Sandwich Mountain

Posted on May 14, 2007 by Chris Lumens in .

Yesterday, Lon and I drove up north to hike Sandwich Mountain a 3980’ peak in the middle of the Sandwich Range wilderness. With the days getting longer and warmer, we decided to take a leisurely start, hitting the trail just before 10am. We made a couple stops to eat, buy lunch, and pick up White Mountain National Forest parking passes. It also took a little while to find the trailhead.

First we headed up the Drakes Brook trail which was quite gentle and wide in the beginning, though the stream crossing early on was difficult due to the water volume from snow melt. Lon thought that this trail could be used by skiers in the winter because of how wide it was. After a mile or a mile and a half, the trail started to angle away from the stream. It got a lot steeper here as we got to the “New England switchbacks” - a very steep section straight up the mountain, followed by a right turn and a short traverse, followed by another right turn and more steep. Somewhere in this steep part, we also ran into a bunch of hard-packed snow in the middle of the trail. This would stay with us for most of the rest of the way up. Before too long, it leveled back out and we were at the ridge.

Here, we had a choice. There was a short side trail up to Jennings Peak to the right, and the Sandwich Mountain trail to the left. We decided to run up the spur to see what was there. The spur trail started off mostly level before turning a corner and heading straight up the side of the peak. After a short while, it popped out into a scrubby area with open ledges. We got the best views of the day from these ledges - across to Sandwich and Tripyramid and way over to the Presidential range. It was so good that we had to stop here for lunch.

After a long lunch, we quickly made our way back down to the trail intersection. Now it was time to head up to the Sandwich summit, just over a mile away. Soon after leaving the junction we entered the Wilderness and began seeing signs of moose everywhere. We also got a lot more snow. The hike up to the summit was a little more aggravating than anything else due to the slope and the lack of scenery. After a good while, we finally made it to the top where there were decent views but nothing quite like Jennings Peak. Lon decided to lay on some rocks, and I took this opportunity to run over and hit the Carroll County high point (see my previous article about this kind of stuff).

Soon, it was time to head out. We were back to the earlier junction in no time and kept on cruising to another junction a little farther down. I had to keep stopping from time to time to pull the snow and bits of forest out of my boots. This slowed me down a little, but not too much. At this section junction, we kept on the Sandwich Mountain trail instead of retracing our steps from earlier. The trail trended downward but was more of a ridge walk than anything. After about two miles, we ran into the first people of the day and talked with them a while. We kept going and eventually found where all the elevation loss occurred - on this really steep and rocky piece of trail at the end of the ridge. At the bottom, we ran into a group of families who were heading up. I’m sure they had fun on that part.

The rest of the way was a pleasant walk through the woods, with more spring as we went on and the snow far behind. We hit the parking lot right at 3:30, five and a half hours after leaving. That’s better than the guide suggests including all our rest time. The guide also says this was a strenuous hike. I feel pretty good about how I did even if I did bash my shin on a rock near the end and have a bit of lingering knee pain today. All in all, it was a great day spent in the mountains.