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09 May 2016

Bushwhack to Artist Rock in Shelburne, NH


If you're in the Shelburne, NH area and in a "bushwhacking frame of mind", then you might want to consider a trek to Artist Rock (not to be confused with Artist's Bluff in Franconia Notch, NH).   This can be done entirely on public WMNF land.  The route I took covered a distance of one-mile (one-way), and only took about 45 minutes to reach the ledges on the south end of Artist Rock.  I wouldn't describe the views as blockbuster or "knock your socks off", but they are pleasant nonetheless.

When doing this hike in early May 2016, I parked on the north side of U.S. 2 at a pull-off area that is labeled on the map as 'Scenic Easement'.  Directly opposite this spot, on the south side of the road, is a man-made cliff created when carving out the highway corridor.  To avoid this, I walked eastward for about 0.1 mile along the shoulder of the road looking for a better spot to enter the woods.  Once a spot was found, it was an easy bushwhack to Artist Rock.

Shown below is a map with my GPS track overlaid.

Bushwhacking to Artist Rock really didn't involve much 'whacking of bushes'. There were open woods from start to finish.

Upon arrival at the ledges on Artist Rock, I was greeted with the Springtime scene shown in the next photo.  Shadbush was in bloom at various points along the transition area between woods and ledge.

Several "busy bees" were also attracted to the Shadbush blossoms.  Shown below is a close-up of one of them.

The next photo shows the view from Artist Rock looking due south.  Howe Peak is the largest lump toward the left side of photo, and the much larger lump seen just right of center is Shelburne-Moriah Mountain.  You might notice the lack of any signs of civilization in this photo.  In large part, this is due to the close proximity of the Wild River Wilderness Area (less than 3 miles away).  At the time this blog was written, information about this wilderness area could be accessed by clicking HERE.

Shown below is the view from Artist Rock looking SSW.  Shelburne-Moriah Mountain is the large mass seen at left side of the photo.  And regarding the very distant mountains seen on the horizon at the far right, my best guess is that these are peaks in the Crescent Range.

UPDATE (added 31-Aug-2017):  In late August 2017 I did a bushwhack hike in an area south of Artist Rock on public land within the White Mountain National Forest.  While so doing, I came across an old logging cut which provided a nice view of the cliffs on Artist Rock.  However, since this cut was done several years ago it was filled with a lot of regrowth.  I was standing waist-deep in briers and young saplings when I took the photo seen below.  This view will be gone in a few years once the saplings grow into mature trees.

Zoomed view of south-facing cliffs on Artist Rock

Un-zoomed view of cliffs on Artist Rock and surrounding area.  Mt. Ingalls is seen behind and just to right of the cliffs, and the larger mountain behind Mt. Ingalls is Mt. Success.



If you take another look at the map presented earlier in this report, you will see the words "Scenic Easement".  Once upon a time, you could get a nice view directly from the roadside pull-off itself.   However, the trees have since grown up and block the view.  So now if you want to get a similar view, then you need to do as I did, which is to follow a short pathway that leads from the pull-off down to the railroad tracks.

Shown below is a photo collage.  One of my Facebook friends (Sally Dinsmore Baldwin) beautifully captured the "once upon a time" scene in a painting that she did in 2003, as seen in the TOP PANEL.  The BOTTOM PANEL shows a photo I took of this scene, as viewed from the railroad tracks.  (This vista includes the Androscoggin River in the foreground with foothills to the Mahoosuc mountains in the background.)


TO SUM IT UP: Just as a final footnote, once on the Artist Rock ledges, I fully expected to find some evidence of a bootleg trail, but there was nothing that was obvious.  Maybe there is none, or maybe I was looking in all the wrong places.  Regardless, subsequent to doing this trek, I was told by a life-long resident of Shelburne that years ago there was a pathway to the ledges that came up from the west, at a point along Losier Road.  However, that approach is on a parcel of private land which the current landowner is unreceptive to allowing public access.



Rita Wechter said...

Hi John,

I was happy to see the Sally Baldwin painting in the post about Artist Rock. Do you think Artist Rock got it's name because people sat on the ledges to paint the beautiful scenery?

I'm very happy to hear that a wilderness area is near this hike. It's refreshing to gaze on vistas unmarred by human civilization and development.

That's a pretty shot of the Shadbush. I'm looking forward to hearing about—and seeing photos of—spring wildflowers on your May hikes!

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Rita,

Regarding the derivation of the name “Artist Rock”, no one seems to know for certain. However, as you surmised, most seem to feel that the name indeed is related to artists who “back in the day” would do paintings from that location. It would be a fun research project to try to locate an old painting that was done from there.


Unknown said...

Hey John,

It's pretty neat to see so many pictures of where I grew up most of my life. Artist rock was actually directly behind my grandparents house. I took only 2 trips up there, once in the foliage season which my first trek up that mountain, which was absolutely spectacular. The second I took was in the inter time which was nice too (minus the fact of the 6 feet of snow I trudged through.). Still cool to see pictures of shelburne like this.

- Austin

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Austin,

Thanks for reading my blog, and taking time to post your comments!

Glad you liked seeing the photos. And, it must have been delightful to grow up in a place as attractive as Shelburne, and to have grandparents whose house was located behind Artist Rock!

Best wishes to you for many happy trails!