Mount Katherine: Four Ways
Updated: Nov 6, 2022
Sandwich Wilderness & The Northern Presidentials are easily the two areas I’ve covered the least ground in. Unfortunately, the Northern Presidentials are on hold as I continue to gain strength back on my left side but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t hike something low-profile out of Ferncroft.
Continuing my apparent Kate Sleeper theme for the summer, I embarked north to cover Mount Katherine and every single trail one could use to access it. Kate Sleeper, who I became familiar with when I did the Sleepers last month, was from Boston and frequented the Sandwich Wilderness area in the 1800s on vacation. After many years of vacationing, she opened an Inn in the area and soon formed the Wonalancet Outdoor Club- always a fan of learning about the history of names, but especially when they involve notable women who were pioneers of their time!
With a late start, around 10 am, I parked at Ferncroft and made my way up the road to Red Path. It was well marked with signs to get into the woods and continued to be properly kept with blue blazes. I quickly reached the junction of Pasture & Tilton Spring Path and continued up to Mount Katherine, ended up being about 25 minutes from the lot to the top moving at a moderate pace and easily talking on the phone the whole time. After I returned to the junction, I took a left down Tilton Spring Path and continued for a mile until I reached McCrillis Path.
McCrillis Path started so incredibly lovely- I had some pre-saved From The Backcountry podcasts to listen to and enjoyed the first half of the trail a lot. About a mile in, there's an obvious blockage with downed trees on what looks to be the rest of the well-kept trail. After checking Gaia, it became apparent I would have to keep right and abandon the nice-looking trail for a messy, overgrown, and uncomfortable under-foot trail.
After passing a handful of ski trails, I emerged from the woods and pondered with Google Maps as I entered Ferncroft into the destination box. It said 2.4 miles. Not bad, it's less than I traveled to get out here and I didn’t exactly want to repeat what I just did because of the bugs. So I started my road walk.
A mile and a half in, I realized I had put “Ferncroft” into the GPS. Not “Ferncroft Trailhead.” It was going to be about 5 miles of road walking in 85-degree heat on a freshly paved road on my potentially unreliable ankle. Oops. I sort of just sucked it up but I was running out of podcasts.
I ended up walking about 2.5 miles, rather comfortably, before I met a really sweet old dog who followed me down 113A for a few moments before his owner noticed and put together that I was walking back to Ferncroft. After some conversation, I graciously accepted the ride he offered which allowed me to put down more miles that matter instead of road walking.
After a 3 mile journey that I was thankful to not walk, I went down the other side of Ferncroft where I finished the bottom half of Pasture Path and finished the last 0.2 miles of McCrillis Path to keep my tracing honest. Though it only gave me an extra 0.7 miles of new trail, I had to do 3 miles to cover this ground and get back to the car. I’ve got to say, I am quite excited to not need to go back and tie up any more loose ends in this area.
All in all, I walked 11.71 miles on an ankle that struggled with 5 miles just four days prior. Not crazy mileage, but very promising in terms of getting myself back on a 4K soon!