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25 August 2012

Goose-Eye Mountain: Where the Geese Fly High!

Could this be the beginning of a rather unusual trend to hike to mountains named after animal body parts?  This past Saturday it was Camel's Hump in Vermont, and then just 6 days later on 24-August-2012, I hiked to a mountain named Goose-Eye, located in the State of Maine.  This was my first visit to this peak, and so it was another brand new adventure for me.

It's fairly obvious from the profile of Camel's Hump as to how it got its name.  However, as to how Goose-Eye Mountain got its name, the best I can determine, no one really knows for certain.  The most common explanation is that the name might be a corruption of "Goose High", for it is said that the old-timers noticed that the migrating geese fly just high enough to clear the top of this mountain.

Regardless of how Goose-Eye Mountain got its name, I must say that hiking to this mountaintop exceeded my already high expectations for this adventure.   It was thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish!

This hike got off to a great start.  I decided to launch my trek from the Wright Trail.  It was a very pleasant drive to the trailhead which is located on Bull Branch Road (several miles west of Bethel, ME).  Even though there are about 2 miles of travel on a gravel road, it is very well maintained.  There is no comparison between it and the rough ride on Success Pond Road which is where the other trailhead to Goose-Eye is located.

The map presented below shows the entire route taken for this hike which was about 9.8 miles round-trip. (Depending upon your Internet browser, clicking on the map might enlarge it.)
My route is highlighted in pink

I was very favorably impressed with the entire length of the Wright Trail.  It is very well maintained. The first 2.5 miles is really easy trekking.  The next photo shows a composite of some typical segments of trail.  (For information about the north and south branch of the Wright Trail, see ADDENDUM at the end of this report.)
Typical segments of trail for the first 2.5 miles

After crossing Goose Eye Brook at the tentsite, the trail becomes a bit rougher, but still well maintained, and well-blazed.  However, this "roughness" only lasts for about a mile or less.  You then break out of the hardwood forest and begin to trek for another mile or so along open ledges and low-growing scrub.  There are many sections where you feel like you're on an "above tree-line" trek, like in the Presidential or Franconia Range.

Immediately upon breaking out of the hardwoods and onto the first open ledge, there is a huge vista of several peaks in the northern Mahoosuc Range.  The next photo shows a portion of this view which includes such prominent features as Mahoosuc Mountain, Old Speck, the Baldpates, and Sunday River Whitecap.
Vista from first open ledge after breaking out of the hardwood forest

The next series of 4 photos are shown to provide a general idea of the type of trekking you do for about a mile on the upper end of the Wright Trail.
Open-ledge hiking on upper part of Wright Trail

Low-scrub hiking on upper part of Wright Trail

Another example of open-ledge hiking on upper part of Wright Trail

One more example of open-ledge hiking on upper part of Wright Trail

And so, after enjoying the type of hiking seen in the preceding 4 photos, you eventually come to your first complete view of Goose-Eye Mountain (next photo).  Maybe it's just me, but I think it's a pretty remarkable sight!
First complete view of Goose-Eye Mountain from the Wright Trail

Near to the spot where the above photo was taken, there is another outstanding view which includes Goose-Eye Mountain and the high peaks of the Presidential Range, faintly seen on the horizon on the left side of the next photo.
Distant Presidential Range (far left on horizon), and nearby Goose-Eye Mountain (far right)

And then after just a bit more trekking, Goose-Eye is right in your face, and is waiting to be climbed (see next photo)!
Goose-Eye Mountain waiting to be climbed!

When you're within a tenth of a mile from the top of Goose-Eye, you come to the junction shown in the next photo.  From this junction you can see the Presidential Range on the distant horizon, and a green meadow in the foreground that is traversed by the Mahoosuc Trail segment of the Appalachian Trail.
Presidential Range (distant horizon), with green meadow (foreground) traversed by Mahoosuc Trail segment of Appalachian Trail

The next photo is just a slightly closer view of the meadow and Presidential Range that was seen in the previous photo.
Another view of Presidential Range (distant horizon) with green meadow (foreground)

Once you arrive at the top of Goose-Eye Mountain, there are 360 degree views.  The next three photos serve to highlight just a few of those vistas.
Success Pond (center of photo) as seen from top of Goose-Eye Mountain

Looking southwesterly from Goose-Eye Mountain toward Presidential Range

Goose-Eye's 'East Peak', as viewed from the top of Goose-Eye's main peak

After spending considerable time soaking in the views from Goose-Eye's main peak, I headed over to the East Peak.  Considering the amount of exposed rock, it's no surprise that there are wrap-around views from this summit as well.  The next photo is a zoomed shot of Goose-Eye's 'East Peak'.
Zoomed shot of Goose-Eye Mountain's 'East Peak'

From the top of East Peak, there is a nice view looking northward up the Mahoosuc mountain range (next photo).
Northward view of Mahoosuc Range as viewed from Goose-Eye's 'East Peak'

And as one would expect, the East Peak provides a view of Goose-Eye's main peak with the Presidential Range in the background (next photo).
View from  Goose-Eye's 'East Peak': Presidentials (on horizon), and Goose-Eye's main peak (far right)

After visiting Goose-Eye's 'East Peak', I still had a bit of spare time.  I briefly toyed with the idea of heading northward or southward along the Mahoosuc Trail to take in some more views.  But instead, I opted to simply head back the way I'd come and make some stops at a few of the pools and cascades along the lower end of the trail.  I had sped by these during my ascent, but they looked liked they deserved a closer look.

Shown below are two snapshots taken on the return leg of my trek along the lower end of the Wright Trail.   Everyone has different tastes, but I thought these pools and cascades were quite scenic.
Small cascade and pool along lower end of Wright Trail

Another cascade and pool along lower end of Wright Trail

Oh!  And I stopped to take one other snapshot on my way down from Goose-Eye.  I spotted a tree trunk which I thought resembled and elephant's trunk.  Not a big deal, just mildly interesting!
Tree trunk bearing resemblance to an elephant's trunk

To sum it up, I'm trying to do something new on each trek that I do.  However, the hike to Goose-Eye was truly awesome, and so there's a strong likelihood that I'll be doing a repeat of this one!  It might not be until next year, or the year after, but "I'll be back"!  In the meantime, I'm wondering if I should consider hiking to another mountain with a name that includes an animal's body part, like an Owl's Head, or Hogback?  You know, just to keep my current trend alive for a bit longer! :-)

ADDENDUM (added 27-Aug-2012):

Some hiking guidebooks refer to a north branch and south branch of the Wright Trail.   The current White Mountain Guide (29th edition) indicates that the north branch is closed to hikers.  However, the website for Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands (MBPL) merely indicates that the north branch is not recommended for hiking.  I don’t know if “not recommended” is the same as “closed”?

On my hike, when I arrived at the point where the south branch and north branch splits, there was no signage indicating that the north branch is closed, nor that it isn’t recommended for hiking.  Also, the info that is posted at the trailhead kiosk for the Wright Trail, includes a trail map, but it does NOT show the north branch.  Only the south branch is shown.

My guess is that the MBPL doesn't want to draw attention to the fact that the north branch trail is still there.  And so, if that is the case, then this might explain why there are no signs posted about the north branch (neither at the trailhead, nor at the point where the two trails split).


Steve Smith said...

Wow, what a great report on a spectacular area! I've only done the Wright Trail once and would love to go back. Much nicer approach than from the Success Pond Road side. The combination of the beautiful Goose Eye Brook valley and the airy ridge is hard to beat.

I assume the north fork up through the cirque is still closed. That is an interesting route, but there apparently are some hazardous eroded spots.

Thanks for sharing.


Mark Truman said...

Very nice John! We also loved Goose Eye on our first visit last month and the trails you used for your approach provide a nice alternative. The visit to East Peak was also clearly worthwhile. We debated it but decided to save it for another trip. It seems that your quest of animal part named mountains may lead to some interesting places. Looking forward to the next chapter.


1HappyHiker said...


You are so right about the Wright Trail! I loved everything about this hike. The drive to the trailhead was smooth and easy. And as you said about the Wright Trail itself: “The combination of the beautiful Goose Eye Brook valley and the airy ridge is hard to beat.”

As I indicated at the conclusion to my report, this is one hike that I wouldn’t mind repeating, despite my current campaign of trying to do something different for each of my hikes.

Thank you for posting your comments!

1HappyHiker said...

Thanks Mark!

Isn’t it odd how the Mahoosuc Range, as viewed from many locations in NH, has a profile that is sort of like a flat line with only a few squiggly bumps here and there. However, when you actually hike the Mahoosucs, you immediately recognize that there is an abundance of raw beauty, and that those “squiggly bumps” become challenging peaks once you’re actually immersed in this unique range of mountains!

Regarding hiking to mountains that include an animal part in their name, I don’t foresee this as being a serious quest for me! However, I know for certain that there is an Owl’s Head in my future within the next few weeks when I do my Trail Adopter maintenance on Martha’s Mile, high atop Cherry Mountain! :-)


Rita Wechter said...

Yes, definitely I think you should try to do a whole series of hikes (and posts) featuring animal-part-themed mountains! Or maybe just animal-part-themed tree trunks?
Perhaps Goose-eye got it's name because the mountain is on level with the eyes of the geese as they pass by? Just a guess.
Another nice post. I love the above treeline hiking routes with all the great views. But as much as I like the high mountain views, the pools of water at the end of this hike look most inviting too.
Another fun trek, and report John!


1HappyHiker said...

Hi Rita,

Your comments are right on the mark, as usual. And I’m in particular agreement with your comment about liking the pools of water at the lower end of the trail. Like you, I also enjoy the views from high peaks, but oftentimes those vistas are simply too distant to see any real detail. I’ll likely continue to include high peaks as part of my hiking experience, but in my heart of hearts, I prefer views that are more up-close and personal, such as a waterfall, a pond, or even tree-trunks that resemble animals, or their body-parts. :-)

Thanks for posting your comments and thoughts!


Anonymous said...

That certainly is a rugged area from your photographs! Yours is the first TR I have seen done from the Wright Trail. Sounds alot nicer than from the other side? Any idea how many miles you hiked for that trail? Seems like you have done quite a few of the Mahoosics now!

I think my plan is to someday just to do the whole traverse in a 4-5 day backpacking trip. We had hoped to do it a few years back, but the weather wasn't good enough for it to work. Someday!!

Great Trip report!! Looks like you had great weather!

Hiking Lady

Chris Harding said...

Looks beautiful and the weather looks great. Very nice pictures. I love the "elephant" tree.

1HappyHiker said...

Hello Hiking Lady,

Your proposed traverse of the Mahoosucs via a backpacking trek sounds like quite a wild and wonderful adventure!

You asked about the mileage for my hike. As indicated in my report, it was about 9.8 miles round-trip. That mileage includes the full length of the Wright Trail, plus a short trek along the Mahoosuc Trail in order to access the main summit of Goose Eye Mountain, plus the east peak of Goose Eye.

As you might already know, some hiking guidebooks refer to a north branch and a south branch of the Wright Trail. The current WMG (29th edition) indicates that the north branch is now closed to hikers. However, the website for the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands merely indicates that the north branch is not recommended for hiking. I don’t know if perhaps “not recommended” is the same as “closed”? On my hike, when I came to the point where the south branch and north branch splits, there was no signage to indicate that the north branch is closed, nor that it isn’t recommended for hiking. However, I do know that the trail map which is posted at the trailhead on Bull Branch Road does NOT show the north branch of the Wright Trail. Only the south branch is shown.

Thanks for posting your comments!


1HappyHiker said...

Thanks Chris! Glad you liked the photos, including the one showing the “elephant tree”! :-)


Peppersass said...

John, love it! And isn't this one pretty hike?

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Dolores,

“one pretty hike” . . . yes it truly is!
To quote Arnold Schwarzenegger, “I’ll be back!” :-)


Summerset said...

Another beautiful hike, beautifully photographed, too. I had to take out a map and look to confirm, this one is in Maine, but pretty close to the border.

Oh yes, you could do a general animal theme for a while. After a quick look at the WMG, there's plenty of Lions, Elephants, Bruins, Beavers, Rattlesnakes and more to keep you busy! Sort of like on one our recent hikes where my son and I tried to name all the features/mountains/trails in the Whites that were named after people. That kept us busy for a while.

1HappyHiker said...

Thanks Summerset for the compliments about the photos. It was simply one of those beautiful days at a beautiful location.
One really would’ve had to work hard in order to get a bad photo!

Regarding theme-hikes based upon animal names (or body parts), that is something that I’ll keep in the back of my mind for some future series of hikes. For now, I like the freedom to roam to wherever and whenever, and be unconstrained by names, lists, etc. You know, sort of a “live free or die” attitude! ;-)