During mid-December, there are less than 9 hours of daylight in the northern part of New Hampshire where I live. Oftentimes, I will often use these days of decreased daylight to do some short treks to investigate possibilities for longer hikes when daylight hours are longer. This blog posting will describe one such trek that was undertaken in mid-December 2017.
My primary goal for this trek was a rather laid-back objective of visiting a viewpoint along the lower end of the Benton Trail. This viewpoint is located a little over a mile from the trailhead on the Tunnel Brook Trail (formerly FR 700). For any reader who might be unfamiliar with hiking trails in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the overall length of the Benton Trail is 3.6 miles, and it is one of several trails leading to the 4,802 ft. peak named Mt. Moosilauke.
In addition to visiting the viewpoint along the Benton Trail, I had a secondary goal of investigating the work being done to extend a forest road (designated as FR 170) which is currently being used as an access route for logging operations. I checked with the Forest Service to make sure that there would be no active logging on the day of my hike.
Until recently, FR 170 ended at a point north of Little Tunnel Brook. However, it has now been extended and it crosses over the brook on a well-constructed bridge. And, as best I could determine, the road extends southward beyond the bridge for quite a distance. But, as to how far southward, that will need to be the subject of another investigative trek (see FOOTNOTE at end of this report). Time was short, and not knowing what twists and turns the road might take, I opted to leave FR 170 at a certain point and bushwhack for a few tenths of a mile to intersect the Benton Trail, and then continue onward along the trail to the viewpoint mentioned earlier.
My interest in the FR 170 corridor stems from the following. After further extension of the road is completed, and after logging is done, PERHAPS this corridor could offer a means of accessing the Benton Trail without having to cross Tunnel Brook. This could be particularly advantageous at times of high water when this crossing can be challenging using the current-day approach from the Tunnel Brook Trail.
Shown below is the GPS track for my entire hike, from beginning to end.
|GPS track for my entire hike, from beginning to end|
Below are some of the photos taken on this trek. They are presented in no particular order.
|From my targeted viewpoint along the Benton Trail, there is a view northward toward the Kinsman Mountain Range (just left of center). In the distance are peaks in the Pilot Range, and other mountains in northern NH.|
|Zoomed view of the Kinsmans from viewpoint along the Benton Trail.|
|Climbing to the sun! Photo taken on a segment of the Benton Trail where it is heading in a southward direction.|
|Photo shows an example of the open-woods that were present for the entire bushwhack between FR 170 and the Benton Trail.|
|Photo shows a portion of FR 170 and the very nice bridge that has been built over Little Tunnel Brook.|
|Even though there was no logging activity on the day of my hike, this photo shows that equipment is in-place, and there is a load of harvested trees ready to be transported for processing.|
TO SUM IT UP:
As I’ve said in other blog postings, a destination can be whatever you want it to be! Just because a trail leads to a named mountaintop, it doesn't mean you must go to the top of that mountain. If for whatever reason, you only want to hike a portion of the trail, that's okay. Hiking is hiking!
During a trek in late May 2018, it was confirmed that FR 170 crosses over the Benton Trail well above (east) of Tunnel Brook. And so, using FR 170 to access the Benton Trail might be an alternative to consider at times of high water. But before considering this route, it would be advisable to check with the Pemigewasset Ranger District (603) 536-6100) about any active logging operations along the FR 170 corridor.