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Thread: Tunnel Brook/Benton Trail Road Access

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  1. #1
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Tunnel Brook/Benton Trail Road Access

    Want to do a loop of Tunnel Brook/Benton/Glencliff Trails on Moosilauke and was looking for updated info on the roads. I'm not on Facebook groups anymore and with the WMNF road page gone all I really came across for current info was Trails NH and it only had an older update (2017) for Long Road and Tunnel Brook Road isn't even listed in the open or closed sections. Given the damage and lack of updates I am assuming Tunnel Brook Rd off Rte 112 never reopened and access from the North would involve a full road walk.

    So, what I'm trying to figure out is if FR 19 (listed as North South Rd on CalTopo but I guess now is considered Long Road according to WMNF Guide) is open in Summer or is defunct. It shows a gate just off High St and a trail head for a Townline Trail shortly down the road so I was curious if there was an actual parking area accessible there beyond gate. Looking at the satellite there is a large enough clearing off High Street near the gate so can I just park there or is it posted? I can just park at High Street trail head for Glencliff and do the road walk but that is a small lot so I wanted to line up a "plan B" if Glencliff lot is full. And I generally prefer to road walk at the end of a hike, not the beginning. Minor issue here.

    Last question, at the North end of Tunnel Brook Trail there is an FR700A at road junction that looks like it would save some mileage and about 200' of vertical coming over to Benton Trail. Anybody ever go that route? I assume if Tunnel Brook Rd has been closed for years it is possible this road may no longer being getting use and could be grown in. The satellite image makes it look fairly obvious for about half the length but then vanishes so wasn't sure if it goes all the way to Benton Trail as indicated. It should be a short bushwhack at that point even if it doesn't but are the woods reasonable in that area, i.e. no ledges or boulders, etc. WMNF Guide mentions lots of avalanches given the steep walls of the ravines so was curious if terrain was tedious given the proximity to the "Little Tunnel" Ravine area. Anyway, just wanted to know if taking FR700A versus Tunnel Brook Rd was the better option.

    Thanks in advance for any feedback.
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    I did the Benton Trail last summer. The former Tunnel Brook Road is now a large washed out flood channel of impressive proportions from the Benton Trail north. It is gated with an obvious trailhead parking lot not far south from the junction with Noxon road. (FR 62) There is a much newer logging road which I believe is FR 170 that was gated off the road normally used to access the trailhead from RT 112. I cant remember the road name but its FR 162. The Benton trail crosses what I believe is an extension of FR 170 possibly FR 700A that parallels the former Tunnel Brook Road well upslope of the brook which was very well built. Pure speculation on my part is at some point this road could be opened for hiker access to the Benton trail given its high quality construction but there was no obvious trailhead parking so it may be wishful thinking. The new Tunnel Brook trail bypass around the washed out road parallels the washed out road in the woods. As I did not hike the section of Tunnel Brook road between the Benton and the south end I cant comment on its condition.

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    The Benton trail crosses what I believe is an extension of FR 170 possibly FR 700A that parallels the former Tunnel Brook Road well upslope of the brook which was very well built.
    There is about a mile gap between South end of FR 170 and North end of FR 700A but they look to orient and follow same contour nicely so that may well be connected. FR 700A definitely parallels Tunnel Brook Rd upslope to East so if that section is in good shape then no doubt I'll go that route. It looks to skip a potentially tricky river crossing which could be another benefit. Thanks.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 48/48; ME 4k: 2/14; VT 4k: 1/5; ADK 46: 6/46; Cat 3.5k 10/35

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    Senior Member alexmtn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    There is about a mile gap between South end of FR 170 and North end of FR 700A but they look to orient and follow same contour nicely so that may well be connected. FR 700A definitely parallels Tunnel Brook Rd upslope to East so if that section is in good shape then no doubt I'll go that route. It looks to skip a potentially tricky river crossing which could be another benefit. Thanks.
    I agree, great info. However just so we're clear, the 'vanilla' approach works fine. Just park at the designated lot at the current southern terminus of TBR from 112 and follow the blazed mile-plus of trail to the original trailhead. No crossing issues unless really high water.

    Alex

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    I just did an overnight in Tunnel Brook about a month ago. FR19 was gated at the bridge about 100 yards in with parking for cars along the road before the gate. You can also park at the High St intersection with no issue. We didn't venture past the ponds so can't speak to the forest road at the north end but Tunnel Brk Rd never reopened so it's a walk from the hairpin on that end. Phil Werner just did a write up on this same route today on Section Hiker that may address the road situation between Benton and Tunnel Brook. Also, if you've got time there is a faint herd path from the northern most dam on the first beaver pond past Mud Pond through some slide debris that gets you to a ledge on Clough pretty quickly with awesome views up and down the notch.

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshandBaron View Post
    Phil Werner just did a write up on this same route today on Section Hiker that may address the road situation between Benton and Tunnel Brook.
    Thanks. I actually saw that this morning which reminded me I've been meaning to do that for awhile. He actually starts his loop from Ravine Lodge and doesn't speak much of the roads/parking situation other than the closures but I did miss the pictures and narrative at end past the map and bulleted lists, which did have some useful info.
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    Senior Member Barkingcat's Avatar
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    You may also be interested in some very recent information on the current condition of Tunnel Brook Road, courtesy of John Compton.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barkingcat View Post
    You may also be interested in some very recent information on the current condition of Tunnel Brook Road, courtesy of John Compton.
    The cliffs 2 ponds to the south of where John went are much more stable. Much more open ledge.

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barkingcat View Post
    You may also be interested in some very recent information on the current condition of Tunnel Brook Road, courtesy of John Compton.
    Very timely. Thanks. Looks like peakbagger's recollection of that road was spot on.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 48/48; ME 4k: 2/14; VT 4k: 1/5; ADK 46: 6/46; Cat 3.5k 10/35

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    Senior Member Jazzbo's Avatar
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    The road is very well engineered for long term usage. See this bridge crossing at Little Tunnel Brook. Note the attention paid to drainage etc



    Best part about returning via this road is the nice swim hole in Tunnel Brook where one can cool off after after a long day on the Moose. I like the Benton Trail because it avoids the crowds. Even on Labor Day Weekend 2018 when I did this hike Benton Trail was relatively quiet.

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    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzbo View Post
    The road is very well engineered for long term usage. See this bridge crossing at Little Tunnel Brook. Note the attention paid to drainage etc



    Best part about returning via this road is the nice swim hole in Tunnel Brook where one can cool off after after a long day on the Moose. I like the Benton Trail because it avoids the crowds. Even on Labor Day Weekend 2018 when I did this hike Benton Trail was relatively quiet.

    That pool looks awesome. So is this bridge on the old road, or is this the new logging road mentioned above?

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    That does look like a nice little plunge pool....
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    Not sure on location but be aware There was a similar project down off of RT 16 starting at a picnic area a few years back with a temporary bridge that looked like the first picture and it was removed the next spring. Good Management Practice calls for a temporary bridge to be close to as well built as a permanent one as one siltation event on a temporary road and bridge can wipe out a brook for decades.

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    Senior Member Jazzbo's Avatar
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    Bridge and pool is on FR 170. I hiked in on Tunnel Brook Trail, but opted to hike out on the road just to see where it went. The road makes long overshoot past trail head so I opted to bushwhack 200' drop to the road down below to save 3/4 mile extra walking. If FS was to make this a trail option they should probably cut side hill trail up this slope to connect with FR 170. The forest on this slope has large diameter hardwoods which they will be harvesting for a long time could be one reason they built the road so well. I observed some impressive size hard woods on the trail one of things make Benton Trail so interesting.

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    Senior Member Jazzbo's Avatar
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    This so embarrassing. I have to confess I goofed!!!!!!!!!! The photo of the pool is not on FR 170. It is the pool just above bridge at present trail head. Further review of my photo set revealed the bridge railing didn't match the railing of bridge in photo of the FR 170 bridge, but it does match photo I took of the bridge over Tunnel Brook at trail head. That actually makes better place to take a dip at end of long day since your vehicle with change of clothes is right there.
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