8-29-2020 Parsons-Whiteface Mountain

Ed Parsons on the summit ledge of Whiteface Mountain in North Wolfeboro on some summer day. (BEVERLY WOODS PHOTO)

New Hampshire has a multitude of mountains, large and small, and often the smaller ones offer quiet wilderness.

In March of 2019, I wrote about a small mountain in North Wolfeboro called Whiteface Mountain. My friend Beverly Woods of North Wolfeboro introduced me to it on an early spring hike.

While down that way this week, I did it on my own. Later, I told Conway artist Bob Gordon, and he suggested that I mention it again in a column for directions to an interesting easy hike in an atypical location.

When you say Mount Whiteface, people think of the popular 4,020 foot peak in the Sandwich Range, named after a striking cliff on the south side of the summit.

The smaller Whiteface Mountain in Wolfeboro is also named for a cliff on its southeast side.

Landowners and conservation groups helped to preserve it. The Wolfeboro/Tuftonboro Land Bank and the Wolfeboro Conservation Commission partnered to purchase a 120-acre parcel on the eastern side of Mount Whiteface, including the summit where there is an expansive view from the cliff top.

The Town of Wolfeboro owns the property and have an easement on it with the Lakes Region Conservation Trust, preserving the land in perpetuity.

Four years ago, young people in the Student Conservation Association built a 1-mile trail to the summit from Browns Ridge Road. A small gravel parking lot was built by Baldwin Excavation.

To get there, from the junction of Route 16 and 28 in Ossipee (next to Hannaford), take a right on Route 28. In about a mile at the new roundabout, take a left on Route 171. Soon, just after the old county courthouse, bear right on Browns Ridge Road.

In 2 miles, there is a small break in a stone wall on the right into the small trail parking lot.

Baldwin Excavation put a memorial stone and plaque there. The lot is dedicated to 6-year-old Ben Baldwin, who was killed in a tragic crash out on Route 28. It says he loved the outdoors.

The trail starts on the left side of the lot, enters an old hardwood forest and is easily followed with white blazes. Soon, it bears right at a fork and makes a wide loop to the left as it ascends the slope beneath the cliff, eventually visible through leaves above.

In the second edition of Ed Webster’s “Rock Climbs of the White Mountains,” he wrote a section on the 250-foot cliff, describing a half dozen routes, and calling the mountain Browns Ridge. The cliff was not in his third edition, perhaps because of private land. Now, 30 years later, there is a regained interest in the cliff by climbers.

Here is a paragraph from my March snowshoe hike up the mountain with Beverly Woods a year and a half previously: “As we climbed up the trail we noted many old gnarly deciduous trees, and tried to decipher each one’s struggle through the years, evidenced in its appearance. Fresh fox tracks ascended the trail, and at one point where the snow was completely disturbed we saw blood spots from its successful catch of a mouse or vole.”

This week, the trail was quiet as I climbed beneath a canopy of leaves. The trail climbed up to the right into evergreens. Near the top, it reached a junction with a trail that came up the west side through private land. I bore right there and in 50 yards reached the open summit ledge.

In the wide view the other Mount Whiteface was visible in the northwest. Mount Washington rose in the distance, with countless peaks spread out on both sides. Directly across in the valley a light streak in the trees was Ossipee Aggregates, known for leveling out Logan Airport near Boston. Pine River Pond was to the far right, and I tried to imagine the route of the Pine River from there to Ossipee Lake on my left.

There were two containers with summit logs.

The old one, which I had signed before, hung from a branch, and a new one for 2020. I signed the new one.

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