|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||Whaleback Mountain, Mt. Flume, Mt. Liberty, Mt. Lincoln, South Whaleback, NH|
||Herd paths, Abandoned Osseo Trail, Osseo Trail, Franconia Ridge Trail, bushwhack|
|Date of Hike:
||Sunday, August 29, 2021|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||Parked at the visitor parking in the back of Clearbrook rd/condo area. One other car there (hiker) leaving when we returned. Spotted another car at Lincoln Woods. There were still many available spots between 6:45 and 7am but there were still MANY cars parked overnight on the road from overflow from Saturday. |
||Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||One crossing on the abandoned Osseo has a great dam/log bridge built across. Made that crossing very easy. I’m sure in high water, the dam would be under water though. All other crossings were rock hopable; one of them involved stepping on a barely submerged rock. Not too challenging though. |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||Saw at least one. Most hiking dogs could probably handle this hike. |
|Lost and Found:
||Only blowdowns that I recall were on the abandoned portion of Osseo Trail. One large one that will likely forever remain there down low. A few smaller ones up higher. All in all, in great shape for an “abandoned” trail. No trailhead obviously. I think it’s blazed in red (or at least is marked by a large red blaze at the very beginning) starting from the Clearwater condo association and then is blazed in yellow (relatively well, especially when compared to many other trails leading to 4000 footers) from where it intersects where the old trail truly came from which is from another condo association/private residence where you cannot park. The trail is eroded at times and could be rerouted around at least one very muddy section down low but not too far from the steeps. |
Gridded out the month with my 18th, 19th, and 20th grid peaks for August. The plan was to ascend old Osseo, possible whack to S Whaleback, hit Flume, Liberty, and Lincoln for my grid, then descend Lincoln Slide and take Lincoln Brook, Black Pond Bushwhack and Trail and Lincoln Woods Trail out to where we spotted a car. Due to time concerns we skipped S Whaleback on the way up, and decided not to do Lincoln Slide since the peaks were in the clouds the entire time we were up there and it didn’t seem to likely they’d clear. Things were wet too. Oh, well. Lincoln Slide will have to come in October! So, instead we went back down the way we came hitting South Whaleback on the way down.
I thoroughly enjoyed the abandoned Osseo Trail. A nice warm, flattish warm up at the beginning, followed by a very stiff climb, eventually contouring and moderating, followed by a very long, flat climb through a beautiful, lightly travelled green, mossy heaven 🤤 Although the trail was eroded at times, mostly on the very steep ascent, the trail, by and large, had excellent footing! Something rarely found in the White Mountains and greatly appreciated. Especially on the garden path through the mossy heaven up top. Even if your knees weren’t too happy in the very steep descent of Whaleback at least your feet were happy ;) Only downsides were of course the very steep climb to Whaleback and the very muddy section not too long before that. At a brisk pace, I think it took us less than 2.5hrs to reach the jct with the new Osseo Trail. So not sure this took any longer than the normal route even if it had a smidge more elevation. Really not much more challenging. Make sure to stay to the right at the yellow marked cairn at a 4-way intersection a short ways into the trail. There’s even several little few spurs!...where we could see nothing but cloud :/ On Whaleback, we looked for the high point as we thought it was on the 500 highest list (it’s not). We found some old string but no jar just to the left of another little view in a flat area. We agreed that this was a short distance after what we thought was the true high point which was two seemingly equal little bumps on either side of the trail.
Reaching the jct with Osseo Trail, we noted that while if looking in the proper direction, the trail was obvious enough, it would be very easy to walk by because it’s almost perpendicular to the trail and thus not really in your field of vision whether you’re ascending or descending. We continued up to Flume. Some wet trail and rock along the ridge but nothing too slick. Not a fun of the rocky, eroded, and steep ridge between Flume and Liberty. We took the herd path just south of the summit of Liberty to avoid the wet slab. No views not the summit but not as windy as predicted. We made the steep descent down to Liberty Springs jct and continued on to Little Haystack. Last two times I’ve been on this portion of Franconia Ridge Trail now I’ve been very surprised at how many people are on it. Seem to be more than between Little Haystack and Lafayette!!! Of course a few are AT hikers but not all of them! This portion of trail has some mud but is generally very pleasant particularly on your way back where there’s hardly any ascent :) We popped out above tree line on Little Haystack and headed over to Lincoln. Stopped there to eat and eventually decide against Lincoln Slide.
Headed back the way we came and decided to whack to S Whaleback on our descent. We started just southwest of the col which is the closest the abandoned Osseo Trail gets to the col. We took a more of less direct line from here to the first (northwest) bump of S Whaleback. It’s about 0.2mi from the trail. The woods are descent so long as you stick to the west/southwest side of it. Southwest/south of it the woods get worse. Reaching that, we followed the ridge to then southeast summit where the high point and canister are. Had to make sure we were on the right track to start but soon enough (shortly before the col) the ridge narrows and thus its very easy to follow. No followable herd path per se but enough humans have been up there to make it easy enough; picked the best looking woods along the ridge and it turned out fine. The high point is in the southeast of the highest contour; not far from being outside of it.
We signed in and headed back to the northwest bump before heading back to the trail. I took ya in the right direction, but just to the left (southwest) of where we came up and the woods weren’t so great here so we heard a little further north, crossing our path on the way up and made our way back. We overcompensated a little and ended up a little closer to the col. No problem, a short walk back to the trail and down we went!
A wonderful, cool, cloudy, and wet day to be out :)!
||Liam Cooney |
Disclaimer: Reports are not verified - conditions may vary. Use at own risk. Always be prepared when hiking. Observe all signs. Trail conditions reports are not substitutes for weather reports or common sense.