On a hot summer day (04-August), my friend Marty and I were searching for a hiking destination which was moderate, both in terms of distance and elevation gain, and was reachable via a route that was mostly in the shade. It was purely coincidental that on this sultry day we chose to hike a pathway named the Old Summer Club Trail.
We began our hike at the parking area for Christine Lake. There were plenty of folks keeping cool by taking a dip in the crystal-clear lake. We wondered if perhaps they had the right idea for outdoor activity on this steamy day!! Regardless, the closest we got to the refreshing water was the backend of the beach area. From there, we took a few snapshots of our destinations, i.e. Victor Head and South Percy.
In the next photo, Victor Head is the "bump" on the right, and South Percy is the "bump" on the left.
Victor Head and South Percy as viewed from Christine Lake
Our route is highlighted in purple on the map that is shown below. As can be seen, there are shorter routes to the Percys, i.e. the Percy Loop Trail and Percy Peaks Trail. However, since we both had hiked those routes, we decided to use the longer Old Summer Club route. This would be an adventure that would be new and different for both of us.
Our route to Victor Head and South Percy
If you've never hiked in this area before, it's probably best that you bring a guidebook with you, or at least take time to familiarize yourself with the trail description before you begin your trek. There are no signs or blazes until you reach the point where the Rowell Link trail comes in from the east. Upon reaching that point, the northbound Cohos Trail (CT) network begins. From there on, the trail is yellow blazed with some small CT wooden signs here and there.
Yellow blaze and CT marker on Cohos Trail segment of Old Summer Club Trail
The first stop of the day was Victor Head. On the final approach, there is a ledge of rocks which appear to have been neatly put into place by a stone mason. However, as far as I know, this is a naturally-occurring rock formation.
Rocks neatly laid into place, presumably by Mother Nature
Soon after scampering up the neat little ledge shown above, we arrived at the top of Victor Head. There are two viewpoints from this location. One provides a northwesterly vista of South Percy and North Percy (next photo).
South and North Percy as seen from Victor Head
The other Victor Head viewpoint affords a sweeping vista with eastward views of mountains in the Mahoosuc Range. Also, there is a terrific southward view which includes peaks in the Pilot Range and Pliny Range, plus you can also see Mts. Madison and Adams in the Presidential Range. All of the aforementioned can be seen from the official on-trail viewing ledge. However, these views are less obstructed by trees from an off-trail ledge located to the east. Although this "unofficial" ledge is only about 25 ft or so away, accessing it requires some tricky maneuvering.
I neglected to take photos of the eastward view toward the Mahoosuc Range, but did capture a few images of the southward view from Victor Head. The next photo is a composite which shows the view from both the official ledge and from the unofficial ledge.
Southward view from Victor Head (comparing view from official and unofficial viewpoints)
Further regarding the southward view, by zooming in on the saddle between Mts. Madison and Adams, the faint image of the Madison Hut could be seen (next photo). PLEASE NOTE: Clicking on the photo might enhance the image.
Zoomed image of Mts. Madison and Adams (Madison Hut faintly seen)
After enjoying the vistas from Victor Head, we descended the Victor Head Side Trail, and then continued northward on the Old Summer Club Trail. It appears that the upper portion of this trail recently had some trail maintenance. There was fresh evidence of downed trees being removed (next photo).
Fresh evidence of downed tree removal from upper portion of Old Summer Club Trail
The final stop of the day was South Percy. The climb to this peak is actually shorter (about 0.25 miles) than the climb to Victor Head (0.4 miles), and has less elevation gain (about 300 ft, versus 500 ft). Also, the trail itself is very picturesque as it winds its way through lush ground cover and conifers. The next photo shows a typical section of this trail.
Trail to South Percy
Although many might disagree, I actually prefer the South Percy peak to the more famous North Percy. For one thing, I like the "in your face" view of North Percy from South Percy (next photo). Also, on such as scorching day, climbing North Percy might be very unpleasant. With the blazing sun beating down on the massive expanses of exposed rock, you know it had to be HOT, HOT, HOT!
North Percy as seen from South Percy
There are many other views from South Percy. One of them is a southeasterly vista which includes a backwards view of the Victor Head "bump", along with the Mahoosuc Range of mountains lined up on the distant horizon (next photo).
Victor Head (center of photo), plus Mahoosic Range on distant horizon
Also from South Percy you can get some nice views looking southward, especially if you take some time to maneuver yourself to some ledges slightly off the summit. However, on this particular day, I didn't take the time for any such maneuvering! The views to the south were becoming very hazy, plus it was very HOT on the exposed summit. I was most eager to snap a few photos and head back down to trees where it was shady and cooler.
Before scurrying off to the shade, I did manage to capture one semi-decent southward view (next photo). Some of the more identifiable peaks that can be seen are The Horn (pointy peak on far right), and the peaks in the Presidential Range (to the left of The Horn). The body of water is Christine Lake, where we began our trek.
Southward view from South Percy
I just have one more snapshot to present in this report. If you have an interest in vehicles from the 1950s, then you might like to see the next photo. Just off the lower end of the Old Summer Club trail is a portion of pickup truck. Perhaps some reader can identify the exact model and year. My best guess is a 1950 Chevy.
Old pickup truck off to side of Old Summer Club trail