It has been nearly 5 years since I last visited East Royce Mountain in western Maine near the New Hampshire border. In keeping with my desire to try doing something new for each of my hikes, I began my hike from the Laughing Lion Trail which was a corridor that was new to me. This trail was just one component of a loop which also involved the Royce Connector Trail, and the East Royce Trail, plus a 15-minute road-walk along Rt. 113 from the East Royce trailhead back to my starting point at the Laughing Lion trailhead.
This hike was done in mid-May. The total distance for the loop was about 4 miles, and there was an elevation gain of about 2,000 ft. This loop is depicted on the Google Earth image shown below (Click on photo to enlarge).
|Google Earth image showing route of my loop hike|
As to how the Laughing Lion Trail got its name, I presume it was named after a popular rock climbing spot called Laughing Lion Cliff on the southeast slope of East Royce Mountain. I've not personally seen the "lion face", but must admit that I've not made a concerted effort to do so. Regardless, shown below is an image which I grabbed off the Internet from SummitPost.org. The "Laughing Lion" image is contained within the area circled in yellow. You really need to use your imagination to visualize the lion, but with any luck the image will eventually become apparent.
|Laughing Lion Cliff|
Several nice vistas of the surrounding mountains were seen during the course of this hike. In my opinion, the best locations for these were from various vantage points around the summit area of East Royce, as well as from ledges reached by a short bushwhack off the southeast side of the Royce Connector trail. In addition to the mountain vistas, there were also a couple of picturesque cascades along the route.
Shown below is a collection of photos taken during my hike.
|Some of the notable landmarks in this photo include Speckled Mountain (far left); ledges on Blueberry Mountain (just right of center); Pleasant Mountain (on distant horizon, far right)|
|Prominent landmarks in this photo include nearby West Royce (far right); Baldfaces (at center)|
|Zoomed image of Baldfaces|
|Caribou Mountain (far left); Speckled Mountain (far right)|
|Westward view from East Royce includes nearby West Royce (far left); mountains in Carter Range (behind and right of West Royce); and behind the Carter Range is Mt. Washington (right of center), and other peaks in the Presidential Range (far right)|
|Moose poop and moose fur (seen near summit of East Royce)|
|There were several stretches of trail with patches of snow that were above ankle-deep in spots|
|The only Springtime wildflower seen along the route was Purple Trillium|
~ THE END ~
ADDENDUM (added 19-May-2014):
For anyone who has difficulty with conjuring up an image of a Laughing Lion from the photo posted in this report, you are not alone!
Shown below is a slight enhancement of the photo. The eyes and mouth have been somewhat accentuated, and they have been labeled. But of course, this is only my perception of what constitutes the Laughing Lion image. Others might envision a Laughing Lion using other features of this rock formation.