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11 May 2013

Mt. Willard's Less-Visited East Side

Because of how they are situated within Crawford Notch, it is difficult to find a spot where you can get a side-by-side view of Flume Cascade and Silver Cascade, and where you can see nearly the full extent of these cascades from top to bottom.  There are a couple of locations on the east side of Mt. Willard where such views are possible, although the vistas are partially obstructed by tree branches.

This mini-adventure is presented more for general interest than anything else.  It would be unkind to recommend this trek to anyone other than those who are completely comfortable with traveling off the established hiking trails.

The first of two locations that I visited was a rather quirky spot in the woods about 350 ft. east of the Mt. Willard Trail (about 0.3 mile before the trail ends).   Although the distance was short, it was a tedious and moderately intense bushwhack through thick conifers.

The second location was reached by taking the abandoned Hitchcock Flume Spur Trail, which branches off the east side of Mt. Willard Trail (about 0.1 mile before the trail ends).  The spur trail is rough (about one-step above a bushwhack), and steep (about 250 ft. elevation loss over a distance of about 0.15 mile).  Anyone hiking this spur trail should use extreme caution since there is a very dangerous drop-off near the end.  Also, just the same as with bushwhacking, eye-protection would be a good idea.

The two locations mentioned above are shown on the map presented below.
Map showing two locations where photos were taken (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
Although this trek began with partly sunny conditions, it deteriorated rapidly to a dreary day with on/off showers and drizzle.  The weather conditions combined with tree-obstructed views resulted in some rather lackluster photos.  Nonetheless, shown below are 4 snapshots taken from  the spots identified as "Location 1" and "Location 2" on the map presented above.
Location 1: Flume and Silver Cascade (lower left): Mts. Jackson & Webster on horizon
Location 1: Zoomed View of Flume and Silver Cascade 
Location 2: Flume and Silver Cascade (viewed from Hitchcock Flume Spur Trail)
Location 2: Crawford Notch (viewed from Hitchcock Flume Spur Trail)
To sum it up, despite the weather, which deteriorated from decent to dreary, this mini-adventure was still a lot of fun, and it provided some unique views.


One Day in America said...

I liked the zoomed view of these two cascades. Impressive.
Here in the west, when water cascades down a mountain it's usually from snowmelt—and when the snow is finished melting, the cascade is finished flowing!
Is that the case with these two cascades?

Interesting post, John. Even with the deteriorating weather!

JustJoe said...

Interesting little adventure John. My better half and myself headed down the old spur a few years ago. I thought I could see Hitchcock Flume from below once and wanted to check it out. She's not into bushwhacking at all and as you mentioned that's basically what it is now. So with her not enjoying it, the fact I realized what you mentioned. We're pushing through these thick woods to a potential quick route down.

Possibly why it's no longer maintained? First, or rather, last steps a doozy.

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Rita,

Yes, for certain, snowmelt plays a big role for our cascades here in the mountains of NH. We do have our “seasonal cascades” which primarily flow only at times of high water, such as Springtime during snowmelt. But, we also have some cascades that flow year round, albeit less impressive at times of dry weather. For the two cascades featured in this blog report, Silver Cascade usually has some flow for most of the year, whereas Flume Cascade is not nearly as robust, and it can go nearly dry.

Thank you for reading my report and posting your comments and questions.


1HappyHiker said...

Hey Joe . . . yes that little trek down (and back up) the Hitchcock Flume Spur Trail is a bit tricky. And, for those who dislike something that is akin to a bushwhack, then it can be downright miserable! :-)

As to why the trail is no longer maintained, I suspect that (just as you suggest) it’s for safety reasons. It appears to be a spot that is pretty unforgiving if you make a misstep!

Your comments are most appreciated. Thank you!


JustJoe said...

Did not mention it initially but we did turn around before reaching Hitchcock Flume. And once out, got the rolling eyes look form the girl friend. :)

1HappyHiker said...

Yup! I know that ‘rolling eyes’ look! :-)