Hiking Trail Conditions Report
Peaks Spruce Hill, West Moat Mountain, NH
Trails: Boulder Loop Trail, bushwhack, view spur
Date of Hike
Date of Hike: Monday, November 29, 2021
Parking/Access Road Notes
Parking/Access Road Notes: Passaconaway Rd was open at least to the trailhead. A tiny spot of ice on the covered bridge I noticed on my way out but not at all concerning. Room for a couple dozen cars at least at the trailhead but I was the only one there at 9:45am and only one other car around 3:45pm when I returned.  
Surface Conditions
Surface Conditions: Dry Trail, Ice - Black, Snow - Trace/Minimal Depth, Ice - Blue, Ice - Breakable Crust, Leaves - Significant/Slippery, Snow/Ice - Small Patches 
Recommended Equipment
Recommended Equipment: Light Traction 
Water Crossing Notes
Water Crossing Notes: None 
Trail Maintenance Notes
Trail Maintenance Notes: Some of the blazing is very old/faded. No blowdowns that I recall. 
Dog-Related Notes
Dog-Related Notes: Boulder Loop Trail is a good trail for dogs. May need to be careful with them near the cliffs both on trail and on the bushwhack if you go to the cliffs I went to described below.  
Bugs: None 
Lost and Found
Lost and Found: None 
Comments: Day 29, Peaks 28&29. Sunny and in the high 20s when I started. Low 30s and cloudier when I finished with the wind increasing in the afternoon. Nice to revisit this trail as it's been 4+ years since I redlined it!

Boulder Loop Trail is blazed in yellow. Some of the blazing is very old/faded. I don't recall how frequent it is. A couple turns on the trail that could be a bit obscure particularly with all the leaves on the ground. One spot, not far in, on the southern half of the loop, where it appears a very short section of the trail was rerouted and stays high now rather than dip low. No blowdowns that I recall.

I hiked up the southern half of the Boulder Loop Trail in the morning. Pretty easy ascent to the view spur with flat/easy grades to start, then moderate grades as it climbs to the HOL on trail. The trail was mostly dry and had no snow at first. Some trace amounts began to appear as I climbed to the HOL.

From the HOL/jct with the view spur, I took a bearing and headed right into the woods following a southern ridge toward Spruce Hill. This ridge leads you to a southwestern knob of the peak. Just before I was within the highest contour of this knob, I turned left to head to Spruce Hill...except I came underneath a cool little rock formation, got distracted, and decided to climb to the top of it to check it out and see if there was a view. Nice woods here and I was a little entranced so I walked around a wee bit. I soon checked Gaia, ready to turn around and head to Spruce Hill, when Gaia showed an open area (shown on my iPhone's version of Gaia as white/tan instead of green) around some very close contour lines a short distance E/SE of me. Thinking there'd be a view, I headed that way to check it out. I got pulled south instead and found a little ledge but the view was mostly obscured by trees. Interestingly enough, there were a handful of cairns here though. I looked over this little ledge to see if the cairns led into the woods since there wasn't much of a view here but they did not. This spot, is just under/south of the western edge of the highest contour of this southwestern knob of Spruce Hill. I then contoured over east to the open area. I scrambled up a dry but very steep ledge and soon came to the edge of the ledges. I walked along the uppermost ledges for probably close to a mile. Some real nice views to Chocorua, White Ledge, some other peaks along the Kanc and Sandwich Range Wilderness (part of Paugus, Passaconaway, Hedgehog, Potash, etc.) and, to your left, to the Moats. Very cool. I think there may have been a cairn or two over here as well. Would be a great spot for open ledge camping. Nice to just go and explore :) This added perhaps an hour to my hike though :/

I eventually headed back up to the top of this southwestern knob and made my way northwest to the summit of Spruce Hill. Some softwoods around here but mostly good woods. Found my way up to the summit of Spruce Hill on a ledge with some views (toward Bear Mtn for example) where the true high point is. The jar is on a tree just below it. I signed in, took a NW bearing to the col, aiming for the for the western corner of the clear cut shown on Gaia in white. I didn't hit wide open woods like some, but they weren't bad either. Quick trip down to the clearcut (0.25mi) which is just above the col on the south side/Spruce Hill side. I figured that since it was open, it would make more sense to walk through then the woods, but the woods were open at thus point and the clearcut had prickers in it so that was a dumb idea. On the far side of the clearcut, I dipped down a tiny bit further into the col, and then began the very steep ascent NE ascent up the summit of West Moat in wide open hardwoods. A couple hundred feet up, you'll start to run into little cliff bands/boulders, but they are easy to go around and weave through. No real scrambling needed. The forest begins to transition shortly before things start to level out. Then, it's about a 0.2mi walk over the southern knob and to the true summit through more softwoods but not thick. There

I returned the same way down but managed to go down less steeply. Perhaps because I was going downhill more quickly and could twist and turn and find the nicest grades more easily. I stayed just to the west side of the clearcut this time and kept to the good woods. I took a bearing to the Boulder Loop Trail and headed back up the eastern side of Spruce Hill. I crossed it just outside of the highest contour. Here, I noticed a very clear herd path. To my left, it seemed to head east, perhaps to the clearcuts near the col or toward the ledges I was at earlier in the day. On my right, it seemed to head toward Spruce Hill, the direction I came up but it soon faded. I also noticed cut trees around here...I was intrigued by this herd path and the cut trees but I didn't feel like exploring the herd path leading east perpindicular to the way I wanted to go. If anyone knows, I'd be very curious. From here, I made my way back to the cool little rock formation where I began my whack to the cliffs earlier, noticed more cut trees, and made my way back to Boulder Loop Trail.

I took the view spur to the ledges and enjoyed the views. Interesting to compare them to the views on the ledges SW of Spruce Hill that I was at earlier. Took the northern half of the loop down, visiting all the little view spurs along the way. Didn't see a soul all day although there was one other car in the lot when I returned. While I didn't use microspikes, it would be prudent at this point to at least have them with you. I did slip a few times and this is a ledgy area so there was definitely some ice on rock that I avoided (or that could be hidden under a thin layer of snow).

336 more days and peaks to go..  
Name: Liam Cooney 
Date Submitted
Date Submitted: 2021-11-30 
Link: http:// 
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