bulletin 59:1059-1100.

I've deleted the sentence from my Blog that contained the word "many".


Anonymous said...

Hey John, The Percy Peaks are a goal of mine for this year and was curious if the historic westside trail is still apparent from the PP trail.

1HappyHiker said...

Wish I could help you out with your question about the historic Westside Trail. On this particular trip, I wasn’t looking for it, but on a hike to the Percys a couple of years ago, I did spot what I took to be the Westside Trail. I’ve never attempted to follow that old trail, but it sounds like something to keep in mind for a future trip.


Anonymous said...

Hi John,

Great Blog...keeps me in touch with that part of the Whites a bit "off the beaten path".

Regards your interestng photo of the Presidentials and The Horn above, I believe the peak just to the left of and below The Horn is peak '3901' (Mt. Weeks) on the AMC North Country - Mahoosuc Range map. The land that slopes gently to its left in the photo is, I think,the upper eastern slope of Mt. Weeks, then the NE/SW ridge that defines the more northerly wall of Willard Notch (it looks like one continuous ridge in the photo but I don't think it is).

Cheers, Cliff

Yvon said...

Hi John,
We were there saturday, you have better photos than mine. You had blue sky, we had a snow storm and fog. But we like it even we had almost no views. We have to return. Thank you John for your nice photos.

1HappyHiker said...

And thank you Yvon for your nice comments! Very much appreciated!