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Thread: Twin Brook Trail -Quite a Surprise

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    Twin Brook Trail -Quite a Surprise

    I joined my redlining friends and a lover of everything Pemi (and also the Franconia Brook Trail adopter) yesterday for a hike into the Pemi from the north.The necessary trail segments were the Garfield Campsite spur, the Upper Franconia Brook trail, the Twin Brook trail and the Gale River trail with some short stretches on the AT. We ended up spotting cars and then headed up Garfield. Views were real hazy so we skipped the Garfield summit and headed down Garfield to the spur to the campsite.We took a break and talked with the caretaker who reported a full house the last few days, I asked about any bears of late and he had not seen them but he did mention that several caretakers mentioned they had resident pine martens including at 13 falls. He said the martin really helped with keeping the shelter mice population under control.We then headed down past the water soruce which was running well and onto the steep drop down Garfield on the AT. We encountered a NoBo thruhiker and couple of one day pemi loop folks along with a youth group. We then got to the Franconia Brook Trail junction and headed down to 13 Falls. The upper Franconia Brook trail is a drainage, luckily the melt is over but probably a bit wet footing in heavy rain, it eventually transitions to a dugway left over from the logging era. No real need to blaze it, the trail is obvious. I was surprised at the usage, given its location on the ridgeline its not the logical way down to 13 falls or the Owl from Galehead hut. At one point there were rock waterbars and steps built in the lower sections. I had my saw and we did cut one older blowdown across the trail. In general it reminds me of many of the wilderness area trails that were well used and built in the past but suffering from lack of recent major upgrade. It was brushed better than most wilderness trails and I expect it gets attention from the Garfield and 13 falls caretaker.

    We ended up at 13 falls around noon and it was remarkably quiet. We took a long break and headed up Twin Brook. I was expecting a fairly steep fall line route up to the hut with water running down the trail in spots and bony footing. Turned out this is incredibly well graded trail that takes advantage of J.E. Henry's dugways from the 1930's almost all the way to the ridgeline. Generally soft footing at a good grade to make good time and given our initial up and down over the ridgeline a nice way to head back up to the ridge. Eventually the fun had to end and once we ended the dugways it was bony footing until we came out on the Frost Trail and soon at Galehead hut. It was around 3 PM and there was the usual traffic through the site which included 3 thruhikers who surprisingly were planning to stay at the hut despite the early hour. Usually thruhikers hike until much later and they could easily be at Guyot and possibly Zealand but I expect a hot meal and work for stay is a temptation. I bought one of the hut snacks that seem to be getting smaller and more expensive over the years. After a 20 minute break it was back on the AT and then down Gale River trail. I always seem to go down this trail at the end of a long hike and it always feels longer than it is. I never minded the multiple river crossings as it meant smoother walking on the old road versus the newer AMC relo. The relo cuts out the river crossings but the trade off is it not hardened. It may have been nice when it first opened with soft forest duff under foot but its now a series of mudpits with bare roots for a stretch down on the lower end before it rejoins the old route. There is no bridging or step stones and the trail is being widened out due to folks avoiding the mud. It was dry enough that I just trudged through.

    Overall a nice way to spend a hike mostly under a canopy away from the crowds. Except for the long car spot I could see nice backpack starting at GaleRiver road and down Twin Brook trail to 13 falls for the night an the Franconia Brook trail out.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 07-05-2019 at 06:27 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Jazzbo's Avatar
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    Redlining sure calls for some creative routes of which this is one. I seem to recall similar experience about trail from 13 Falls to Frost Trail and hut. I think the choice of route for relocation Gale River Trail was unfortunate. Hard to see in advance nice flat route in non-mineral forest duff would devolve into series of mud-pits with no way to drain water. Probably should re-locate trail closer to edge of stream terrace or even side hill in side of stream terrace to provide opportunity to build drains. Alternative might be to shovel out non-mineral muck and replace with sand and gravel mined from some convenient location such as blow downs of which there are plenty and replace muck soils with sand and gravel. Build up to slightly higher than neighboring surface. Sand and gravel would be self draining. The stream terrace basically consists of sand and gravels topped with thick organic layer of forest duff. One can observe how terrace is mainly gravel when trail side hills down to crossing of brook from Hawthorne Falls making for nice sustainable side hill trail construction.
    Last edited by Jazzbo; 07-05-2019 at 10:58 AM.
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    Senior Member blacknblue's Avatar
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    I haven't done Twin Brook Trail in twenty years, but I remember it being a very pleasant hike up to Galehead from 13 Falls. The upper FBT from Garfield was a mess when I did it, though it was very shortly after the spring melt.
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    Senior Member Salty's Avatar
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    I haven't done Twin Brook Trail in thirty-five years, but I remember.... well, nothing.

    From the (ahem) Wilderness Trail parking lot, I did a loop up Franconia Brook to Guyot shelter, then back down through the Bonds (the second time I neglected to hit up West Bond due to being beat up, doh!). Peakbagger's TR makes me want to do a repeat of that except stay at 13 Falls (have some further exploration to do around there), though it makes for a typical Bonds traverse type of day 2.

    Thanks for sharing.

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    While you are at 13 falls, its just a short way down the trail to the Red Rock brook rail spur. I rarely find the entrance to it from the way in but its pretty easy to spot on the way out. I hope to make a visit to the ravine south of the one that has Red Rock Pond one of these days. It basically a road with soft footing and few railroad artifacts very soon after it splits off of Franconia Brook Trail.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    While you are at 13 falls, its just a short way down the trail to the Red Rock brook rail spur. I rarely find the entrance to it from the way in but its pretty easy to spot on the way out. I hope to make a visit to the ravine south of the one that has Red Rock Pond one of these days. It basically a road with soft footing and few railroad artifacts very soon after it splits off of Franconia Brook Trail.
    I just spent 3 days in there. The new LiDAR imagery has made that area even more fun. So many routes to explore. There is a road that leaves FBT about 100 yards south of the Red Rock Brook crossing that you can follow to around the point the rail grade coming from FBT stops and you normally head upslope to grab the road that turns into the Bear Pond herd path. Cuts a pretty good portion off the route normally taken in via the grade from the south.

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    I had my eye on that exact option, thanks.

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