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09 September 2015

Bushwhack to Millen Hill, NH: A Peak Recognized Since at Least the Year 1784


Recently I did a bushwhack to Millen Hill, NH.  This short hike (about 2 miles round-trip) fit nicely with the time that I had available.  And besides, 7 years had passed since I last visited this location.

The origin of Millen Hill's name is lost to history.  However, it is interesting to me that a peak as small and insignificant as Millen Hill is shown and is named on a 1784 map of New Hampshire, particularly since only a few mountains are included on this old map, and even fewer are named.  And even in the region known today as the Presidential Range, the individual high peaks are unnamed.  They are merely lumped together with a nondescript moniker of "The White Hills" (see far right of map snippet shown below).

Snippet from "A Topographic Map of the Province of New Hampshire", surveyed by Samuel Holland, printed by William Faden, London, 1784
(For any reader who might want to view the entire map, click HERE.)
As the crow flies, Millen Hill is only about 3.5 miles from the top of Mt. Washington.  In terms of its elevation, the summit canister labels it as 3,376 ft.  Slightly different elevation numbers for this peak are shown on various maps and lists.  For those interested in hiking lists, Millen Hill meets the criteria for inclusion on the list of NH 3,000 footers (click HERE to the view list).


There are herd paths directly opposite the Caps Ridge trailhead on the west side of Jefferson Notch Road which could tempt you to ascend via the east-facing slope of Millen Hill.  However, this approach involves negotiating a massive number of downed trees.  Several years ago, a very experienced individual advised me that it is far better to ascend via Millen Hill's north-facing slope.

Following this advice, I began my bushwhack off the west side of Jefferson Notch Road, but at a point about 350 ft north of the Caps Ridge trailhead parking lot.  From there, a WSW trajectory was followed before heading nearly due south to ascend the north-facing slope of Millen Hill.  A GPS track wasn't ran for this hike, but a rough depiction of my route is shown on the map below.
Rough depiction of my route to Millen Hill
Bushwhacking via this route is extremely easy.  There are open woods with fern patches and mossy areas.
Attractive woods for bushwhacking
Antler shed seen along route to Millen Hill
If you bushwhack southward from Millen Hill's summit for about a 100+ ft through some moderately thick scrub, you will find a tiny ledge/rocky area which offers some nice vistas toward the east, south and west.  But as you might suspect from the photo shown below, these are "stand-up" views only. :-)
This is the tiny ledge/rocky area on Millen Hill from which photos were taken.
(This snapshot was taken looking westward with the Presidential Range at my back.)
The next two photos were taken from Millen Hill looking eastward.
Panorama of eastward view from Millen Hill.  (View begins with Mt. Jefferson on far left, and progresses southward to peaks in southern Presidential Range)

Slightly zoomed view of Mt. Washington from Millen Hill
Shooting photos into the late-day western sun can be challenging.  Nonetheless, shown below is a poorly lit view from Millen Hill looking westward toward Bretton Woods and surrounding peaks.
View from Millen Hill looking westward toward Bretton Woods and surrounding peaks
I thought it might be of interest to include a snapshot taken on my previous visit to Millen Hill in early October 2008.  As can be seen, there was a light skiff of snow on the Presidential Range, and a cog railway car was billowing smoke while en route to the top of Mt. Washington.
Photo was taken on my previous visit to Millen Hill in early October 2008
To sum it up, Millen Hill is a worthy destination, but is primarily known only to peakbaggers and those who simply enjoy the challenge and rewards of off-trail travel.


JustJoe said...

That is interesting that Millen Hill is shown and named on such an old map. Perhaps the name origin, although lost, has something to do with that. Looking for something to do on a rainy day, while peak-bagging the NH3K's, I chose Millen Hill and Dartmouth from the same starting point as yours. Beautiful woods, saw a couple moose, but had no idea I'd missed out on that view. And even though it's a small, "stand-up view", there's nothing like the unique views you get from obscure ledges like that. As you, of all people, know full well.

Although I've done a few moderate hikes since my injury, there's been no bushwhacking. Once I'm able, this looks like the perfect whack to get back into the swing of things.

Thanks for sharing,

Larry Wood said...

hey, Two posts/virtual hikes in a week; what a nice treat. Just wanted you to know that your work on these posts appreciated. Happy trails indeed!

1HappyHiker said...

Thanks for your comments, Joe.

One of your comments led me to realize that my report gave no clue as to the location of the tiny ledge that offers the views shown in my photos. So, I’ve amended the report to include the following sentence.

“If you bushwhack southward from Millen Hill's summit for about a 100+ ft through some moderately thick scrub, you will find a tiny ledge/rocky area which offers some nice vistas toward the east, south and west.”

And, regarding the inclusion of the rather insignificant Millen Hill on the 1784 map, apparently there is some speculation about whether the map engraver mistakenly used the word “Millen”, rather than “Mitten”. Less than 2 miles to the north of Millen Hill, there is another small and insignificant peak which as early as 1781 was known as Mitten Hill, or Mitten Mountain. Today, it is called Mount Mitten. But regardless of whether the map should have read “Millen” or “Mitten”, it’s still curious as to why such a small mountain was named on this map when many larger mountains were unnamed. Perhaps it was just a simple matter of there being no generally accepted names for the larger mountains at that point in history??


1HappyHiker said...

Hey Larry . . . speaking of “treats”, it’s always a treat for me to receive feedback about postings to my blog. So, thank you for your feedback and for being such a loyal reader of my blog. Much appreciated!


Rita Wechter said...

Hi John,

Your speculation about the name of Millen Hill being possibly mistaken for Mitten Hill is a good one. But maybe Millen Hill was named for an "important" (at the time) fellow named Millen, who had some influence with the state or its mapmakers!
This looks like a scenic, wildlife-filled forest for a hike; it's always fun to find a shed antler. Our dog, Annie, would have picked up that antler and carried it home!
That photo from early October in 2008 is amazing—think you'll have snow that early this year??

1HappyHiker said...

Rita, thanks as always for taking time to read and post your comments about my blog postings.

Regarding your comment about the photo taken in early October 2008, it doesn’t happen on a regular basis, but it’s a treat when there is a light dusting of snow to enhance the colorful Autumn foliage season. However, you will note that I specified a “light” dusting of snow. As you can well imagine, when the trees still have leaves, the weight of a heavy snow can cause significant tree damage from broken limbs, etc.


JimmyO said...

I truly enjoy your posts as well John!. They take me to places I ordinarily wouldn't find myself so far up in NH. The maps and GPS supplements are outstanding and separate you from other such blogs. Photos are great, but the supplements further feed my "visual" learning style Thanks and keep it up!

1HappyHiker said...

Thank you JimmyO for your feedback. It's great to know that inclusion of maps in my blog postings is useful to you. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

I'm very appreciative of you being a loyal follower of my blog.


Karl said...

Hi John - This is truly and awesome post (and trek)! This is one of the many reasons I read this blog. Your historical synopsis of the region draws me right in. I love the old map you found and it really makes you wonder why that hill was significant to that particular map maker. You know there's a reason, but like you said about the origins of the name, it was lost many years ago!

I think hikes like this, off trail, less traveled, etc.are much better than anything described in the guides. Thanks for continuing to create an incredible "less traveled guide" for hikers like me!


1HappyHiker said...


Your feedback is so appreciated! Thank you!

Someday I hope to have more time to do the necessary research to write
similar reports that delve into the history of the area where the hike
occurred. But for the time-being, a major chunk of my time is spent
trying to come up with new hikes by studying maps and doing various
off-trail explorations, some of which work out, and some that don't! :-)

Best wishes to you for many 'happy trails'!