The Rattlesnakes, Beede Falls, Old Mountain Highway | 5/30/23
I didn’t make a plan today. I was hoping to get called into work, didn’t, and then decided to shoot for my closest trailhead to do the most miles with the least driving. I drove a little under an hour on the highway, then got to experience the usual under-the-limit alley of 113 where you’re lucky to crawl over 20 miles per hour.
My no-plan aspect didn’t help when I could’ve started at any one of 4 trailheads for the Rattlesnakes, but after being unclear on the start for Col Trail, I just parked on Metcalf Road for the Butterworth Trail, which had room for 6 well-parked cars at the kayak launch just before the road goes private.
The start of the Butterworth Trail made me think I had something wrong with my legs. My calves were EXPLODING. It turns out, this is just the effect of switchback-less 700-foot gain in 0.6 miles. I didn’t have any other issues with the rapid gain all day, but it certainly was an abrupt start after sitting in the car! After a good minute atop East Rattlesnake, I went down East Rattlesnake Trail, out-and-backed the section that goes to Pinehurst Road, then turned around to do the Five-Finger-Point Trail. It was here I’d internalized that the universe saw me as a decaying moose carcass. I had never experienced such horrible bugs and when there weren’t bugs in my mouth, spider webs were tickling my legs. It was a sensory disaster. However, I will say, this trail was super chill and beautiful. Had the bugs been better, I would’ve waded in the lake.
By the end of this mostly flat loop, I went up West Rattlesnake via Pasture, which was pretty steep, and then back down via Ridge. With most of my elevation out of the way, I went back towards the junction I’d started ascending from via Col, which was pretty yucky. This section was muddy, had some sketchy footing, and at one point I heard a huge crash in the trees that was most likely a large, probably black and brown-snouted animal. Didn’t see one though. After disliking that section of Col Trail so much, I decided I would rather go up East Rattlesnake Trail AGAIN, bag Ridge Trail, then finish the rest of Col Trail. I was happy with this execution.
The side of Col Trail closest to 113 was extremely buggy and at times surrounded by high grass, which I ran through because, ya know, snakes and things.
I popped back out on 113 and then road-walked back to my car on Metcalf, which wasn’t too bad of a walk at all. Even from my car, I had exceptional views of Red Hill, recognizable by its fire tower, standing over Squam Lake.
Afterward, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do some stuff I had behind the Squam Range or go check out Beede Falls, but I rarely do waterfall trails when I’m solo so I decided to treat myself with the Bearcamp River Trail. I took it in from the Mead Base because it’s home to one of the finest White Mountain Trailhead bathrooms, walked about 0.6 to the falls, looped around for lower falls on a tight footpath where I didn’t see anything too spectacular, and then popped back out towards Cow Cave where I walked back to my vehicle.
After 2 good stops, I decided the last move for the day was going to be Old Mountain Highway, a trail I didn’t know to be a trail until after I’d done surrounding trails. I parked outside the maple house off of the scenic Burleigh Farm Road and started towards the height of land, just before the cemetery. Up until here, the road is pretty drivable for somebody with good tread and high clearance. But, beyond it, this highway is no longer a highway. The rest of the trail was extremely eroded, oftentimes the walkable footpath only a foot wide. For the most part, the trail follows yellow blazes but towards the end they became sparse. I passed several stonewalls, which aren’t uncommon in New England, but I passed more than I’d ever seen in a tight stretch before. I’m sure they hold inhabitation connections to the cemetery up the road, but unfortunately, I couldn’t find any resources to provide more history about this part of Holderness circa 1700.
When I got back to my car, there was a massive pile of bear scat within a stone’s throw of my car that wasn’t there before, but I still didn’t see one despite plenty of signs they were around today.
Today's miles broke down as such.
Rattlesnake Stuff: 9.49 miles, 1933 gain
Bearcamp & Lower Falls: 1.65 miles, 136 gain
Old Mtn Hwy: 2.8 miles, 275 gain