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Waumbek
12-14-2005, 08:07 PM
The trail to the other NH Owl's Head, the one with a view, is largely on land about to be added to the WMNF. It has a long and rich history associated with the Cherry Mountain slide of 1885. That slide never resonated with the tragically ironic overtones of the earlier Willey House slide in Crawford Notch: the Willey family fled the house for safety only to put themselves in the slide's path. But slides still fascinated the public and made headline news in late 19th c. NH.

Here's the article from today's Coos County Democrat:

[start quote] TPL buys Owl's Head tract; 450 acres to be added to WMNF
by Edith Tucker
12/14/2005 - JEFFERSON — The nonprofit Trust for Public Land (TPL) has purchased 450 acres from Bayroot LLC, a private forest investment firm, on which most of the Randolph Mountain Club's Owl's Head Trail runs from the state's Cherry Mountain Slide historic marker on Route 115 in Jefferson through a northern hardwood forest to the summit of Owl's Head, a northeastern summit of Cherry Mountain. Because of its panoramic views, this peak is a popular hiking destination in the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF).

Until the Dec. 6 closing, about 90 percent of the trail was located on private land. With TPL's purchase, the 1.9-mile trail will cross private land for only a quarter-mile before reaching the 450-acre property, which is slated to be added to the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) in the spring of 2006.

Thanks to a separate road easement from the highway to the trail, which was conveyed to TPL along with the property, the public will now be assured permanent access to the bulk of the historic trail, even if the quarter-mile stretch that crosses private land were ever to be closed.

"We're very pleased that we've been able to help protect another popular trail in the White Mountains," said TPL's project manager Rodger Krussman of its Montpelier, Vt., office. "Private landowners are often generous in allowing public access, but the public can lose these privileges at any time. Access to the Owl's Head Trail is now something we will never again have to worry about."

"RMC has spent nearly 10 weeks in recent years working to upgrade the condition of the trail through trail work and relocations," said RMC trails chairman Doug Mayer of Randolph. "With the trail in private hands, the threat of development and loss of public access to this gem was always looming. Knowing that so much of the trail is now protected from development is a huge relief. Owl's Head is a local favorite, and the view from the top is one of finest in the region, with the Presidential Range from Randolph to Crawford Notch spread out right in front of you. It's amazing — and it's very satisfying — to know it will be enjoyed for generations. RMC thanks TPL and everyone else involved in the effort."

"The earliest mention I have of the RMC's involvement with the trail is in the 1929 List of RMC trails, and the Club has not only maintained but also improved and relocated it over the last few years," said RMC's historian Judy Hudson, who was Club president some years ago.

"This land is very important in the history of the town of Jefferson," said Jefferson Conservation Commission head Dave Govatski. "The land that was purchased — formerly owned by MeadWestvaco — includes the area affected by the famous Cherry Mountain Slide of July 10, 1885, making it have tremendous significance to local residents. The purchase also knits together some of the first lands included in the WMNF in the first round of land acquisitions back in 1914-1915," said the retired U.S. Forest Service forester.

When it sells the 450-acre tract to the WMNF in the spring, TPL will be reimbursed from a 2002 appropriation from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), this because of efforts that were led by U.S. Senator Judd Gregg along with the support of the state's entire New Hampshire congressional delegation. Senator Gregg is a member of the Interior Appropriations subcommittee, which oversees LWCF funding.

"The White Mountains represent the beauty that is New Hampshire's natural environment," Sen. Gregg said in a press release. His family once owned the Waumbek Hotel and sold acreage north of Route 2 to the U.S. Forest Service. "Today's announcement is another step toward ensuring the public will always be able to enjoy this unique natural resource, and I commend TPL for their commitment to this effort."

"Public access to trails and recreation in the White Mountains is critical to the quality of life for all Granite Staters," said Congressman Charlie Bass, who also praised local selectmen for their far-sighted interest in doing right by their towns.

The New Hampshire office of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) made a grant from its Kit Ober Memorial Fund towards covering the cost of the protection effort. The late Ms. Ober loved the WMNF.

The Owl's Head project is part of a trail protection initiative among TPL, the WMNF, and the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) that joined forces in 1998 to update a study of trails and trailheads in the White Mountains. The trio found that nearly one-quarter of the WMNF's trails originated on or crossed private land. The study also identified 55 privately owned properties within the boundary of the National Forest that contain portions of public hiking trails, including the Appalachian Trail. Thanks to assistance from New Hampshire's Congressional delegation, the National Forest Foundation, the Martin Foundation, and other supporters, TPL and its partners have already made significant progress in protecting over 20 miles of key trails. TPL facilitated the protection of over 13,000 acres near Pond of Safety in Randolph and Jefferson, in partnership with the Randolph Foundation, the town of Randolph, the WMNF and the cooperation of selectmen in both towns. The resulting 10,000-acre Randolph Community Forest is the largest in New England, and protects several miles of trails, some of which have been in use for over 100 years. Two new trails — the Four Soldiers Trail and the Underhill Trail — have also been created.

"I'd say that nearly 30 miles of trail out of 110 maintained by RMC have been protected by TPL and its cooperators," Mr. Mayer said. "An impressive accomplishment — and probably not a moment too soon as development pressures only increase."

TPL also conserved the initial section of the Castle Trail, which leads to the summit of Mt. Jefferson, the third-highest peak in New England. The Castle Trail is maintained by the AMC and protects access to two RMC trails — the Israel Ridge and Castle Ravine Trails.

TPL also permanently conserved 60 acres in Albany surrounding the trailhead for the popular Piper Trail, which leads to the summit of Mt. Chocorua; added 325 acres in Bartlett to the WMNF, including portions of the Moat Mountain and Red Ridge Trails; protected 10 acres in Hart's Location, including the trailhead of the Davis Path, which is not only one of the oldest hiking trails in the country, but also serves as access to Mt. Crawford, Stairs Mountain, Mt. Isolation, and the Presidential Range-Dry River Wilderness Area. [end quote]

Raymond
12-15-2005, 02:29 AM
Glad to see the 85 bucks I just sent them went to a good cause.

Huzzah!

spider solo
12-15-2005, 03:28 AM
Good News. Glad they were able to do it. I've been wanting to go there for quite some time. I used to be confused with the two (or three) Owls Head.
Any idea if it does indeed look like an Owls head from a paricular view point?

forestgnome
12-15-2005, 06:22 AM
Thanks for linking the article. Great news to start my day!

Is the trail now open?

frytz
12-15-2005, 03:23 PM
Thanks for linking the article. Great news to start my day!

Is the trail now open?


The trail has always been open, it is now protected! I hiked the loop last summer for the first time, and it is not an easy hike, but the views are rewarding!

Fred

forestgnome
12-15-2005, 07:08 PM
The trail has always been open, it is now protected! I hiked the loop last summer for the first time, and it is not an easy hike, but the views are rewarding!

Fred
OK, I get it... The "Dec. 6th closing" refers to the closing of the real estate deal. :o

It is a beautiful trail; haven't hiked there in years, maybe soon...

RoySwkr
12-20-2005, 06:15 PM
Unfortunately the trail was relocated several years ago away from its historic route up the slide at the bottom.

I used to be confused with the two (or three) Owls Head.

The one in Benton has a bootleg trail, at least until Ranger Fosdick hears of it :-)

I haven't been to this one:
http://www.topozone.com/map.asp?lat=43.73917&lon=-71.51056

Eric Savage
12-23-2005, 02:10 PM
I did a traverse of Cherry Mtn in June (how do you make a loop?) and found the bottom half mile of the Owl's Head trail (the relocated part, I presume) to be absolutely miserable. We had a lot of rain that day and this part of the trail was under several inches of water. How is it on a dry day? If there is any rain in the forecast, I would avoid this trail or bring waders...

frytz
12-23-2005, 03:45 PM
I did a traverse of Cherry Mtn in June (how do you make a loop?) and found the bottom half mile of the Owl's Head trail (the relocated part, I presume) to be absolutely miserable. We had a lot of rain that day and this part of the trail was under several inches of water. How is it on a dry day? If there is any rain in the forecast, I would avoid this trail or bring waders...


I did it in July. The loop was completed with a road walk back up to the other parking area! The bottom part that you found so wet, was fairly dry then, but it wandered around quite a bit, and was buggy and brambly! But after that exit, the road walk seemed fairly palatable!

Fred