Print this information and keep it with your maps and guidebook.
The Owl's Head Trail was reopened on October 11, 2010 thanks to Ray & Joan Chaput, Bob Ball, Dave & Kathi Govatski, Ed Clark & Judy Dearborn and Bill and Peg Fischang. Landowners Ken and Lila Swift & Family of Pasadena, California gave permission to the Randolph Mountain Club to reroute the closed portion of trail across their property, restoring access to already existing trails. Thanks everyone for a job well done!
Open Trails in Pittsburg: Several trails have opened up in Pittsburg to eliminate a lot of the road walking. If you are starting your hike at the northern terminus, the US/Canadian border, then you should be aware that there's construction going on and there's no long-term parking available at the customs station. So....with that being said, here is a step by step run-down of the hike from North to South.
To start, either park your vehicle at Deer Mountain Campground (with permission) and hike to the border, or hire a shuttle service. Check in with the border agents before hiking into Fourth Connecticut Lake or heading south on The Cohos Trail in back of the station.
The section of trail in back of the border station to Deer Mountain Campground remains the same as mentioned on the maps and in the guidebook.
From Deer Mountain Campground, walk south to Sophie Lane (on your right) and take your first left at the snowmobile junction of Corridor 5..... pass through the log landing and go a few dozen steps onto the grassy snowmobile trail, watching for the trail that goes into the woods on the right. This is the beginning of the new Black Cat Trail and the dirt road you come to is the Desmond Valley Rd. Turn left to hit Route 3 and cross over West Inlet Brook and go back into the woods just south of the concrete abuttment.
Follow the wide-cut trail until you come to a junction - spur to the left takes you to Johnson Spring - right turn continues the trail. In about 3/4 mile, you'll come out to another dirt road, go straight across the dirt road and watch for the yellow blazes. Follow this to the road crossing of Route 3. Cross Route 3 and follow the yellow blazes (R & J Chaput Trail) again to the Idlewilde Road, turn left and pick up the Idlewilde Spur.
'Idlewilde Spur' will take you .3 mile to the north end of the 2nd Lake Dam on Route 3.
Turn left and visit the point (with the CT bench) then cross the wide parking area to the south end and pick up 'The Falls in The River Trail' which will take you 1.5 miles to The Falls, then another .5 mile to the junction with 'The Moose Alley Trail'.
Turn left onto the Moose Alley Trail and follow it out to the Magalloway Road 1.6 miles. Cross the Magalloway Road and take the Camp Otter Trail 2.9 miles to the Camp Otter Road. You're actually going to come out at the end of someone's driveway, so walk the few extra feet to the real road and turn right at Dorman's mailbox.
Head west towards Route 3 bearing right at the intersection with Merrill Road.
Turn right (north) on Route 3 and cross the bridge over the Round Pond Brook then take an immediate left onto a grassy tote road that says 'Private' no parking... pass around the gate to the left and continue on for approximately 1/4 mile. When you come out into the abandoned log yard, stay to the left of the open area and look for a post and sign on the far end marking 'Round Pond Brook Trail'.
Follow the Round Pond Brook Trail for approximately 1.1 mile to the Round Pond Rd. then take a right...
Walk the camp road approximately 3/4 mile and this road dead-ends with 'Wetherbee's Camp' on the left and a small log yard on the right. Enter in at the log yard and follow the CT signs and yellow blazes up over the Covell Mountain Trail.
Approximately 4+ miles more and you'll be at a mowed snowmobile trail. If you want to camp, make a phone call, take a pit stop, then go left and you'll be at the office building of Ramblewood Cabins and Campground.
To continue the trail, take a right instead - go a few hundred feet, then take a left onto X-country ski trail #2 that's also marked with yellow blazes. There's a pile of old boat docks on the corner here too....
Stay on trail #2 approximately 1/4 mile until you see the yellow blazes shooting off uphill through the woods. You're now officially on the Prospect Mountain Trail although no sign has been made yet. Follow this trail up high by a camp then the trail drops down to a low, swampy section with bog bridges - comes out to a camp road where you'll turn left and then right - to make the final climb up to the top of Prospect.
After taking in the view of First Connecticut Lake and the north end of Lake Francis - follow the steep & can-be-rough skidder road 1/4 mile down the mountain watching for signs on the left that take you southeast through the woods.
At the next trail jct. with the 'Border Trail', take a right and follow this down to a dirt road. (On the Border Trail is a two-man three-sided lean-to that you're welcome to stay in.)
At the dirt road, turn left then an immediate right and head down the mountain (or stay at Bear Ledge Campground).
At the bottom of the steep hill, turn right onto the main part of Danforth Road and follow this road for approximately 1 mile, turn left onto Route 3 then take a right into Young's Store parking lot. Happy Corner Cafe' is located next door. Across the street you can either take a cabin or pitch a tent at Mountain View Cabins and Campground.
When you're ready to go on, look for the small kiosk at the back edge of the parking area at Young's Store and go left after passing the kiosk and walking down over the short rocky hill. CT signs are up at both ends of this 1/2 mile section of mowed trail and will take you out to the River Road, where you'll cross the River Road onto a grassy, mowed road - then turn right onto The River Road Trail at the snowmobile trail junction sign 140/139. This is all mowed and quite easy to follow.
The River Road Trail is approximately .7 mile long and will bring you out to Carr's Ridge Rd. Take a left here, walk a few hundred feet, cross the bridge over the Connecticut River, then take an immediate right onto the Lake Francis Trail.
The Lake Francis Trail is mowed for the first mile or so until you come to a badly washed out culvert which is scheduled to be taken care of this summer. Take care crossing this 10-14 foot wide culvert and stay on this trail for another 3+ miles (bearing right at any questionable junction) out to two bridges and the Cedar Stream Road. The grasses grow quite hardy out here so be careful with your footing. There are numerous culverts, mini-washouts, etc... and walking can be tricky.
After crossing the second bridge, you'll see the state's kiosk on the left - take the short spur road to the right onto the Cedar Stream Road. Walk the Cedar Stream Road for approximately 4 miles and watch for the Deadwater Loop on your left, just after the million-dollar bridge. Turn onto the Deadwater Loop and follow this dirt road for 1.9 miles watching for the state kiosk for trail 21. Turn right onto trail 21, cross the snowmobile bridge and you'll see a sign 'Deadwater Trail' on a tree to your right. Follow the Deadwater Trail for approximately 1.3 miles (signed) where you'll come to a jct. If you look straight, up on a tree to the left of the trail is a weathered sign 'To Ferguson's Field' and another sign 'To Rudy's******. If you're planning on camping at Rudy's then take this trail, pass around two gates, cross the field, pass around another gate and follow the Ferguson Road approximately .7 mile out to the Clarksville Pond road, where you'll turn left and walk another 3/4 mile. Rudy's is on your right.
To continue on with the trail instead, turn left and follow this somewhat mucky snowmobile trail uphill passing through an open wide wooden gate with CT signs and a sign 'To Weir's Tree Farm'.... Follow the signs and blazes up to the Grand View Snack Shack with a fabulous view. Refer to the maps from this point on south.
South to North*****To Camp at Rudy's Campground: After you pass by The Grand View Snack Shack at Weir's Tree Farm, drop down over the hill, bear sharp left, then left again at the boardpile, through the woods road coming out at the two gates (gate to left is closed to Clarksville Bog) - go straight through the open wooden gate (signed) and drop downhill coming out to the next junction. If you look left, you'll see a sign that says 'Furgerson's Field' and another one that says 'To Rudy's. Take a left here and follow this snowmobile trail for approx. 1/8 mile passing around two closed gates then you'll come out to an open field......go straight across the hay field via tire tracks to another gate on the far side. Pass around this gate onto the Furgerson Road and follow this out .7 mi to the Clarksville Pond Rd. Take a left and Rudy's is approx. 3/4 mile on the right.
SLIDE BROOK TRAIL: (Jefferson) just north of Route 115, this trail is still closed. Work is still scheduled to begin in 2011. A long string of bog bridges are being developed to carry the trail over beaver flowage.
To bypass the closed trail, northbounders must turn east (right) on Route 115 and follow it to Route 115A. Turn north (left) on Route 115A and walk a quarter mile and go under a powerline. Look on the left now and watch for a gate 100 feet to the south (left). Once you see the gate, turn toward it and pass through or around it. You are on the old B&M Railroad bed headed toward Moorhen Marsh and Cherry Pond in the Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge. That's exactly where you want to be.
Southbounders will have come around Cherry Pond and will be headed east toward the Presidential Range in the distance, walking on the old B&M Railroad bed. The trail used to cut south just after the big trestle bridge over Slide Brook, but now the trail will continue on the railbed to Route 115A. Reach 115A and turn uphill (right) and walk a quarter mile to Route 115. Turn right,(south), and walk a long half mile to the Owls Head trailhead on the left side of the highway. You are where you should be.
During dry seasons, there is very little potential for getting water after you pass the spring on Mt. Starr King and before you get into the notches between the two prominent mountain ranges, the Pliny and the Pilots. Be sure to carry lots of water with you over the Pliny's or run the real risk of serious dehydration. The only spring you will find beyond Starr King is a small seep on the southeast flank of Mt. Weeks. Unfortunately, it dries out often.
In the Pilots, the water situation is much better. However, on the trek up Mt. Cabot, you should bring plenty of water with you for the overnight at the Mt. Cabot watchman's cabin. There is a spring near the summit of Cabot, but it is very difficult to find and a long, arduous way off the trail downhill.
SUGARLOAF MT. TRAIL:
Extensive work was done on this trail in July, 2008. DRED, the NorthWoods Stewardship Center and the Cohos Trail Association worked to get this trail upgraded. The NorthWoods Stewardship Center installed over 70 rock waterbars.
There is a tarpolin in the lean-to, plus a hammer and nails. If you are caught in a freak storm that rams wind and rain into the lean-to, pull down the tarp, set it with nails and take shelter. Before you leave, pack up the tarp, stow it away, and pull the nails out and put them back in the tin can.
On the south flank of Dixville Peak, you are exposed to full sun and heat for as much as two hours on the long push up the mountain. Be sure to prepare for this possibility during hot weather. Also road construction will be going on this summer (2011) for the 33 wind towers.
LINK TO THE BALSAMS WILDERNESS SKI AREA
Well down the slopes of Dixville Peak as you trek north, the wide old service road eventually makes a S-turn uphill to the right and then downhill to the left. In the left turn, the Cohos Trail cuts right and uphill. Be sure not to follow the old service road into the valley. Be sure to watch for the link trail in the tight left turn, and climb out uphill going northbound toward the ski area summit about a quarter of a mile away...
LINK TRAIL TO TABLE ROCK
About 500 feet north and below the ski lift towers on the wide ski trail, the Cohos Trail link out to Table Rock (a mile away) cuts right at a shallow angle. Watch for the trail drifting to the right and take it. The trail stays with the ridgeline and does not descend into the valley as the ski trails do.
WEATHER TOWER ROAD ON NORTH SANGUINARY RIDGE:
A dirt road has been built along some of the distance of north Sanguinary Ridge, between Mt. Sanguinary's true summit and the summit of Mud Pond Ridge. The Cohos Trail now pops out of the woods onto that trail. There is yellow blazing in the trees where it comes out of the woods, so those moving in the opposite direction can see the trail entrance off the road readily.
Walk this ridgeline lane for more than a quarter mile. There's a wind tower at the head of the lane. Northbounders will reach a hard turn downhill. Follow around the turn and watch on your right for two yellow-topped stakes. That's the trail leaving the road and going off to the Panorama lean-to.
MUD POND ACCESS:
On some older maps and the old guidebook, there is incorrect information about the access to Mud Pond once the trail comes off the High Route onto the Spruce Trail north of the pond itself. In the old info, it indicated the pond could be reached by making a 50 foot jog to the left and then follow a trail to the right. This way actually takes the hiker below Mud Pond and up onto the flank of Van Dyke Mt. and Sugar Hill.
To reach Mud Pond's north spillway pipe and dam (nice place for lunch), come down off the High Route onto the broad Spruce Trail. Turn left (southwest) and walk 700 to 800 feet on the old gravel lane (no traffic). Pick up the access to the pond on the right and descend gradually to a little earthen dam with a spill pipe in it. This is a great spot for lunch and a fine spot to watch wildlife. If you camp here, you are sure to be rewarded sometime during the evening or early morning with wildlife sightings. Moose, black bear, loon and barred owl are common in the area.
SHORT CUT TO COLEMAN STATE PARK:
Many people take the shortcut (green line on the maps) to cut off the long loop trek around Nathan Pond. We recommend this unless the weather has been very dry. The route south of Nathan Pond is notoriously low and wet and the lane north of the pond sports some of the heaviest grasses and weed growth on the CT. Although the trek to Nathan Pond is worth the effort (in my opinion), it is not when conditions are anything less than perfect.
NORTH OUT OF COLEMAN STATE PARK:
The Haynes Hill Trail just beyond the southern lip of Coleman State Park cuts right off the CSP main road. This trail is a snowmobile trail. In its lower reaches it is wet and it was logged several years ago. Trekkers report it is in very tough condition in the summer. Bypass this trail by walking half a mile downhill on the main road until you reach the lowest section of the way. Turn right downhill at the first well-built lane you come to (Heath Road). That will put you on the route toward Bear Rock Road. Yellow Blazes were touched up in 2010!
From The Lake Francis Trail To Lake Francis State Park - Bear Ledge Campground - Mountain Bungalow - Ramblewood - Mountainview Cabins & Campground Or Snowfield Cabins
Option 1:Lake Francis State Park From the River Road at Carr's Ridge Rd. (if you're northbound) - turn left and follow the River Road down (less than a mile) to the Lake Francis State Campground. The Campground Store carries snacks & drinks, maps, good company & lots of information on the area.
Option 2: Mountain View Campground - Snowfield Cabins or Bear Ledge Campground - From the River Road at Carr's Ridge Rd. - turn right and follow the River Road Trail .7 mi (MOWED) Cross the River Road onto the Minnon-Young Trail and follow this trail for 1/2 mile to Young's Store. Cross Rt. 3 at the northernmost end of the parking lot and take Mountainview Rd. and either stay in Mountain View Campground or continue up through the campground to a short spur in the woods, taking a right onto Danforth Road. Follow Danforth, staying straight past Kingsfield** and Covill Rd. and Danforth Rd. dead-ends at a white house and turn-around. At the last mailbox on the left (266-Castine), take the steep drive up and at the next fork, you'll see Bear Ledge Campground on your right.
**If you'd like a nice cabin and hot showers at this point, Snowfield Cabins is located on Kingsfield Road.
THE ROUTE 5 SNOWMOBILE TRAIL TO THE BORDER
From Deer Mountain Campground, northbounders should keep right at virtually all turns all the way north along the route around Moose Flowage and up to Third Connecticut Lake and the border. In short, stay in the vicinity of the river. Do not branch left anywhere and wander into the uplands to the west.
Southbounders should stay left at virtually all turns and junctions on the way south from the border to Deer Mountain Campground. (One left may take you a few feet into a sandpit. Just backtrack and head south). Do not turn right anywhere along the route and move into the uplands in the west. Stay in the river valley.
1. The White Mountain National Forest Trails have no CT signs whatsoever. Blazing may be white, light blue, yellow or other colors. Some of these trails are well maintained by other organizations, such as the Randolph Mountain Club, the Appalachian Mountain Club and, of course, by the Forest Service. To get a complete picture of the White Mountain National Forest trails, see the guidebooks that the Randolph Mountain Club and the Appalachian Mountain Club make available to the public
3. For Southbounders: The guidebook is written as if one is northbound on the CT. Southbounders must reverse ALL turns to make the trek. Now, if you walk the trail backwards....
4. Fire Nonstarters: In Coos County and elsewhere around the state, to build a fire out of doors, you must have permission from the landowner and a written permit from the town fire warden. That sums up the TCTA fire policy pretty well. We at TCTA cannot and do not condone the building of campfires.
5. No Phoning Home: If you reach the Canadian border without some arrangement to get out of the area, you are in a pickle. You cannot use phones at the U.S. Customs Station. Your cell phone has long since been out of reach of a cell tower. There is no phone at Deer Mountain Campground four miles to the south. The nearest phone is at Young's Store in Pittsburg, so plan accordingly.