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08 May 2012

A Delicious Combination of Sugarloaf and Hogsback!

Fortunately, the title of this report describes map features, rather than menu items!

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!


Steve Smith said...

Great report on a beautiful trip, John! The Hogsback is one of the neatest spots in the Whites and you captured it perfectly with your photos and commentary. Love the ground-level view of the trout lily patch.


1HappyHiker said...

Thank you Steve!

This was the first time I’d ever visited Sugarloaf (Benton) and The Hogsback. I completely agree with your assessment that “The Hogsback is one of the neatest spots in the Whites.” Hopefully, the logging operations will not diminish future hiking adventures in this beautiful area.


OPW5000 said...

Love the first shot and the one of Moosilauke's orange-tinged summit. Nice job, John.

JustJoe said...

Outstanding report and photos John. Nothing like a little fertilizer to help the wildflowers along. This very trip along with Jeffer's for NH200 is on the list for this summer. Now I'm even more anxious to get there.

Thanks for sharing,

Mark Truman said...

Mmmm, mmmm - tasty! What a beautiful day for wandering in such a great spot a discovering it for the first time. The photos are wonderful and provide yet another of your unique perspectives on views we've only seen from other angles. Thanks for sharing the journey.


1HappyHiker said...

Thanks Owen. The view of Moosilauke from The Hogsback was pretty neat.
If there are any regrets to have about this adventure, it would be that it occurred just a few days too early. If it had been just a few days later, then I think the dull-brown colors on the hillsides would have been a brilliant spring-green. But, trust me, I’m not complaining. It was an awesome hike!


1HappyHiker said...

HeyJoe . . . many thanks for your generous comments!
You will really, really like this one! The Hogsback and Sugarloaf combo is simply terrific, and it's one that I intend to repeat, perhaps in the Autumn.


1HappyHiker said...

Tasty! Now that is a good descriptor for this adventure!
This trek was fantastic not only because the venue itself is awesome, but also because it was my first visit to this special spot in the Whites. I think the “first-time” experience for many things is always special.


Anonymous said...

I second all of the above comments. Love those ledges! Sugarloaf and Hogsback have just been added this years list of BW destinations! The skies were as blue as it gets on the day you visited.

Ray (Jazzbo)

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Ray . . . no question about it, this is a hike you will definitely enjoy!
There are so many options for off-trail approach routes from the Blueberry Mountain Trail. I bushwhacked different routes for my outbound and inbound legs of the journey. And when I do it again (hopefully in the Autumn), I'll probably use even a different route.

As you might suspect, during your bushwhack you'll likely come upon some recently-cut logging roads plus some slash. However, you can easily change course for awhile to work around these, if need be. Also, I don't know if that makes any difference to you, but I think the area might be tick-prone. I only got a few on me during my trek, but whenever it was practical, I was careful to skirt around those spots where the vegetation (grassy areas, etc) tends to attract the ticks.

Thanks for posting a reply . . . your thoughts and comments are always appreciated!


Rita Wechter said...

This hike as described by you sounds both sweet and delicious! You had gorgeous weather to boot. I think this would be a nice hike for you to report on again in the summer and the fall—I would love to see this area in all seasons—but will the logging operations interfere with that?

Your pictures are amazing, as always, John. And, like JustJoe says, it appears that moose poop is an ideal fertilizer!


1HappyHiker said...

Hi Rita,

Thank you for posting your thoughts and comments. Also, thanks for your kind words about the photos. A beautiful blue-sky day is always helpful in producing some nice images! As I indicated in my reply to Owen, my only minor regret is that the woods were still cloaked in their dull-brown colors. Spring-green would have been a nice enhancement to the scenery! But hey . . . at least the bugs weren’t biting, and that was a huge plus! Dull-brown woods do have their advantages! :)

Hmmm . . . and regarding the logging operations! Well, I’ll keep fingers crossed that I can get back in there to capture some Autumn color before the loggers return.


billski said...

If you are looking for the abandoned trail, you are approaching it from the wrong side. It was abandoned simply because it was found to be too dangerous. It goes up/down cliff-side over a series of ropes and ladders. Nobody should do this route alone and it cannot be done on a rainy day. I've done a lot of whacking along the west side. It ain't big, but it's damned intimidating. It takes way more brainpower than muscle power. I'd be happy to guide anyone who cares to go. PM

BTW, the birds you see are Peregrine Falcons. They are on the endangered species list. Whiteface is one of the few nesting areas left. In the spring, it's an off-limits area. Consider yourself fortunate to have seen them.

1HappyHiker said...

Thank you Billski on several counts! First for taking time to post a comment, and secondly for letting me know that the birds flying overhead were Peregrine Falcons, rather than vultures as I had assumed them to be. Now that I know what they were, I do indeed feel fortunate to have seen them.

Regarding looking for the abandoned trail, nope I surely wasn’t doing that! I’m aware of the route that the old trail followed. My intent was merely to hike to Sugarloaf and the Hogsback Ridge via a route that looked reasonable and was on public land.

Thanks again!

Neil Carter said...

John, I believe your first guess was correct. Judging by the wing structure of those birds, they are indeed vultures.

1HappyHiker said...

Thanks Neil! They sure looked like vultures to me, but I’m always most willing to stand corrected. :-)


billski said...

I'll probably be heading up there in October. If you are interested, I'm taking a small partee.

billski said...

I'm not ready to concede that one yet!

Matt hickey said...

I have climbed up the ledges on the west side of the loaf twice in the last week great climb ill be going out again tomorrow sure i bring roap and harness but its not to crazy

1HappyHiker said...

Matt, thanks for dropping by to read my Blog. I often wondered if rock/ice climbers ever scaled those steep ledges. You’ve answered my question! Although I’m not a participant in that sport, it’s easy to understand its appeal.

Have fun!


Tom Kidder said...

Someone has recently restored the old Sugarloaf trail and built a new ladder. There’s a new rope, but I would recommend giving it a good bodyweight test and grabbing both ropes—the old and the new—for extra safety. I felt totally safe using the ropes. One can avoid the rope and ladder by going along ledge at the base of the cliff to the right from the bottom of the rope. Continue upslope along the cliff base until you can’t go any further, then scramble up the rocks to your left and you will arrive above the rope and ladder. I used to take my dog this way since he didn’t climb ropes. Yellow blazes mark the trail from the house at the trailhead all the way to the east side of the peak, where there is a wonderful lunch spot and view.

Before you leave the old logging road and before the stone bridge, look for an X blaze. Go up the bank there and in about 20 yards you will find an amazing old cellar hole, once the home of New Hampshire Governor John Page (1787-1865), his wife Hannah, and their nine children. The stone bridge is worth a close look, too. Get off the trail and go upstream, then look back.

1HappyHiker said...

Wow Tom! Thanks for sharing the updated information about the trail to Sugarloaf (Haverhill). Much appreciated!! Will be very eager to try it out!