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Thread: Black Pond

  1. #1
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    Black Pond

    How is the herd path in the summer time from Black Pond over to the trail that leads you to Owls Head in the White Mountains?

    I keep hearing different reports and also the state is giving people citations for using it?
    is it in good condition and easily discernible? any tips on its use.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    It's this obvious, with clipped saplings, from end to end.

    I keep hearing different reports and also the state is giving people citations for using it?
    Really? From where and against what RSA? It's not state property. Could it be the WMNF issuing tickets for licensed guides using it? I've heard that might be a thing before. Or exceeding the wilderness maximum group size?

    Tim
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    Last edited by bikehikeskifish; 07-29-2022 at 08:13 PM.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member richard's Avatar
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    How’s Gryffin doing? How old now?

  4. #4
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by richard View Post
    How’s Gryffin doing? How old now?
    He's great, thanks. He turned 9 in February. Not as spry as 4 or 5 years ago but still getting around just fine.

    Tim
    Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep. Eat, Fish, Repeat.

  5. #5
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    I was there yesterday. As long as a hiker takes the turn to the right just as the route heads up hill. past the pond and muddy areas, its better than many official non railbed trails in wilderrness. There is an obvious path straight up the hill while the correct right turn is obscured a bit by a tree. The path up the hill does have some branches across it but visually it is easy to take the wrong path. Once on the correct route it would be very difficult to lose it as the trail bed is quite obvious worn in and is bare dirt. No need for blazes or GPS. There are many "step over" dead trees. along the way and some evidence of cutting small trees to improve the route.

    While I am at it, the Brutus bushwhack to avoid the slide on the Owl is also getting far more use and is far more obvious than just a few years ago. Many hikers including myself are using it on the way down from the Owl. I met a couple going up. Unlike the BP route, this bushwhack has several steep sections that are showing wear that could lead to problems. The route to the currently "new" summit from the older summit has been improved, its used to be a branching route to avoid numerous blowdowns. Many have been cut to keep the route open.

    IMHO, unless the forest service supervisor declares the entire area a Restricted Use Area, I do not see how they could cite anyone for using the current path. That would be a precedent as far as I know. During the "battle for the Owl" summer the FS spent a lot of time trying to obscure the Owls head path start and remove summit signs but did not cite anyone who was hiking it. Reportedly AMC had conditions attached to their outfitter guide permit a few years ago that prevents them from using these paths in organized group hikes, in theory preventing a group hike to the Owl by AMC.

    Compared to my last visit to the Owl, its obvious that someone has hauled a lot of blowdowns to the junction area with the Owl "path". about 4 years ago that area was quite beaten down from people camping. It also was posted quite prominently with signs not to leave unattended packs as bears would steal them, no trace of signs this time. Note being caught with tools or in the act of maintaining an unofficial trail in the WMNF is a citable act. It is used as a threat, like many USFS potential violations, but has been used once and publicized on a local that was maintaining unofficial trails in the Nancy Ponds area. No doubt mountain bikers who have been building fairly extensive trail networks in the WMNF could be busted but the most recent interview I heard on NHPR was that the WMNF has decided to try to focus the illegal activities towards making formal approved trail networks. Strava tracks has made their job easy to observe networks being built.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 08-01-2022 at 12:36 PM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Rob S's Avatar
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    The Black Pond herd path was very easy to follow in June. It was our first time there, so we weren't sure how it would be. It's better than some marked trails! And I agree about the Brutus bushwhack getting a lot of use. Some of the steep sections are becoming very eroded.

  7. #7
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    How long is the hike for the entire trip to owl's head using the Black Pond herd path both ways/

  8. #8
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    Via Black Pond, up the slide, down the skidder at 16.8 miles.
    Via Franconia Brook Trail and the slide both ways at 18.8 miles.

    The documented Black Pond route says that it saves about a mile each way, which is what the above shows.

    Tim
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  9. #9
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    Unless someone is into logging railroad history, the BPB is the way to go, as it skips the two water major water crossings that can be of concern in the spring or during high water. Of course, with the Lincoln Woods trail slated to be closed for some duration of next summer, the route to the Owl will now be the East Side trail to the tentsite, then ford the East branch of the Pemi above where Franconia Brook joins the East Branch and then take the traditional route via Franconia Brook trail to Lincoln Brook trail. That will be a longer route and hope there is not a high water event as fording the East Branch is definitely very flow dependent. Or just take the traditional Owls head route from the Franconia Ridge Trail down Lincoln Slide and then back up it.

  10. #10
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    Unless someone is into logging railroad history, the BPB is the way to go, as it skips the two water major water crossings that can be of concern in the spring or during high water. Of course, with the Lincoln Woods trail slated to be closed for some duration of next summer, the route to the Owl will now be the East Side trail to the tentsite, then ford the East branch of the Pemi above where Franconia Brook joins the East Branch and then take the traditional route via Franconia Brook trail to Lincoln Brook trail. That will be a longer route and hope there is not a high water event as fording the East Branch is definitely very flow dependent. Or just take the traditional Owls head route from the Franconia Ridge Trail down Lincoln Slide and then back up it.
    Or go into 13 falls from The North. Also folks hike it from Galehead.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  11. #11
    Senior Member dug's Avatar
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    I found the BPB to be a nightmare on skis when were last on it, quite a while ago. Maybe it's straightened out a bit, but it there were few straight lines as it weaved in and out of the trees. We ended up returning via the trailed-route and it was much easier. That would be the only other reason I can think of to utilize the trailed route.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    If it's hot like this, why skip a brook crossing....
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

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