View Full Version : Best direction to do Cabot - Horn loop?

11-30-2012, 06:16 AM
Long time listener - First time caller new to the list :). I am planning on doing a Cabot - Horn loop next week (12/7 or first good weather day). What is the best direction to do this loop, clockwise or counterclockwise? Considering , Id rather go up steep sections then down, but would like to start at least an hour before sunrise if the trail is easy enough to follow by headlamp. I understand that with the gate at the hatchery, that may be a problem but I plan to call ahead and see if it is or can be left unlocked the night before. I figure that this hike may take 10 + hours for me so If I have to wait until it opens (7? 8?), I probably wont have enough time to finish before dark, so the direction I go may depend on if I start or finish in the dark. If the gate is locked in the morning I plan on sitting there until it opens then ask that they wait for me before locking that evening. Other threads I have read indicate that they probably never locked anyone in and that it may never actually really be locked (just closed). Thanks, any input will be greatly appreciated.

11-30-2012, 07:37 AM
I did this loop going clockwise and didn't have any problems. I don't recall anything that is overly steep or difficult. Maybe coming down off Cabot towards the bulge going this direction would be a little steeper. I don't remember it being that long of a section either. This loop is a real nice walk in my opinion and a hike I am anxious to do again.

11-30-2012, 08:51 AM
If the weather is warm, Unknown pond trail can be wet in the last mile or so to the fish hatchery road. There may be an advantage in doing this early in the AM when things are frozen.

The gate is not locked, its hunting season. The only way it would be locked would be in response to an short term situation (like vandalism at the hatchery). There are houses nearby the gate that can help you out if on the rare chance it is locked.

If you havent been to the fish hatchery up through Berlin, keep in mind half the challenge is following RT 110 through town. Many first timers get lost and keep going straight on Main street. There are signs, but the turns are easy to miss as the route zig zags through a neighborhood. If you see the Berlin Ice Arena, you missed a turn The other thing to keep in mind is the fish hatchery road is long and winding and may not get the attention that mainroads do. I have found the road to be quite icy in the morning at times and many folks have problems as they are in a rush to the trailhead. I have discovered personally that even going the speed limit at times is too fast.

11-30-2012, 09:29 AM
If you go over the bridge, you missed the left to stay on 110. I did find the gate locked once, but the dogs at the nearby houses noticed my arrival, made a racket, and the hatchery guys came out and let me in. This was mid-November last year.

I think the steepest pitches are short, and rocky, and coming down from Cabot on the way to the Bulge and again before the col for the Horn. That said, we did it with Randy Pierce (he's blind) for Flags on the 48. Once you get down towards Unknown Pond, the trail is quite beautiful and pretty easy.

Welcome to VFTT!


11-30-2012, 03:21 PM
If it's icey I'd think counter clockwise would be easier. I think you'd catch more views that way too. Don't miss the True Summit: It's kind of in the woods.

11-30-2012, 07:17 PM
You're steepest descent on this loop will be coming off the very summit rock of the Horn. It's a short scramble up/down the small rocky top, maybe 6-8 feet, not particularly dangerous, but takes some care when icy. If I recall, you can kind of slide off onto another boulder...

One thought - there is a cabin near the summit of Cabot that provides nice shelter from the wind and cold and has bunks. If you go counter-clockwise, this places the cabin later in the day and further into the hike mileage if it was needed for an emergency shelter or warm up.

Enjoy, Unknown Pond is gorgeous as are the views from the Horn.

11-30-2012, 07:31 PM
One thought - there is a cabin near the summit of Cabot that provides nice shelter from the wind and cold and has bunks. .

Check to see if my horseshoe is still on the post outside. Thanks.

EDIT: ACTUALLY;) if you can bring a couple nails and a small hammer to secure it properly, I'd appreciate it. I just kind of wedged it at eye level onto a pole on the porch of the cabin.

11-30-2012, 07:57 PM
Id rather go up steep sections then down, but would like to start at least an hour before sunrise if the trail is easy enough to follow by headlamp.

Counter clockwise the stream crossings could be challenging by headlamp. No huge deal, but it's a bit weird as you need to cross a few times to get back to the same side you started on, so in the dark you might think you'd done something wrong. If you're starting in the dark I'd go clockwise. You'll probably need microspikes or something similar and cautious footing for either direction regardless.

11-30-2012, 08:08 PM
which goes to show that we all have our own opinions. Last few times we did this route it was counterclockwize..wetness and a couple of crossings out of the way on Unknown Pond which is a nice ascent. A little steep on Cabot approach for abit but nothing taxing. Horn summit the same either way as it is a side trail. Last section out on Bunnell Notch Trail a very wide old road..granted a couple of small crossings but apt to have more light at end of day. Typically when we do the loop it is this way.Also..that way you catch the cbin on the "downhill" side.

11-30-2012, 09:12 PM
Thanks for all the advice. The direction seems to be a coin flip, but it may depend on the weather and when I start. I've got a week to think about it but it doesnt sound like there is a big difference. I like the advice on making sure I know how to drive to the trailhead. I've drove aimlessley in the dark too many times searching for the TH. I have already programed key lat/lons for driving turns. I feel a little better about keeping on ther trail before sunris now because I have downloaded severals gps tracks from wikloc. Just heard about this site from an old VFTT post. No more time comsuming process of getting and punching in waypoints. Thanks again for all the advice and I'll keep checking for any other input. Chip, how about I just bring nails and look for a handy rock for a hammer, I carry too much weight as it is :)

12-01-2012, 06:24 AM
Thanks for all the advice. The direction seems to be a coin flip

It always is a matter of opinion. On every loop we discuss on this board. :)

The water crossings are an excellent point. Going CCW, one of these in particular near the end could be pretty challenging in the dark.

As for the horseshoe, the mice own it now.

12-01-2012, 02:04 PM
I'v done the loop both ways although clockwise more times. If it is unseasonably warm when you go I would suggest clockwise to fully enjoy the views from The Horn before the final descent. If it is cold or viewless then probably counter clockwise as the Cabot Cabin will give you some shelter before your final push out.

12-05-2012, 10:31 AM
Based on the current forecasts I'm going to try and do this hike tomorrow (Thursday) instead of Friday or Saturday, which look like cold rain days.
I just called the Berlin hatchery (603-449-3412) and the person I spoke with said the gate will be open or unlolocked for the rest of the winter.
I think I'm leaning toward going clockwise. One reason being that if the weather goes bad or if I get too winded I can turn back after Cabot for my NE48 and save the Bulge and the Horn until (or if) I start on the NEHH. Also it looks like an easier path before daylight, and the wettest part (if I do the loop) would be near the end of the hike.
Thanks for all the advice