Hiking Trail Conditions Report
Peaks Owl's Head, NH
Trails: Lincoln Woods Trail, Black Pond Trail, herd path, Lincoln Brook Trail, herd path, Owls Head Path
Date of Hike
Date of Hike: Sunday, October 24, 2021
Parking/Access Road Notes
Parking/Access Road Notes: Lincoln Woods Lot, though mostly full, still had plenty of spots available shortly past 7am. The bathrooms were closed for some press on (I didn’t read the sign and don’t know if it said why) and there were porta potties in place of them over on the left side of the lot. $5/day USFS fee.  
Surface Conditions
Surface Conditions: Dry Trail, Ice - Black, Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Ice - Breakable Crust, Standing/Running Water on Trail, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant, Leaves - Significant/Slippery 
Recommended Equipment
Recommended Equipment:  
Water Crossing Notes
Water Crossing Notes: The two crossings on Lincoln Brook Trail were rock hopable though not obviously so in my opinion. Took a little looking to find a good route. Also, I had to step on one submerged rock to waterproof boots were definitely helpful.  
Trail Maintenance Notes
Trail Maintenance Notes: Usual old stepover blowdowns on Owls Head Path above where Brutus comes in. No other blowdowns I recall. None of these trails are blazed other than Black Pond Trail which has some yellow blaze. All trails are easily followable though. The bushwhacks are now herd paths that are easy to follow if you know what you’re doing too. That said, with leaves on the ground, trails and herd paths can become more difficult to follow. In particular, Black Pond Bushwhack is in the hard woods so the leaves obscure the footbed some. Still pretty followable though. Water is having trouble draining in places due to all the leaves but that’s to be expected for this time of year.  
Dog-Related Notes
Dog-Related Notes: A few seen. Most hiking dogs could probably do this hike.  
Bugs: None 
Lost and Found
Lost and Found: None 
Comments: My 20th 4000 footer this month out of 24 needed for my October grid. Cold start in the mid 30s. Finished in the low 50s. Beautiful and sunny day but also very windy.

Quick walk in Lincoln Woods and to Black Pond before I caught up to a couple about to start the Black Pond Whack. Since they passed me while stopped earlier and had trail running vests on I stayed behind them, mindlessly following them but soon realized they missed a right hand turn and were about to truly be bushwhacking. They continued straight up a little hill. I almost turned right and corrected myself but then was concerned about whether or not these people knew what they were doing and would soon be lost. I followed a little longer before speaking up. It was their first time on Owls Head for their 48 and figured they’d truly Bushwhack... I didn’t see them with their phones out for a GPS, a compass, or anything so I really hope they had some sort of plan. Anyway, I asked them if they knew they were off the path to which they replied yes, and I said that I was going to head in the correct direction. Luckily they followed me the rest of the way and I soon came across the herd path.

At first I thought they got off trail because it was truly hard to follow with all of the leaves down but once we were on it I had no trouble following it. Just a bit more obscure than usual. We parted ways at where the whack comes out onto Lincoln Brook Trail. Took me just under 45min to make it from there to the start of Brutus. Lots of mud, leaves, and standing water through here as is typical, particularly for this time of year. I guess it’s been awhile since I’ve gone up Brutus without snow. As some parts I’d sort of forgotten about though quickly recognized once back on it. Steep and slow going. Easily erodes so there’s some slightly tricky footing. Since this herd path is at a higher elevation than Black Pond, there were less leaves obscuring it, however I find Brutus a bit harder to follow than the Black Pond whack in general. The first place is where it turns left up a drainage. In winter, the whack is normally broke out such that it takes a left sooner I believe. There was a piece of pink flagging here until this April I think. The left hand turn up the drainage and around the area can be obscure. Continue up steeply for a ways, then as the path begins to level out, cut right, and almost contour some, there’s a spot, where, *going down this path* if is easy to get pulled down to the right, and dead end. If this happens to you, you’ve got to retrace your steps a bit and stick a little further left/higher.

As I came out onto the Owls Head at the end of Brutus, I ran into a hiking friend and her buddy. Great to stop and chat :) Continued from there steeply up to the old summit (always longer than I think) and then to the true summit along the ridge (also always longer than I think). At least one person, who had been there before, continued beyond the summit not realizing that they’d reached the true summit. The herd path at the end of the northwest ridge bushwhack makes that pretty easy to do. On that note, someone I met up there said that the northwest ridge route had recently been flagged. I’d seen soem surveyors tape while coming up there before but it seemed perpindicuaornto the old logging roads there and I never saw it consistently. Besides, someone could very well take it down before long.

On my way back south along the ridge, I met Steve which who was an absolute delight! Always great to stop and talk to other bushwhackers who’ve got crazy ideas of off-trail routes to summits ;) Also lively to run into another gridding couple here. The rest of the trip out was uneventful though I did, near the end of the BP whack, bear left instead of right up the hill as I’d come in this way once before and I always notice this opportunity to “bear left” and not go up a hill, but I lost the path and ended up whacking back up. Oh well.

Only other thing to note is that there was a wee bit of black ice I saw and a tiny bit of frost on the trail around erodes spots up top...I think that’s called hoar frost?? Someone also said that the slide had some avoidable black ice near the top too. Just have to be on the lookout so as not to step on it and hurt yourself. I did that of course but on a root instead ;)  
Name: Liam Cooney 
Date Submitted
Date Submitted: 2021-10-25 
Link: http:// 
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