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10 June 2013

Some Stats about Hiking to Cherry Mountain (Mt. Martha and Owl's Head)

For the past 7 years I've been the volunteer Trail Maintainer for the Martha's Mile Trail located atop Cherry Mountain.  And 2 years ago, I assumed the additional responsibility for maintenance of the Cherry Mountain Trail (east side).  The reason I specify "east side" is because the more popular "west side" of this trail is beautifully maintained by an individual who prefers to be identified only as a "Friend of the Forest".

On 09-June-2013, I did maintenance work on both the Cherry Mountain Trail (east side), and on Martha's Mile.  Over the years, I've frequently met hikers on the Martha's Mile Trail, as well as on the Cherry Mountain Trail (west side).  But surprisingly enough, I've never met another hiker on the Cherry Mountain Trail (east side)!

Presumably, the route from the east side is less travelled because it is the longest of the three routes to Cherry Mountain.  The three routes are as follows:

1) Approach from west side: Cherry Mountain Trail from trailhead located on Rt. 115

2) Approach from north side: Owl's Head Trail: trailhead also located on Rt. 115

3) Approach from east side: Cherry Mountain Trail from trailhead located on Cherry Mtn Rd.

(Up until about 15 or so years ago, there was a 4th route, i.e. the Black Brook Trail which approached from the south.)

The table shown below contains some stats about hiking the 3 existing routes to Cherry Mountain.  The stats for all 3 routes assumes the hike will include both the Mt. Martha and Owl's Head peaks, and that the hike will begin and end at the same trailhead.  For the sake of simplicity, I've omitted other variations, such as spotting a car at a different trailhead, and/or only hiking to one of the two peaks on Cherry Mountain.
Stats regarding hiking to both Mt. Martha and Owl's Head from the 3 trailheads
From studying the above table, you'll see that the east side approach is definitely longer than the other two.  However, it has the least amount of elevation gain, owing primarily to the fact that the trailhead elevation is at 1,650 ft.

Of the 3 approaches, I prefer the gentle grade of the Cherry Mountain Trail (east side), even though it is a longer route.  For about the first 1.5 miles of the trail, there are occasional muddy spots, especially during the Springtime.  Despite that, the footway is generally smooth and a pleasure to walk on.

Cherry Mountain is a popular hike, and as a result, numerous trip reports are generated by hikers each year.  In addition to this one, I alone have written 6 other reports about Cherry Mountain!  If you're interested in accessing those reports, the links are listed below.

Shown below are a series of 8 photos that I've taken at various times of the year during my travels to Cherry Mountain. The first photo is my favorite (to date).  It was taken in late Autumn of 2008 when I met a young couple atop Owl's Head, and who graciously agreed to pose for a photo.
From Owl's Head in late Autumn
From Mt. Martha in early Spring
From Owl's Head in Winter
From Owl's Head in Summer
Sunset on Presidential Range as viewed from Mt. Martha in mid-Winter
Franconia Range as viewed from Mt. Martha in early Spring
Crawford Notch as viewed from Owl's Head in Summer
Zoomed photo of summit of Mt. Washington as viewed from Owl's Head
To sum it up, regardless of which route you choose, or what season of the year you hike to Cherry Mountain, there are many marvelous vistas for your viewing pleasure . . . weather permitting, of course! :-)


Todd said...

I traveled Martha's Mile back in May after ascending the west side of CMT. Thanks for your trail work,it was a pleasant walk. Although, I'm now 0 for 2 in views from Mt Martha, oh well. At least I've gotten a view from Owls Head.

1HappyHiker said...

Todd . . . thanks for taking time to post your comments!

Here’s hoping that ‘3’ is the charm for you to get some views from Mt. Martha! At least you have experienced the views from Owl’s Head, which many say is the better viewpoint of the two peaks on Cherry Mountain.


Bill Robichaud said...

Beautiful shots John! Especially the third and fifth ones. That seals it, I'm going to be hitting these peaks within the next couple weeks, they've languished on my to-do list for too long!

1HappyHiker said...

Thanks for the kind words, Bill.

Try to hit Cherry Mountain on a good viewing day. If you do, then I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

Although the views from there are good year round, I think the best time is during the Autumn and Winter months. But of course, I guess that could be said for many other places, as well! :-)


bcborder said...

Thanks for maintaining the eastern side! I've ridden this a couple times of my mountain bike. It's got a couple wet spots, otherwise it's a great ride and a real leg burner. Plus the views from the top are great.

1HappyHiker said...

Thanks for your comments!

It’s terrific to read that that the east side of the Cherry Mountain trail can be negotiated by mountain bike. I sort of thought this might be doable given the trail’s smooth treadway, and the relatively gentle grade for large portions of the trail.

Regarding the wet spots on the lower end of the trail, I’ve been slowly working on the drainage issues, and it seems to have helped somewhat. However, it’s been challenging! I often find water running down the trail, rather than off the trail due to a drainage ditch that has been collapsed/distorted by the high volume of moose traffic on this trail.


One Day in America said...

John, your Cherry Mountain photos are beyond compare! You could make a calendar from your "throughout the year" treks.
Again, it's great to have trail volunteers—such as you—who donate their time so that others may enjoy the beauty of the mountains.
Another fine report!

1HappyHiker said...

Rita, thank you for the compliments about my Cherry Mountain photos. And regarding the volunteer trail work that I do, it is really a ‘labor of love’. And this endeavor is made even more worthwhile by having folks like you who are appreciative of the trail maintenance that is performed by volunteers who willingly donate their time.


NeoAkela said...

John, those are some beautiful photos! Thank you for all the work you do keeping the east side clear. That trail is a favorite of mine - always a pleasant walk that goes by quickly despite it's length.

1HappyHiker said...

Chris, thank you so much for your generous comment about the photos!

Also, thank you for letting me know that you sometimes hike the east side of the Cherry Mountain Trail. It’s great to learn that there are those who actually use this segment of trail. As indicated in my report, I’ve never met another hiker while hiking this corridor.

I agree completely with your comment that it “goes by quickly despite its length”. The east-side route to Mt. Martha is exactly twice as far as the west-side route (3.8 miles vs. 1.9 miles). However, it takes me only about 25 minutes longer to reach Mt. Martha via the east-side route as compared to hiking the shorter but much steeper west-side route.


Tara Jean Weaver Fitness and Dance said...

Are you still taking care of this trail? Your pictures are spectacular!

1HappyHiker said...

Thanks Tara. Yup! I'm still the volunteer Trail Maintainer for the Martha's Mile Trail located atop Cherry Mountain.