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Monthly Archives: July 2009

But what folly to attempt to draw in words the curves and colors, the coyness…,

the flashes and the  moodiness, the laughter and the plaints of these daughters of the clouds !

Thomas Starr King, 1868

Easy, dude.


On the northern slopes of Mt. Adams and Mt. Madison in New Hampshires Presidential Range lies some of the most rugged and wild feeling country in the Northeast. This interesting area of native forests, rock slides, ravines and mountain streams contains more waterfalls and cascades in one place than I’ve ever encountered.

From below, the area is best accessed from the maze of trails originating at the Appalachia parking lot on Rte. 2 in Randolph, NH. As this is the starting point for several trails (Airline,Valley Way,Short Line) that provide straight shots to the Northern Presidentials it’s very popular. But, the trails in the unofficial “Grand Loop” for waterfall viewing are lightly used and relatively deserted, in fact I saw no one the first day and only a handful the second.

I started out on the Link/Amphibrach Trails, where I met, crossed, and headed up Cold Brook.

Cold Brook Bridge

Cold Brook Bridge

 The first falls were Cold Brook Falls, sort of classic with a cave in the ledges on the left side.

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Taking a right side loop (and missing the Cold Spur Ledge Falls as a consequence !) on the Monaway and Cliffside Trails I came to Spur Brook Falls before rejoining the Amphibrach Trail.

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I continued on the Amphibrach until its junction with the King Ravine Trail, one of the oldest trails in the White Mountains having been laid out by mountaineer Charles E. Lowe and named after White Mountains rusticater, chronicler, and Lowe client, Thomas Starr King in 1876. As a side trip I headed down this trail to where Cold Brook crossed it. Here I found what is called Canyon Falls.GRANDLOOP 7-24 007  

Returning to the Amphibrach Trail I climbed to the major trail junction known as the Pentadoi.  The Amphibrach had been paralleling the “Canyon” of  Cold Brook and I was thinking there might be some interesting falls there so through some controlled falls of my own, lol, I bushwhacked down into it. Here is what I found.

Cold Brook Canyon

Cold Brook Canyon
























Cold Brook Canyon

Cold Brook Canyon

Cold Brook Canyon

Cold Brook Canyon

Cold Brook Canyon

Cold Brook Canyon









After clawing  my way up and out of the canyon I took a side trip on the Spur Trail to elegant Chandler Falls.

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Back to the Pentadoi and now onward on the King Ravine Trail as it headed up the ravine. After a bit I came to the gentle Mossy Falls, above which Cold Brook would soon disappear into the boulder field at the base of the King Ravine headwalls.

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Just above Mossy Falls I came to these signs.GRANDLOOP 7-24 022GRANDLOOP 7-24 023
 As it was getting late, the trail rougher, and the trees smaller, I headed back down the Ravine Trail to where the forest might support my hammock and camp. After a search I found a site, one that had been used before. A cup of miso soup and dinner of quality bean noodle ramen followed camp setup. Switching out my wet outer clothes and socks for dry ones I entered the Hennessy Hammock and adjusted the down underquilt. With my sleeping bag used like a quilt over me  and lulled by the white noise of Cold Brook as it tumbled nearby I soon fell asleep and spent a restful night in my cocoon.
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The next morning, exploring the immediate area around camp I found, as I expected, several other old campsites which trail keepers had disguised with brush to discourage permanent use, and one unofficial permanent site with a fire ring  (boo !) and recent bough bed. In the spirit of leave no trace I also covered my site with brush after I’d packed my camp away. Someone woodswise would have no trouble identifying a campsite even with the brush on it and would hopefully return it to that state when they were done with it.
Under a lowry sky, with the ridgelines enveloped in mist, I headed up the King Ravine Trail again. Although the Grand Loop as conceived allows you to follow the KRT to the ridgeline by the AMC’s Madison Hut, summit Mts. Adam & Madison if you wish, then return to Appalachia down the Snyder Brook drainage, I decided because of the summits being socked in to short circuit the upper part of the loop. Taking the Chemin des Dames Trail up the left side of the King Ravine headwall  I reached the Airline Trail.  If this steep, slippery, groin puller was the “Path of the Ladies” I can’t wait to see what the two alternatives, the final lurch of the King Ravine and Great Gully Trails are like ! All three are “not recommended” for descents.
Chemin des Dames Trail

Chemin des Dames Trail

Airline Trail

Airline Trail

 Heading down the Mt. Madison buttress ridge the Airline Trail follows I soon turned off  onto the Upper Bruin Trail, descending into the Snyder Brook drainage, connected with the Valley Way Trail, and followed that, passing a platform tenting area, to the Lower Bruin Trail.

Along the Lower Bruin Trail I bushwhacked down into a ravine where I found this pretty little stepped cascade.


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Further below in the ravine were upper, middle, and lower Duck Falls.


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Below the Duck Falls I got off the Lower Bruin Trail and onto the Brookside Trail. From far above the Duck Falls Snyder Brook is virtually one long cascade, and this continues with the ravine  rough going and often obstructed with fallen timber.
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A pretty spray

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Salmacia Falls


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Below Salmacia the gradient begins to mellow.

The wonderfully serene Upper & Lower Tama Falls.

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 Upper & Lower Salroc Falls


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Further along


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The final cascade on the loop – Gordon Falls


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All in all  a very satisfying two days spent in an area well worth exploring more.

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While hiking the other day I came across the first ripe low bush blueberries of the season growing on the ledges of a not to be disclosed mountain. I took the time to pick enough (a quart/liter) for a pie.

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Arethusa Falls-Crawford Notch

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Peabody Brook-Mahoosuc Range

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Dryad Falls-Mahoosuc Range


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Memento Mori-Dream Lake, Mahoosuc Range

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