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13 October 2016

An Autumn Visit to a Place Called Rocky Branch Dome


This will be a short report about a BIG view!

In early October 2016, I did an off-trail trek to a small 2,342 ft  peak.  It has no official name, but some refer to it as Rocky Branch Dome.  Below is a map which shows its location, as well as a general idea as to the route taken to get there.
Map showing location of Rocky Branch Dome.  Yellow highlighting shows general idea as to the route taken to get there.
I've visited this spot on several occasions.  My preferred route is to hike along the Rocky Branch Trail for about a mile; then head off the trail to bushwhack through the woods in a generally westerly direction for about a mile to arrive at a point about a tenth of a mile south of the summit; then head northward to reach the top.  The vast majority of the bushwhack is easy-going through open hardwoods; however the final tenth of a mile is gnarly and slow-going.

The unofficial name of Rocky Branch Dome is a fitting moniker for this place since the summit area is indeed a massive dome-shaped rock which is essentially barren, except for some widely-scattered patches of low-growing scrub.  This is an ideal setup for extensive views which are particularly breathtaking during the autumn foliage season.

Shown below are some photos taken during this adventure.


Looking northward up the Rocky Branch Valley into the Presidential Range Dry River Wilderness.  Mt. Washington is at center with its summit hidden by clouds.
View looking northwest.  At far left is Stairs Mountain; and to its right is a huge cliff which I think is named 'Back Stairs' by rock climbers, but am uncertain about that.  And, to the right of the huge cliff is a conifer-clad lump named East Stairs (2,967 ft) which is a peak on the NH 200-highest list.

Along my bushwhack route, I came across these large boulders stacked on top of each other, like a giant cairn.  Wonder how many thousands of years these boulders have been leading a perfectly 'balanced life'?

This snapshot was taken in the dim light toward the end of the day when trekking along the Rocky Branch Trail.  This "straight as an arrow"  section of trail follows the corridor of an old logging railroad (Rock Branch Railroad) that operated from 1908 to 1913.



Karl said...

Hi John,

If I could write in words a "wow" type whistling sound, I certainly would. The colors you captured of fall are wonderful!

The first two photos are incredible. The second showing a new perspective of Stairs Mountain for me.

I'm really surprised there's no published trail or even an unpublished trail to such an open peak with fantastic views. Thanks for sharing it.

BTW, how long was the trek all together?


1HappyHiker said...

Hi Karl,

So many thanks for your generous comments!

The ability to visit remote places like Rocky Branch Dome was a prime motivator for me getting into the sport of bushwhacking several years ago.

You asked “how long was the trek altogether”. In terms of overall distance (on-trail + off-trail), it was about 2 miles one-way. In terms of time, it took maybe about 1.5 hrs (one-way).


One Day in America said...

WOW! When you said "Big View" you really meant it!
This hike is why I really miss the east coast during autumn. Yes, we have some gorgeous aspens and cottonwoods, but nothing like the fall foliage of the eastern hardwood forests.
John, I'm glad that your hikes take you off the beaten path to access glorious areas (and views) like the ones shown in this post!
Thanks for letting me vicariously experience this wonderful fall trek!

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Rita,

Perhaps you would agree that autumn is a special time of year at any location where there are color changes on deciduous plants. Each of these locations have their own special “brand” of beauty. I’ve seen some beautiful autumn photos in your blog that you’ve taken at various locations in the western part of the U.S. where you live.

Thanks again for reading my blog and posting your comments.


Joshua Ebert said...

Great blog!

1HappyHiker said...

Thanks Joshua! Much appreciated!


Mike Cherim said...

Wow, this has just been added to my hike-to-someday list. Very cool summit.

1HappyHiker said...

Thanks, Mike, for stopping by my blog and posting your comment.

Maybe in addition to adding this to your "hike-to-someday" list, you could also consider "killing two birds with one stone" by leading an adventure-minded group to this location via your guide service, i.e.