A modest hike to Eagle Mountain | Hiking news


Mount Washington Hotel, Glen House, Crawford House, Profile House, Mount Pleasant House, Ravine House – these were named for the surrounding landscape of White Mountain. The same goes for the Eagle Mountain House, first built in 1849, destroyed by fire in 1915, rebuilt in 1916 and enlarged in 1929.

Just west of this venerable structure is a small 1,613-foot peak named Eagle Mountain, the last point of a low ridge that extends south of Wildcat Mountain.

There are a few ledges near the summit on the south and east side. In an earlier agrarian era, when there were fewer troublesome trees on the mountain, a farmer might have looked up from below and spotted an eagle perched there, roaming the entire area in search of game.

Today, a 0.9 mile trail to Eagle Mountain takes you to the South Rim Viewpoint and a little further up the Treetop Cairn.

This Monday, I was looking for a modest hike to finish before the rain announced at noon. I left by car before knowing my destination. I rarely do this, but it always works.

Driving north between Conway and North Conway I looked right and saw the sign for Pine Hill Community Forest. I was wondering if there was still a trail built to the top of the modest 883ft peak of Pine Hill. It would certainly be interesting to write about the new 436 acre forest.

I parked in the LL Bean parking lot and called Will Abbott from the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust. He said a meeting would be held very soon to make plans for a trail that would cross the summit, but there was no trail yet. I thanked him.

A minute of contemplation in the retailer’s famous outdoor parking lot and Eagle Mountain in Jackson came to mind. I left again.

Staying north on Route 16 for 14 miles, turned right under the Jackson Covered Bridge, around the village and the Wildcat River, and took the next right to Carter Notch Road. In nearly a mile, the striking white Eagle Mountain House appeared on the left. Right after the building, I turned and drove behind it to the upper parking lot.

I put the traction on foot, grabbed my bag, and walked to an old logging road in the middle of the upper lot that crosses to the left. There were footprints in the few inches of snow, some going to Eagle Mountain, others continuing to follow a cross-country ski trail.

The road swung to the right and a small sign for the Eagle Mountain Trail appeared on a tree on the right side. I turned. The trail was familiar and I remembered friends I had been with. After a while, I passed a large, familiar, shallow pool on the left. It was frozen over and I followed other footprints on it, my first ice adventure this year.

The path approached a long rock. In the past, it was not clear whether to bypass it to the left or to the right. I followed footprints in the snow to the right.

Then the trail got steep. I was glad I had the foot traction, not so much for the few inches of snow as for the oak leaves below.

As I went up, a modest rocky promontory appeared through the trees on the slope to the right, at one point probably a good lookout for man or bird. There was no trail and I continued on the steep trail to where the angle eased and it turned left towards the top.

I reached the best lookout ledge on the left. The landscape below was brown under the overcast sky. To the east was the crest of Tin Mountain and Tyrol Mountain. Below was the golf course and, emerging from the trees, the Eagle Mountain House – impressive even from where I stood.

To the south, the valley was open, with the Moat Range halfway across.

Even though I had brought lunch, it was too cold. I continued to the summit cairn and came back down. Back to my car, there were raindrops starting to fall on the windshield.

I decided to briefly enter the hotel lobby through the back entrance. The heat was pleasant and it felt like stepping into a past era. I told the investigating clerk that I had just climbed Eagle Mountain and looked around, and he smiled gratefully and left me alone.

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