Hiking Trail Conditions Report
Peaks Three Ponds, NH
Trails: Three Ponds Trail, Donkey Hill Cutoff, Mt. Kineo Trail
Date of Hike
Date of Hike: Sunday, July 5, 2020
Parking/Access Road Notes
Parking/Access Road Notes: Plenty of parking at the trailhead on Stinson Lake Road. Road is paved all the way to the trailhead (apparently this wasn't always the case). 10 other vehicles in the lot when I got there just before 11. Only two others besides mine still there when I got back just after 2. 
Surface Conditions
Surface Conditions: Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant 
Recommended Equipment
Recommended Equipment:  
Water Crossing Notes
Water Crossing Notes: All the major crossings were on snowmobile trails and had snowmobile bridges. Everything else was just easy rock hops. Crossing the muddy areas was sometimes more difficult than crossing the creeks. 
Trail Maintenance Notes
Trail Maintenance Notes: Mostly in good shape. There's mud in places, ranging from minor to significant. The place where Three Ponds Trail diverges from the snowmobile trail onto a footpath 1.3 miles from the trailhead has no sign - just a faded yellow blaze on a tree. It would be easy for a hiker who isn't paying attention to walk right past it. The WMG describes all the turns on Three Ponds Trail well though. There's a major blowdown on Mt. Kineo Trail less than a mile from Stinson Lake Rd., and a herd path is just beginning to develop around it. It would be better if the blowdown was removed though. All signs are in place, however if you're traveling south on Mt. Kineo Trail the sign for Donkey Hill Cutoff (and in fact the continuation of the trail) is easy to miss - don't stay on the snowmobile trail after crossing the bridge over Brown Brook! 
Dog-Related Notes
Dog-Related Notes: Didn't see any, but they should be fine. Don't let them run ahead though - they could easily go right by one of the turns. 
Bugs: Bugs were a constant presence throughout the hike - I suspect the rivers, ponds, and beaver meadows that this loop goes near makes this an unusually buggy area. I sprayed my hat and shirt with 30% DEET at the beginning, and I never felt like they were invading me, but I occasionally had to swat them away. Had a head net, but didn't feel the need to put it on. 
Lost and Found
Lost and Found: Nada. 
Comments: I was looking for an easier and less crowded redlining hike after my climb up Tecumseh yesterday, and I found it here. Despite the 10 cars at the trailhead when I arrived, the only other people I saw were a couple who were finishing their hike right as I was starting, and a group of four who were leaving Three Ponds Shelter just as I got there. Three Ponds Trail is easy - it's a snowmobile trail most of the time up to the junction with Donkey Hill Cutoff, but watch out for the turns off and onto footpaths. The only one of the ponds that I saw was the middle one, but it was very nice and had a view up to Carr Mountain on the other side. The shelter is quite large, and has a bunch of herd paths around it - I didn't explore them. At the junction with Donkey Hill Cutoff, I continued a few dozen extremely brushy yards to the crossing of Sucker Brook on the beaver dam, which actually didn't look as bad at first glance as the WMG described it. I'd recommend hiking poles for balance, but it could probably be crossed on the logs while keeping your feet dry.

Donkey Hill Cutoff was a nice trail, that was very muddy in places. The WMG describes it as "rough", but I didn't think it was any rougher than a normal footpath in the White Mountains. Mt. Kineo Trail started out as a brookside footpath for 1 or 2 tenths, passing a nice waterfall, then followed a snowmobile trail, and then, at a nicely signed area, turned right off it and followed a footpath that undulated gently along a gradual sidehill back to Three Ponds Trail.

This seems like it would be a good hike to do in November - the bugs would be gone, the leaves off the trees (meaning better views to the surrounding mountains), and the snow (and snowmobiles) wouldn't have arrived yet.  
Name: GN 
Date Submitted
Date Submitted: 2020-07-05 
Link: http:// 
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