In current times, there are two trails that hikers can use to launch treks to the peaks named Mt. Martha and Owl's Head, both of which are located on Cherry Mountain. There is the Owl's Head Trail located on Rt. 115. In addition, there is the Cherry Mountain Trail which also has a trailhead on Rt. 115 on the west side of the mountain, plus another trailhead which is on the east side of the mountain off the Cherry Mountain Road (closed in winter).
In days gone by, the Black Brook Trail provided yet another option for hiking to Cherry Mountain. This now-abandoned trail began at a trailhead off Route 302 about a half mile west of Zealand Road. The trail headed nearly due north to intersect with the portion of the current-day Cherry Mountain Trail that comes up from the east side of the mountain.
There’s still a short access road off of Route 302 to the former trailhead, but of course it’s unplowed in winter. So for my trek, I parked at the Zealand Road winter lot and did a short two minute bushwhack from the parking lot up to the railroad bed (also a snowmobile route). Then, after about a ten minute westward walk, I arrived at the old trail.
The Black Brook Trail still shows up on some topo maps since many of these are generated from USGS maps which often have not been updated in years. Therefore, it’s not uncommon to see some abandoned trails still show up on maps. The corridor for the old Black Brook Trail is highlighted on the map shown below. I've also included two labels which will be discussed later in this report.
|Map showing Black Brook Trail|
On previous adventures in this area, I have hiked to a point about 1.5 miles from the old trailhead on Rt. 302, and then veered off the trail and headed eastward onto an obvious logging road which leads to a nice viewpoint. For my trek on 27-Jan-2013, I had two rather simple goals. One goal was to revisit the previously discovered viewpoint that I just mentioned. The other goal was to try something new for me by following the Black Brook Trail beyond the point where I've departed from the old corridor on my previous hikes.
The old trail is quite obvious for about the first 1.5 miles. In the past, portions of this corridor have been used as a logging road, as well as a snowmobile route. I think this causes a trail corridor to remain obvious for a longer period than trails that were used solely for footpaths. Shown below are a couple of snapshots of the trail corridor.
|Portion of Black Brook Trail Corridor|
|Another segment of Black Brook Trail corridor|
When I came to the spot along the trail where an old logging road veers sharply to the east, I did as I've done in the past and followed that road to the viewpoint which is mentioned above (and is labeled on the map shown earlier). While travelling to this viewpoint, there is a meadow which provides a picturesque vista of Cherry Mountain's southern ridgeline.
|Cherry Mountain's southern ridgeline, as viewed from a meadow|
Upon arrival at what I'll call the main viewpoint, there is a nice southward vista looking toward the Twins and the Franconia Range (see photo below).
|Twins and Franconia Range as viewed from a spot located off the old Black Brook Trail|
After my visit to the viewpoint, I returned to the point where I'd left the Black Brook Trail. And so, the second part of adventure began. In the past, I had never ventured beyond this point since the corridor for the old Black Brook Trail is very obscure at this particular spot. However, with a bit of meandering zigzags, I was able to locate the corridor which then remained obvious all the way to point where I stopped.
My stopping point for this trek is labeled on the map presented earlier. From the outset of this hike, I had no preconceived notions as to how far I would trek along the old Black Brook Trail. And actually, I was unsure if it would even be possible to find the old corridor! Regardless, once I found it, I simply enjoyed hiking on it until I reached my turnaround time for arriving back at my car before nightfall.
I took a GPS waypoint at my stopping point. At some point when I'm hiking the eastern portion of the Cherry Mountain Trail, I might diverge from that trail and hike down to my stopping point. If you know where to look, the old Black Brook Trail is quite obvious at the point where it joins the Cherry Mountain Trail.
You might ask, just how obvious was the portion of the old Black Brook Trail that I followed when venturing beyond the 1.5 mile mark? Well, as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. So, just for good measure, shown below are two pictures.
The first photo shows the corridor, along with one of the yellow blazes. These blazes are few in number, but just enough to provide reassurance that you are actually on the old trail. The second photo shows evidence of past trail maintenance along the corridor.
|Black Brook Trail corridor, along with one of the very few remaining blazes|
|Evidence of past trail maintenance along the Black Brook Trail|
Lots of moose poop was seen along the route. Also, I saw a bird's nest that was positioned low to the ground, and directly at the edge of the trail's footway. Maybe some knowledgeable reader can enlighten me as to the type(s) of birds that might build their nest at such a location.
|Lots of moose poop was seen along the route|
|Bird's nest seen right next to trail corridor and down low to the ground|
It was getting late as I was making my way back to my car. I was surrounded by woods and therefore was unable to see any alpenglow on the mountainsides. However, as I looked overhead, there was a definite reddish-golden glow that was illuminating the treetops. I can only imagine what it must have looked like on the slopes of the surrounding mountains.
|Late evening in the woods as the sun was setting|
Before concluding this report, I should mention that (in my opinion) the abandoned Black Brook Trail is just marginally suitable for summer travel. I once tried hiking this route during that season of the year. The footway had many spots that were wet/boggy, and briar patches were encroaching into the trail's corridor. And to top things off, I was covered in ticks!! For those reasons, I think it's best enjoyed in late autumn and during the winter season.