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11 August 2013

Trek to a Ledge on Whitcher Hill via Three Ponds Trail and a Bushwhack

To set the scene for this very short report, I'll begin with a quote from a Blog report written by Steve Smith when he visited this area in November 2009. (Click HERE to read Steve's entire report and view his photos.)

"The Three Ponds area in the southwestern White Mountains is one of the most interesting wild nooks in the region. Numerous ponds and wetlands are tucked into a broad upland valley between the high, wooded crests of Carr Mountain and Mt. Kineo. There are actually two drainages in the valley - Sucker Brook on the west side, traversed by the Three Ponds Trail and holding Foxglove Pond and the Upper, Middle and Lower Ponds; and Brown Brook and the Mt. Kineo Trail on the east side, where a long string of swamps and marshes forms one of the largest wetland complexes in the Whites."

The only way to get vistas that provide a broad overview of this area is to bushwhack to small obscure ledges on surrounding mountainsides.  I had the urge to undertake this adventure in early August.  However, it's probably best to do this trek in the Autumn when the views are more open due to the leaves being off the trees.

I began my hike from the Hubbard Brook Trail's western trailhead which is located just a short distance off NH 118 in Warren, NH.  In less than a tenth of a mile from the trailhead, I hung a right onto the Three Ponds Trail and followed it for about 2.9 miles, at which point I left the trail for a 0.3 mile bushwhack to a ledge at the south end of Whitcher Hill.
Trail sign at junction of Hubbard Brook Trail and Three Ponds Trail
Regarding the Three Ponds Trail, the White Mountain Guide states the following.  "The northern part of this trail, between the ponds and NH 118, is lightly used and may require care to follow; it is not recommended for inexperience hikers."

I totally agree with the above statement, but will say that there are long stretches where the corridor is well defined and there is no problem with following the trail.  However, I will hasten to add that there are sections where the corridor is very faint, and there is one spot where I had particular difficulty with locating the continuation of the trail. This problem occurred at the point where the trail comes to an old skidder road.  The trail crosses this road and enters the woods on the other side.  However, not only is this point of entry obscure, but the skidder road has several confusing paths weaving through the tall weeds which lead in many different directions.

From the ledge on Whitcher Hill, I was able to get a view of a portion of the Brown Brook Marshes which are located east of Foxglove Pond and the Three Ponds area.  Shown below are two photos.  The first is an zoomed image of the view, and the second is an unzoomed image.
Zoomed vista of Brown Brook Marshes from ledge on Whitcher Hill
Un-zoomed vista of Brown Brook Marshes with Mt. Carr in background
At about 0.1 mile west of the spot where I took the above photos, I visited two other small ledges.  I was unable to see very much since the leaves are still on the trees.  But, in late Autumn I think there is the distinct possibility that these other ledges might provide some vistas which would include Brown Brook Marshes, and possibly Foxglove Pond.

Shown below is a Google Earth image which shows many of the items mentioned in this report.
Google Earth image showing many of the items mentioned in this report
To sum it up, this type of adventure would likely have limited appeal to many hikers.  However, for me it's always a thrill to locate these hidden gems in the forest where one can experience vistas that are unique and seldom seen.


One Day in America said...

Hi John,

Thanks for adding another google earth image to this report—it's very helpful for me to see the ponds in relation to the trail, and to imagine the views from your bushwhack to the ledge (in addition to viewing your fine photos!). Did this trail have much of an elevation gain? Or was it more "up and down"?

The Three Ponds look like a good spot for migrating waterfowl. Do you know of any reports detailing bird life in this area?

Thanks for adding this "hidden gem" to your long list of adventures!

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Rita,

Thanks again for taking time to read my blog and post a reply.

Regarding your question about elevation gain, this trek was very "mild-mannered", and nothing like the extreme climb experienced on my recent trek to East Hale.

And regarding your other question about any reports of migrating water fowl in the Three Ponds area, Cheri and I are in Meredith, NH for a few days at a family gathering. Therefore, my readily-available information resources are a bit limited. However, even though I don't have a definitive answer, I would suspect that this area would indeed be a likely spot where such activity would occur.