Spending a couple of Days on the Cohos Trail


Help Support vftt.org:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Super Moderator
Staff member
VFTT Supporter
Sep 3, 2003
Reaction score
Gorham NH
I took advantage of the good weather and headed up to Nash Stream July 4th, for a couple of days of backpacking. We headed north from Christine Lake in Stark NH after spotting a car on RT 26 near the Balsams. Christine Lake is on a side path off the CT. It's a bit confusing initially as the CT route is behind the no trespassing sign heading over to the Summer Club, very soon after the gate there is a Cohos Trail hikers welcome sign.

SPHNF has been actively logging in the area so the first stretch is on logging roads. The intersections and turn offs are well marked but since the footbed is not developed, it does take some looking. We then crossed into Nash stream and slowly wrapped around South Percy to the col and junction with the day hike's trail heading from Nash Stream Road. We elected to head up to North Percy for a lunch spot and the weather was a bit hazy but hot and humid. We then headed down past the Percy Tentsite that appears to be one tent platform and a composting privy. There was plenty of water crossings in the woods. The CT very roughly parallels Nash stream road up the slopes of the valley through stands of varying age northern hardwoods from mature to recent cuts. Not much for views but the trailbed is better than expected. Eventually we curved downslope to cross the Trip Ponds road and then to the most scenic spot on the hike, Pond Brook Falls. The trail oddly stays away from the upper sections but eventually comes out at a couple of cascades. A place like this in the whites would loaded with campsites but Nash Stream has camping in just a few designated areas along the CT and this is not one of them. We then crossed Nash Stream Road and crossed Nash stream and turned onto a snowmachine trail which is a former gravel haul road. The trail is well graded and we made good time. Eventually we turned off onto an older haul road and came to our evenings place to stay, Old Hermits shelter. This is a very nice newer shelter with composting privy and great water source. No fires in Nash Stream Forest and the site and shelter shows very light use. A place like this would be mobbed elsewhere. We saw no one all day.

Next morning, we headed pass the side trial to Sugarloaf. It was turning into a hot and humid day so we skipped the extra 2 miles out and back. The trail crosses Nash Stream Road and goes to the east side of Nash Stream bog avoiding the shanty town of camps along the west side. By rights, in my opinion and as a contributor to the campaign to purchase these lands, they should have been long gone but the state came up with the concept of "camp culture" being a legitimate reason to betray the original intent of the purchase of Nash Stream and now allow the camps to remain in perpetuity. Luckily the CT skips by them all except for the last one at the end of Nash Stream Road. We then headed past the gate up a recently "put to bed" main logging road. gradually rising past a few open cuts with views to the west before heading up a long gradual uphill grade towards Gadwah Notch. The great road eventually degrades and starts to get wet and quite brushed in. There are lots of bog bridge materials staging along this section but even if they were all installed there was no way to avoid getting wet. After heading through some softwood stands, the trail continues climbing into upland hardwood stands, infested with hobblebush and ferns doing their best to take over the trail. Wet trail runners are now expected, the trail is well marked but fighting the emerging hobblebush filling in from the sides across the trailbed slowed us down on occasion, we obviously were hiking along blazed property lines not shown on the map and occasionally past older logging roads. A general comment about the CT map is that it does not show a lot if any man made structures. I think the trail is quite accurately portrayed but showing major structures, like windtowers in the field would be helpful to me. I did not buy the trail guide but we guessed that Baldhead Lean To would not have water so we tanked up at stream and filled a water bag which my friend hauled up to Old Baldhead Lean to. The summit of Baldhead is fairly flat with just a lot of bumps and hollows with the hobblebush and ferns ever present. We eventually came to Baldhead Shelter, Contrary to the name, Baldhead is not bald. There appears to have been an attempt long ago to clear a view but its long since obscured by new growth. There is no water at the shelter and none nearby or any real directions to the nearest water. The area around the shelter is a bit damp and mossy but I sure would not depend on it. It was built in 2002 and was the first CT shelter. Tall people beware, its really easy to bump your head on the roof joists. It would be nice if they install signage at the last reliable water source on either side of the shelter so that someone planning a night there would know to fill up. On hot and humid day its is easy to get dehydrated

Day 3 (today 4/7) started out sunny. We slowly worked out way out of the ferns and hobblebush to come out parallel with a recent large logging cut. There was a fair share of recent blowdowns in the trail, we cleared the ones we could as we went long but some saw work on the bigger stuff is still needed. We eventually came out onto a recent logging road and eventually out onto the Granite Reliable Wind Farm road which gradually climbs up the ridge and provided some views south to North Percy. It was hot and we elected to skip heading to base of the towers and took the CT via the bypass road and then back into the woods before encountering a well beat down ATV road. We quickly turned onto an older road and headed mostly flat and level before coming out at the top of the former Balsams Ski area looking a bit worse for wear after being closed for several years. The trail bed is not wide and as we went along towards Table Rock the trail got wet, real wet with moss and mud for most of the route. It looks to be part of the former Balsams walking trail system. It would need relocation off the former road or extensive bog bridging. Our trail runners were wet so we just plodded on through. In dryer weather it may be a drier trail bed but moss is never a good sign. Meanwhile we could hear some rumbling off in the dista0cne on occasion. We got to Table Rock with clear skies intending a long break but a few raindrops and increasing rumbling encouraged us to head down to our car. The CT down west of Table Rock to the car is far drier with a steep in spots, far more established trail bed, we didn't spend a lot of time at the Huntington Cascades but as we walked out in the parking lot of the rest area at the base we saw the first person we had seen on the entire trip. We had seen plenty of moose track and poop but no moose. It was really rumbling out when we got to the car but it was dry, we headed east to Errol and while stopping by at LL Cotes, the skies opened up and it was pouring down RT 16 until we cut over RT 110A to pick up our car, we did see moose on the side of the road in Milan heading towards Berlin.

In the past the CT had the rep of being hard to follow, that is not the case in the section we backpacked this time. The markers are there but they are not huge so some care needs to be taken but compared to much of the white's trails I would rate it superior. That is good as noted in the northern far more "wild" and lesser trod north end of the forest the treadway is not wide and I expect even with dedicated volunteers, keeping the path open would be a challenge. Views are few and far between, I think the term used on the AT is a "green tunnel" and that fits this trip. The recent wet weather led to a decent crop of bugs, nothing DEET didnt deal with but the deer flies were abundant and annoying. My friend used a Deer Fly patch on the back of his hat and collected quite a few. I just put up with them buzzing around, as long as we were moving they were not bad. Old Baldhead Shelter had quite a crop but they disappeared as the evening wore on. Our pace was pokey, this is the first extended backpack for me post ankle break and since early covid. This was an early shakedown for a longer trip in September, and the ankle seemed to tolerate it well, but I still need to go slow especially when I can't see my feet due to undergrowth. The heat and humidity probably slowed me down as much, not a lot of breeze in the woods and went through a lot of electrolyte tabs. A general hint is try to do this northbound up the Nash Stream Valley, the grades are better and the difficulty increases as the north end is approached.
Last edited:
BTW, all the campsites have bear boxes but my guess is the low usage and good practices by users will keep animal habituation from being an issue unless they are being trained at the cabins and expanding their territory.
Thanks for that excellent report. In my hiking off Nash Stream rd, I wondered about the CT. It seems like a great trail to get away from the crowds of the Whites and I wondered how it was to follow. Interesting too about the remaining camps, I guess roots are hard to pull up in the North Country.
I think the time to visit is in the late/fall when it is dried up. Using Nash Stream Road I think a couple of interesting loops could be set up. The climb out of the valley past Gadwah Notch is quite feels quite far out there, we didnt see any moose but almost continuous signs. A long car spot to route 26 but its an usual variety of woods types interspersed with the rather industrial scale wind farm roads. The worst trail condition was from top of the Balsams to Table Rock via a former cross country ski trail. I could speculate that the location of the CT may change when the Balsams expands so they may have elected to spend resources on it as the current route is composed of connecting up old trails.
I looked up the DIxville Capital Permit Document for the Balsams Ski Area. the expansion will definitely impact the CT from where it first encounters the wind farm road north to Route 26. GIven the resorts reluctance expressed at the meeting to even allow continued public access to the Table Rock Trail, I wonder if the CT will even be allowed to cross the substantially expanded ski resort.