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25 June 2018

A Trek to Gentian Pond (Shelburne, NH) and Slightly Beyond


In mid-June 2018, I did a trek that involved hiking to Gentian Pond by traveling the entire length of the Austin Brook Trail, plus an additional hike eastward from the pond for about a 0.5 mile on the Mahoosuc Trail (part of the Appalachian Trail).  The purpose of the additional half-mile segment along the Mahoosuc Trail was to gain access to some ledges overlooking Gentian Pond and the surrounding area.  The round-trip journey was about 8 miles with about an 1,800 ft elevation gain.

Just as point of interest, Gentian Pond is a tarn situated at 2,165 feet along a ridgeline in the Mahoosuc mountain range.  It was discovered in 1876 by Eugene B. Cook and Lucia and Marian Pychowska who explored this region of New Hampshire during the 1870s.  Along the pond’s shoreline, these early adventurers came upon wildflowers known as Bottle Gentian, and thus decided to confer the name of Gentian Pond to this body of water.

My route of travel for this hike is highlighted in pink on this map.

The hike began and ended at the Austin Brook Trailhead with its unique turnstile for entry and exiting the trail.  (The turnstile allows hikers access but obstructs access to motorized vehicles such as ATVs, etc.)
At the Gentian Pond Shelter is a log structure with two platforms for sleeping.  It’s located at the northern-most end of the Austin Brook Trail.  A short connector trail links the shelter to the Mahoosuc Trail (part of the Appalachian Trail).
A view from inside the Gentian Pond Shelter looking toward mountains in the Evans Notch area of Maine
Gentian Pond as viewed from a point along its south shoreline
While en route to the ledges above the pond, I paused to snap a quick photo of one of the white blazes along this segment of the Appalachian Trail (locally assigned name is the Mahoosuc Trail)
Seen here is the northernmost end of Gentian Pond, along with a portion of Mt. Washington and Boott Spur in the distance at upper left.  Getting this view entails hiking about a half-mile eastward along the Mahoosuc Trail and then doing a steep but short (about 75 feet) bushwhack to ledges off the west side of the Mahoosuc Trail.  The ledges are not visible from the trail corridor.
Highly-zoomed image of Mt. Washington and Boott Spur, as viewed from an off-trail ledge located a short distance off the Mahoosuc Trail
Little things seen along the trail can add to the overall hiking experience.  Smaller beauties seen and photographed on this trek included pink Lady Slipper wildflowers; a distant view of Dryad Falls; Dragonflies; and a lone mushroom who picked a poor location to take up residence on a bog bridge where one misstep by a hiker could spell disaster for this little guy!


This was yet another of my adventures that I sometimes refer to as “peak-less hikes”.  Hiking to the top of mountains can be very enjoyable.  But as I and others have discovered, hikes to “peak-less” destinations can also bring great joy and satisfaction. :-)


One Day in America said...

Once again, great photos and story, John! I love the view from the Gentian Pond Shelter—what a wonderful place to spend a night. I also enjoyed the little things found along this trail, especially that lone mushroom. And finally, that turnstile is a wonderful device for keeping out those destructive ATVs. Great post!

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Rita,

Glad you enjoyed the photo collage showing some of the little things seen during this hike. And to think that the photo collage only captures the little things that can be seen. As I know you know, there are many other little things that can only be captured in-person, such as fragrances and sounds, or the woods when they are silent and peaceful.