|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||Wildcat E, Wildcat D, Wildcat C, Wildcat B, Wildcat A, NH|
||Prospect Farm Road, old roads, bushwhack, Wildcat Ridge Trail, Nineteen Mile Brook Trail, Wildcat River Trail|
|Date of Hike:
||Sunday, September 19, 2021|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||I find the parking situation here rather confusing although I also didn't read the guidebook before this hike so I suppose it's my own fault. Carter Notch Rd has many no parking signs along it and some private property ones as well but just keep driving. Seems like you can't do wrong unless you drive through a gate. The furthest in you can get is the Bog Brook Trailhead which is just to the right of a gate on Carter Notch Rd. I parked here, along with a few other cars. There's room for a half dozen plus I think. Not a very busy trailhead. |
||Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||All crossings were rock hopable at the time although the ones near the bottom of Wildcat River Trail can often be difficult to hop across. |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||Wildcat Ridge Trail is blazed in white as it coincides with the AT. 19MB Trail is blazed in blue since it connects with the AT although I can't say if it's blazed along the short section of it I was on. I can't say for sure but I think Wildcat River Trail is blazed in yellow. Not as well travelled as other trails but easy to follow if you've got some experience. I think there may be an obscure turn or two. No blowdowns I recall several weeks after the hike ;P |
||A bit of the scrambling up the Wildcat Ridge on the bushwhack might have been a bit sketchy for a dog. And of course, not all dog owners might trust their dog to stay with them while bushwhacking. Wildcat Ridge Trail has some scrambles, particularly between D and C that some dogs may struggle with but they are not particularly hard. |
|Lost and Found:
||Prospect Farm Road, old roads, bushwhack (abandoned Wildcat Brook Trail), Wildcat Ridge Trail, 19 Mile Brook Trail, Wildcat River Trail |
Another very late trail report. The purpose of posting this is for those that may be interested in the route. I believe these were my 16th and 17th 4000 footers that counted toward my grid for September out of 26 needed. A nice, sunny, dry day, if a bit chilly at times.
The objective was to follow the route of the abandoned Wildcat Brook Trail up to the ridge. From there, I'd take the ridge across all the peaks, gridding out the Wildcats, then head down to the notch and out the Wildcat River Trail. The abandoned trail in its description in old version of the WMG is said to start along a woods road to the north. From old maps, it seemed the road started between 2000 and 2100ft. An old phone, with a different version of Gaia, showed many roads around this area but none precisely at the right contour. Neither did my newer phone with a newer version of Gaia which showed less roads leading off of Prospect Farm Rd and soon dead-ending. Just below 2100ft though, I saw an old road, not shown on either of my phones, leading into the woods. Going off of location, this of course seemed like themost likely candidate so I headed down it. I followed it north for close to 0.2mi before it ended. It seemed like perhaps a faint path or a road continued in this direction but it got real thick and the thickness included some thorn bushes, so I opted to bang a left (west) and walk all of maybe 100ft to the 0.5mi long road shown on Gaia. I intersected this road about halfway down its length (0.25mi) and followed it to its end around 2200ft. I then started whacking north and west a bit, coming across other paths/roads, one of which seemed to come from the direction of the first road I was on which was the most likely candidate for where the old trail started. I came across some old logging relics around here too. I believe that was around 2250ft. I then headed due north, descending slightly to meet Wildcat Brook at 2200ft running into overgrown roads at times again. I walked along the brook briefly, where there appeared to be a herd path following it for 0.1mi before turning left (west) away from the brook again. I did this because I felt like I saw a herd path. Of course it eventually faded. I passed a very washed out tributary along the way. I ascended to 2450-2500ft before hitting a pretty obvious old road. I then turned right on it (north) and followed it just sligthly uphill. It soon came to an open field shown as white on my version of Gaia (slides and other open areas are shown as white too). The road of course soon became very overgrown. There was a clear path heading right (east) down from the field. I followed it and although it was quite clear at first, it soon became less so and thus I began whacking again a short ways above the brook. I did this until 2650ft where I'd set a waypoint telling me to turn sligthly west of north and begin the real ascent. Upon consulting the old map again though, I realized I'd set this waypoint too far along the brook because what the old trail seemed to do was follow a northwestern branch of the brook up whereas I'd passed, based upon the co tour lines on Gaia) this branch almost 0.25mi earlier. So I'd recommend starting to whack up closer to 2550ft instead, closer to the field I was at earlier.
Because of this mistake, unless I wanted to head up some extremely steep stuff that seemed to indicate some cliffs on Gaia, I had to head due just south of west for almost a quarter mile before again heading northwest to Wildcat E. Around 2600ft the woods began to change and become mixed. As I worked my way steeply uphill beginning at 2650ft, I? began to hit some scratchy, thicker stuff which wasn't so nice but nothing too terrible. When I hit 3000ft, I began heading northwest again the woods became more open although with many blowdowns (not a blowodown area, just a lot of blowdowns). I stayed on this bearing to just above 3900ft, crossing the Widcat Valley Ski Trail at 3650ft in an area where it was very green, mossy, and wet. Shortly beyond crossing the Wildcat Valley Ski Trail, the grade became much steeper, and I had to use trees to pull myself up. Some thicker stuff as well. No rock scrambling, just very steep.
I hit the southern ridge of Wildcat E just above 3900ft and then headed due north to the summit. This area was mostly flat as expected but incredibly thick so this felt like it took an absurdly long time. Things started to open up as I got close to the summit although getting up the final cone was a bit difficult due to how steep and rocky it was. I circled around to the right (east) some and finagled my way up and soon came to a herd path that leads to Wildcat Ridge Trail. This herd path leads to a rock where there used to be a view. I believe it was here, and at some points earlier, I got some views through the trees toward the Baldfaces. Once on the trail, I soon walked over to the true summit, then, where the trail comes down some boulders/rock steps and turns, if you turn sharply right, you'll note a herd path on your right leading to a campsite. I think this was more likely where the abandoned trail came in.
In retrospect, I wasted a lot of time on this hike down low, exploring various herd paths and such that I figured might be fruitful. I seemed to be too close to the brook down low whenever the old maps showed the trail away from it and vice versa. I didn't quite get the northwest line right up high either. I shouldn't have really hit the southern ridge of Wildcat E as I did. The other difficult thing to discern is where exactly this northwest branch of the brook is that the old trail followed to the left (west) of. Looking at contour lines on Gaia, there seem to be two drainages: one, the one I overshot as described above, seems to start at the right elevation but would appear, based on contour lines, to hit the souther ridge of Widcat E far south of the peak where the old trail went nowhere near. The other drainage I'm seeing is a ways above where I left the brook and heads up VERY steeply, seemingly through cliffs based upon how close the contour lines are. Although this drainage better follows the right bearing, it seems to start too far north. And it seems unlikely that the trail would have followed something so steep. This isn't the first time that an old, zoomed-out map doesn't seem to quite jive with our current maps though.
I enjoyed running into the Old Man and the Saw along the ridge and stopping to chat and share adventures. I also took a more lesuirely pace and enjoyed the views at the col between D and E peaks. Once on A, I dropped down to the notch, walked alongside the ponds where there were many people, and walked by the hut which I hadn't been to in a few years. I enjoyed my walk down Wildcat River Trail. The trail really does have a gentle grade and a pretty nice footbed. I'd forgotten. If only it went all the way up to A Peak at such a nice grade and not the notch...now that would be a great trail!
||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.