SW Twin


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Apr 16, 2008
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Meredith, NH
It was difficult to decide whether to approach SW Twin from the north (Twins) or the south... but after a number of folks weighed in, it was decided that we would approach SW Twin from the south / Franconia Brook Trail.

Tim Lucia, Lew Dow, Barb Audin and I met at 6am and began hiking the Lincoln Woods Trail in headlamps. As morning light approached, and as we neared one of the Camp 9 Brook beaver ponds, a female moose and her yearling came out of the pond, looked down the tunnel of trail at us, and tramped off into the woods. Moose... I almost always take that as a good omen.

Brook crossings went well... especially when Tim (who has a good 13" on me) extended his hands to help me rock hop!

We hiked a few tenths north of Red Rock Brook and took a short break before launching into the woods. (2:20 to here)

Our plan was to try to follow the spine of the ridge up to the summit. The lower third was through fairly easy / open woods. it got steep, but the woods were not hard. About 2800' we hit a tall cliff. Lew found a line up through some steep woods (Lew is good at that), and as we kicked our feet into the dirt and grabbed roots, we knew that we could not descend this way. At the top of the cliff we were happy to find a skid road, which we would use on the descent. We continued climbing. Woods contained lots of fractured rock. Sometimes the woods were easy, sometimes we "swam" through 10' spruce saplings. But progress was made. About 3900' we hit the ubiquitous and dreaded, mossy, seemingly impenetrable spruce band, complete with tangled blowdowns. Yuck. So we all got our game face on and Lew led us through the band. (This is one of those times that being short comes in handy.) Once through the tough band, we caught a glimpse of the summit cone, now only bout a 1/4 mile a way.

As we approached the summit, Lew found that the summit jar had fallen and rolled down hill; we re-hung it. The last visitors there were almost a year ago. There were tiny amounts of snow and ice on summit. There were some stunning views to be had of Garfield, Galehead, the Twins, Bonds.... the slides of Redrock Cirque... by standing on rocks or by being tall like Tim! :)

On the descent I led us through some open woods on the west, but I took us too far off our southerly line... which I had to regain by contouring. (The open woods on the west did make me wonder if a whack up from 13 Falls Campsite might afford good woods. And certainly, folks coming from the Twins would find a good entrance to the final summit cone on the west side.)

On the way back down we came upon a skid road that paralleled our ascent line... then lost it and continued descending through steep and rocky woods. We took a break when we hit the skid road above the cliff band. The road went sloped downhill by heading north. We knew that the loggers would know what they were doing, and followed the road. It snaked us through the cliff band in elegant fashion, eventually disappearing under a rock slide. We continued downhill and hit another skid road. Eventually we crossed the old Camp 14 RR bed. And a few tenths later, we were back on the Franconia Brook Trail shaking out copious amounts of pine needles.

The bushwhack portion was about 3:15 for the ascent; :30 break to enjoy the views and re-energize; and 2:45 for the bushwhack descent.

The walk out was a walk out. Glad to be done well before needing headlamps! Tire feet. And dreams of cold beverages in the cooler.

Stats: 19.5 - 20 miles; 11.5 hours.

This was a big hike and whack... and with Good-natured hikers, great navigators, and perfect fall weather... couldn't have asked for a better day.

Beth Zimmer


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Oct 4, 2006
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New Hampshire
Photos from the day

Route on CalTopo.com

Route on Google Maps



p.s. This was 72/72 for the peaks - still have trail work to do.


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Sep 5, 2003
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Nice trip report! Congrats to all, especially Tim for #72.

Approaching the peak from 13 Falls sounds intriguing. I have done SW Twin from FBT twice (once in winter, once in autumn) and from the Twinway (winter). Despite online horror stories associated w/the latter (there are reportedly at least two lost GPS units up there!), we didn't find the going that bad. It IS a bit disconcerting to be *descending* to the peak you are supposedly *climbing* (much like doing Isolation from Glen Boulder), but I think I actually prefer the Twinway approach. Maybe the most appealing would be a full traverse utilizing both routes!


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Sep 8, 2005
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Somewhere in NH
Great trip report! It sounds like a blast. I only ever tried and failed SW once from the Twinway. Kudos to you all!


Jan 9, 2006
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Congratulations to all and especially to Tim for the 72. Great trip report and pics. It is great to finally have that one done. We went in much the same way. It was an expensive hike for two of us to say the least. A group of us plan to go in from the Twinway this winter.


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Oct 6, 2004
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I agree with Stinkyfeet. The trip over to SWT from the Twinway wasn't the horror story I thought it was going to be. Not easy but not hard either. It's the descent and ascent to SWT, then the descent and ascent to the Twinway and then the final ascent back up to South Twin that's tiring. A long day indeed.

Nice thing about the Twinway route is that one can visit the rocky knob that one can see from Galehead Hut and the summit of South Twin. That's definitely worth a visit if one is passing by anyway. A number of people have visited the rocky knob thinking that it is SW Twin, but it's not.

Congrats to Tim on finishing the Trailwright's list! Congrats to everyone else on the ascent of SWT!

The rocky knob left center and SW Twin to the right from Galehead Hut. Neat logging road tree growth.

The rocky knob to the left and SWT to the right.

Zoomed in view of the rocky knob from South Twin.

View of South Twin from the rocky knob. The knob itself is a little scrappy to get to but worth it.

Zoomed in view of people on South Twin from the rocky knob.

Galehead and the hut from the rocky knob.

View to Guyot's, Bond, West Bond from the knob.


Nov 15, 2010
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Lexington, MA
Hey Beth, nice report! Along with a friend, I visited SW Twin in August 2013, 5 days after John, on a gorgeous weekend. We also had a hard time deciding whether to do the Franconia Brook approach or the Twinway approach. Rather than decide, we opted for a traverse. Beyond what you reported, a few additional observations.

On Day 1, we went in via the Gale River Trail, made camp at 13 Falls, and visited Owl's Head via its NW ridge. Day 2, we headed down Franconia Brook past Twin Brook and another tributary, and slabbed up the NW side of the same ridge you visited. Shortly before we gained the ridge, we had the benefit of a 200' rock slide, which afforded a great views of Franconia Brook, Owl's Head, and the northern end of the Franconia Ridge.



It was fun to be on the crest of the ridge, and by and large we also found the woods to be cooperative, with a number of pretty open spots filled with flowers and/or ferns.


We had the same horrific spruce battle at 3900', and it took just about as long to fight our way through as it did for us to hike up to that point in the first place! I thought the summit itself was great. Nicely spaced trees, lots of moss and sun.


Continuing on to the Twinway was mostly open woods once we cleared horrific spruce on the crest and on the SE side of the ridge at "the rocky knob". I made the note to self next time to try the NW side of the knob -- apart from hopefully passable woods, the open view from there certainly would be a bonus! Views-wise, the day's high points were the slide, S. Twin, and the hut on the way back to the car.

Tim, congrats on your Trailwrights finale. Mine was Blue on Moosliauke (I'm a believer in getting the toughies out of the way up front). I too still need to do the Trailwrights portion of the trail work. Perhaps we can match calendars for that...

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