Wildcats via 19 Mile Brook, Wildcat Ridge and Polecat Ski Trl - 12/20/14


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New member
Oct 16, 2010
Reaction score
Worcester, MA
Date of Hike: 12/20/14

Trails: 19 Mile Brook, Wildcat Ridge and Polecat Ski Trails

Conditions: The 19 Mile Brook Trail was a well packed highway all the way to the Wildcat Ridge Trail. At the junction we stopped and switched to snowshoes because it looked like there had not been any traffic on the Wildcat Ridge Trail since the last snow storm (at least). The climb up Wildcat A was a strenuous haul. There was a faint trace of a trail in front of us, with several inches of fresh powder on top to break through. We lost the trail only once, at the first switchback, but quickly realized our mistake and headed back to the turn (we put some brush down to hopefully discourage people from repeating our mistake). The light fluffy powder made for tough going, making for a lot of (scary) sliding potential. The sidehill is so steep I worried a few times that I’d slide down sideways and not stop until I was back on the 19 Mile Brook Trail. In other places I felt like I was taking 2 steps forward and sliding 1 step back = very frustrating. This was all while ducking under, stepping over or scooting around all the low-hanging, ice-covered branches and blow downs. After reaching the ridge it was fairly easy going (except for the dodging of all the brush and trees) until we reached the climb up Wildcat D where we repeated the 2-steps-forward-and-1-step-back sliding of earlier. On the other side we headed down the Polecat Ski Trail (thank you Wildcat Ski area). Luckily we were coming down after last chair, so we were almost alone on the ski trails and could butt sled down. We did meet the last of the ski patrol but they were very nice and friendly, warned of us the icy conditions and wished us well.

Special Equipment Required: Microspikes on the hike in on the 19 Mile Brook Trail and down the Polecat Ski Trail, and snowshoes on the Wildcat Ski Trail. The spikes and televators on my MSRs were really useful on the slopes up, and we really needed the float in many places. On some of the slopes crampons may have helped us bite in a bit more, but it would have come at the expense of postholing … and everyone knows that every time you posthole god kills a kitten.

Comments: I know I’ve read discussions on the brushing of the Wildcat Trail and I understand that the trail adopters brush in a way that is acceptable to the USFS, but I gotta say that it was really rough going up, down and all around the brush/trees/low-hanging branches. Be prepared for frustration. And as to Wildcat and access to their ski trails – we had no problems and were not asked to pay and the ski patrols were friendly and nice – I’m going to attribute that to the fact that 1. we were the only ones on the ridge that day 2. we were two exhausted-but-smiling ladies sticking to the sides of the trails and 3. we were heading down after last chair so there was little/no traffic on the trails. I can’t promise that you’ll find the same welcome if you have a larger group or are heading down at a busier time. Maybe try to time your hike so that you’re coming down at day’s end and you’ll find the same experience?

Jen English

jenglish one at worcester dot edu