Flat Mountain Pond Trail & Gleason Trail | 5/22/23
Flat Mountain Pond trail combined the ease of Franconia Brook Trail with the feel of the Dry River Wildness in a way I did not expect going in. This route was chosen to meet time constraints while also avoiding a bout of elevation, which was somewhat accomplished at 14.5 miles and 1,895 gain.
In addition to having the opportunity to complete two side-by-side hikes (Bennett Street – Guinea Pond Loop) with the same person, this hike also took place on the first day Ryan and I had seen each other after a month of being in different countries, so even a three-mile road walk felt more like a catch up than a burden.
To start, we parked at the Flat Mountain Pond Trailhead (Bennett Street) and then did a 2.75-mile road walk to the Flat Mountain Pond Trailhead (Intervale) where we got carried by mosquitos. The beginning of this trail follows a wide path, one that keeps going when the trail turns right, and then alternates between flat and limited gain until we got to the Whiteface River crossing, which had a notable path people tried to bushwhack around that didn’t go anywhere. Ryan stayed dry, but in the absence of my trekking poles, I went straight through the cold water for my safety. Just beyond this crossing, the McCrillis Trail branched off and the trail grew notably wilder as we worked further into the Wilderness Boundary.
Past this boundary, there were mud pits, washed-out riverbeds, and downed trees to vault over. It was actually super fun! As we grew closer to the pond, the trail attained a leveler pitch with dry footing. Soon, the far end of the pond came into view, where we at first right beside it, and then moved uphill through some tossed-up boulders to move above the pond, and then eventually back beside it once we neared the shelter spur. The shelter had a dam, some tent sites, and a very Long Trail-like shelter where we ate lunch. From the edge of the water, we looked up to the Sleepers and a glimpse of the South Tripyramid slide.
Beyond the shelter spur, the trail was a breeze of a perfect railroad grade. Along the way, we also got to see several artifacts from the Beebe Railroad like rails, nails, and barrels. Eventually, among mud pits and several water crossings, the trail started to feel less like a railroad grade but was never difficult; I was glad I’d surrendered rock hopping early in the day and walked straight through these several crossings. A big hairpin turn reveals rock fall out of Drake’s Pass, and we later passed Bennett Street Trail, whose surprising gain we remembered well from last summer. Other than a short out and back on Gleason for the trace (less traveled), the rest of the way was familiar from our previous loop off this trailhead.
I enjoyed this trail and the surprises it had to offer far more than anticipated. It was clear to see why it is such a popular spot for introductory backpacking as it did not feel strenuous at all after a week of making do in a hotel gym.
Frogs: 2 (THEY'RE BACK!!)