Hiking Trail Conditions Report
Peaks Owls Head Mountain, Owls Head - The Head, Owls Head - The Ears (Spire), NH
Trails: Lincoln Woods Trail, Franconia Falls Trail, bushwhacks, Owl's Head Path, herd paths, Lincoln Brook Trail, Black Pond Trail
Date of Hike
Date of Hike: Monday, September 27, 2021
Parking/Access Road Notes
Parking/Access Road Notes: $5/day USFS lot at Lincoln Woods. Plenty of room on a Monday morning and evening although still a few cars on the road due to overflow over the weekend.  
Surface Conditions
Surface Conditions: Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant 
Recommended Equipment
Recommended Equipment:  
Water Crossing Notes
Water Crossing Notes: Tricker than I expected. I knew that water was still a bit high and I'd wade if I had to but it looked to me like water would be low enough for a regular rock hop. First off, Franconia Brook seemed to still be raging as I walked along the Fisheman's Path/bushwhack. I most certainly didn't want to have to cross that. Where I lost the path and started wondering in/out of washed out areas and little islands, I already hit some spots that were hard to just rock hop across. When Fisherman's Path ended and I came to Lincoln Brook Trail, I then had to cross Lincoln Brook. Not as bad as Franconia Brook but still no way to get across without wading... at first glance ;) I walked maybe 100ft upstream and found a very large downed tree across the brook. I rock hopped to get to it, then clambered onto it. Not wanting to risk falling in walking on top of it, I butt scootched. Still a little nerve wracking as I had to swing my legs over all its branches and walk over one large one at the far side of it but it was doable. No other major crossings until I was headed down. The crossings on Lincoln Brook Trail between the Brutus Bushwhack and the Black Pond Bushwhack were difficult without getting your feet wet. I managed the first one succesffuly with dry feet somehow and by the grace of God did the same for the second one until God reminded me that I'm a doofus and had me slip on a slimy rock on the far side and fall in the water. Oops. Doesn't look like there'll really be any rain accumulation the next few days so they should be back to a more typical rock hop soon.  
Trail Maintenance Notes
Trail Maintenance Notes:  
Dog-Related Notes
Dog-Related Notes: These trails would probably be good for most dogs so I guess it would depend on whether or not you trust them on a bushwhack. I also would've been concerned for small and maybe even mid-sized dogs yesterday with the water crossings. I knew they'd still be a bit high but they definitely did not come down as much as I thought they would have. 
Bugs: None 
Lost and Found
Lost and Found: I found a tent while whacking up the southern ridge of Owls Head. If it's yours lemme know! Otherwise, you may very well help me pick up that whole camping thing ;) 
Comments: Owls Head Mountain, Owls Head - The Head, Owls Head - The Ears (Spire)

There are some blowdowns along Owls Head Path that may likely remain since it's not an offocial trail. Nothing else that I recall. No blaze on the other trails as far as I remember other than some yellow on Black Pond Trail. All the actual trails (Lincoln Woods, Black Pond, and Lincoln Brook are well trodden though. Just a couple spots that could be a little obscure to a beginner on Lincoln Brook Trail. Same with Owls Head Path and I think Black Pond "Bushwhack" is now very followable as well. Brutus Bushwhack a little less so.
The first half or so of the Fisherman's Path is very clear but then I lost it.

Finally got my 26th grid peak for the month and gridded out the month (got behind on trail reports...will try to post more later) on Owls Head. I wasn't thrilled about the forecast but it did nothing but sprinkle until maybe 3pm or so when it began to rain but only lightly. Never felt the need for rain pants (although it would've been a different story had I been whacking as it was raining) but I did use my rain jacket. It did seem to rain a bit earlier perhaps on the summit as the vegetation closer to the summit did get my pants wet at the end of the day. Beyond that, I really lucked out with things being dry on my whack. It was cool, windy, and sometimes wet so fleece was worn at times as were winter gloves and had I not been so lazy, I would've even got my hat out from my pack too. It's that time of year.

Lincoln Woods Trail was mostly dry and quiet in the morning save some mud pits. Nice to be on Franconia Falls Trail again as it's been a few years. Beuatiful falls with all the rain we got last Friday evidently still coming off the mountains. There is a sign stating that the trail ends shortly beyond where Gaia says it ends. If you're looking for the Fisherman's Path/bushwhack, continue beyond it. The path is very clear at its start and follows the brook very closely for a ways. About 1/3mi in, the brook bends right and the trail continues straight and thus is no lojger so close to it. It feels like it is at times though as there's litle tributaries here and there and islands and such, many of which may be relatively new from storm damage and could have destroyed the old herd path here (I'm just hypothesizing). I believe the path crosses at least one of the tributaries here. But this is where I get confused because unless the path weaves in and out of these islands and tributaries, I lost it. It felt like I was still on a herd path albeit a less defined one than earlier, but why would this path that's meant to avoif Franconia Brook, cross its tributaries so much? They're easier to cross of course but still. Again, perhaps they're newer due to storm damage. I did find a fire pit on one of these little islands. I whacked to the left (west) thinking the path may be in the woods a ways away from all the water mess but found no trace. Determined now to just bushwhack to where BP bushwhack enters Lincoln Brook Trail, I did eventually hit a path again as it now follows Lincoln Brook. At times, fairly defined. Other times, not so much. I certainly found it a helluva lot more difficult to follow than BP whack but I also didn't do my due diligence to research this enough as I'd heard it was a legit herd path; oh well. Once I figure this one out I'd be likely to redo it though. Certainly more scenic than Black Pond whack and flatter.

I came out on Lincoln Brook Trail and decided that it was as good a time as any to cross the brook and begin my whack (see water crossing notes above). Now on the north side of Lincoln Brook, I whacked northwest through the hardwoods to 2000ft, crossing the drainage about halfway across this northwest line. I checked my progress and saw that I headed northwest too long and was getting too far away from the drainage so then corrected my course and headed roughly north, roughly following, but not very close to, the drainage. The idea was to take the drainage up to just west of the 3060ft flat bump that I *think* is referred to as the Head of the Owl (all the different features of the mountain confuse me, please feel free to email and correct me here) trying to avoid the cliffs and the steepest stuff. That said, from roughly 2000ft to there is steep. And the terrain gets increasingly rocky, bouldery as you ascend and you've got to negotiate your way through them and try not to break a leg postholing in the duff between them ;) But don't worry, if you get to this part it just means you're making progress!! Not sure exactly where this started and it was a transition but I'll say probably abut 2400ft and no more than 2600ft. The woods transitioned around the latter but weren't bad/thick.

At about 2950ft, I saw that I was just a smidgen too far east and on the wrong side of the drainage so circled to the left (or at least that's what I should have done...I kind of cut the difference and did a half-hearted scramble up)and came up the backside of the 3060ft flat bump. No recognized anything here. I think distance from end of the BP bushwhack to this 3060ft bump is a little over a mile if whacking. It took me 1.5hrs I think. I thought there'd be an open/ledge or boulder or something but unfortunately there wasn't much to see. I poked around a bit but didn't wander too much. The woods are scrappy but relatively open here. I walked north along the flat "summit" before heading east up the Spire of the (big) Ear of the Owl. It's about 1/4-1/3mi of (more) steep whacking gaining abiut 600ft. The woods are descent. The high point of this larger Ear is clear an recognized with a very small black canister only put there in 2019. I found it interesting how few people signed in given how many people I know have been there. Only a few entries, some of them by the same person three times ;) One noted that there were cats around the summit! There appeared to be a herd path now heading northwest to what I think is the secod but much less prominent Ear. It quickly disappeared but the ridge from here to the summit of the 4000 footer Owls Head is usually pretty narrow and thus all the bushwhackers are in the same place thus there is definitely signs of human traffic and the appearance of a herd path forming at times. It was similar, in this way, to the ridge between Hancock and Northwest Hancock. The ridge was uneventful and easy except for 1) when I found a tent (see abvove)! and 2) shortly before reaching the trail where the terrain just became a blowdown mess. Maybe you coukd sneak your way around this but you're so close to the trail at that point that I'd say just push through it. The woods did become a bit thicker before this too but nothing bad. I really enjoyed this ridge walk!!

I came out right where the trail gains the ridge and turns left (north - left if ascending). I think this is where everyone starts/finishes this whack. The walk from there to Owls Head is always longer than I think as it is from that point down to the start of Brutus. No one seen from along the ridge or summit until I was back on Lincoln Woods and even then I hardly saw anyone. Brutus I think can still be obscure in a few spots, likely more so when descending. Namely where it turns left around the area of the drainage (and the winter route usually turns left sooner, no?) and one spot with some tricky turns/contouring up higher. A bit of a pain coming down Brutus with some loose mud/erosion. The trip out seemed harder than the bushwhacking I did between all the mud, water crossings, and slippery footing. What a pain.

Gaia says my total bushwhack was 2.5mi and it took me between 3hr-3.25hrs. I had planned originally on descending the eastern ridge but given how the water crossings were and I reached the summit just before it was predicted to rain, I opted not to. Guess we'll be saving that and Lincoln Slide for next month! If you want in or have any questions please feel free to reach out to the email below :)  
Name: Liam Cooney 
Date Submitted
Date Submitted: 2021-09-28 
Link: https:// 
Bookmark and Share 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.

Copyright 2009-2019, All Rights Reserved