Snowshoeing to the Summit

October 20, 2010

A 1942 Appalachia story declared, “A mountain lover cannot help noticing that the skiers…seem to be handicapped in their mountaineering enjoyment by certain almost universal limitations.” Skis carried their owners too rapidly over some terrain, while other locations remained inaccessible. The author admired those who had “the courage to be deliberately slow of pace in an age dedicated to speed.” Here is a collection of peaks he might have enjoyed.

Sargent Mountain
Northeast Harbor, Maine
Within Acadia National Park, Sargent Mountain (1,379 feet) is exceeded in height by only Cadillac Mountain, and offers views across Mount Desert Island. Within a 4-mile loop on the western edge of the park you can also cross over Bald Peak and Parkman and Gilmore mountains. Start from the Norumbega parking area on Routes 198/3 and head up Bald Peak first, then connect to Parkman and Gilmore. None are impressive in height, but their open summits afford views of the surrounding area. Descend via the Maple Spring Trail.

Distance: 4 miles
Info: Discover Acadia National Park, 3rd ed. (AMC Books)

Caribou Mountain
Gilead, Maine
Tucked in the Maine portion of the White Mountain National Forest, Caribou Mountain is a relatively short (2,800 feet), bald summit, with views in all directions. Follow the Caribou Trail from its eastern terminus (on Bog Road in West Bethel, which is plowed to within at least 1 mile of the trailhead) to the Mud Brook Trail (2.5 miles). Turn left, and follow the Mud Brook Trail 0.6 mile to the summit of Caribou. At the summit, the Mahoosucs are visible to the north, Baldface and Carter ranges to the west, and the wide sweep of Maine to the east. The Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness Area surrounds the mountain. Return by the same route.

Distance: 6.2 miles
Info: Discover the White Mountains, 2nd ed. (AMC Books); White Mountain Guide Online

Mount Avalon
Crawford Notch, N.H.
AMC’s Highland Center is the set-off point for several snowshoe excursions. Nearby Mount Avalon offers a moderately challenging climb, and is the gateway to longer trips—to the summits of two 4,000-footers (Mount Tom and Mount Field) and, also, to Zealand Falls Hut. From the Crawford Depot off US 302, follow the Avalon Trail (bearing right at the signboard, where the Mount Willard Trail branches to the left). Gradual at first, the trail becomes steeper in the second mile. Just below the summit a short side trail climbs to a viewpoint. Nearby Mount Willard, also accessible from the depot, offers a less strenuous hike.

Distance: 3.6 miles out and back
Info: White Mountain Guide, 28th ed. (AMC Books); White Mountain Guide Online

Mount Israel
Center Sandwich, N.H.
Located on the southern end of the White Mountains, Mount Israel provides views of the northern peaks and southern lakes of New Hampshire. The full length of the Wentworth Trail runs from a parking area at the end of Diamond Ledge Road to the summit. The trail climbs 1,700 feet along the mountain’s south side. From here you’ll be able to look south over the lakes. The White Mountains, and in particular the Sandwich Range, come into view as the trail emerges on the summit.

Distance: 4.2 miles out and back
Info: Discover the White Mountains, 2nd ed. (AMC Books); White Mountain Guide Online

Mount Frissell
Salisbury, Conn.
Straddling the border on the western edge of Massachusetts and Connecticut, Mount Frissell (2,435 feet) is one of the Berkshires’ most remote peaks. From the parking area on Mount Washington Road, follow the Mount Frissell Trail over Round Mountain to the top of Mount Frissell. Though the peak is in Massachusetts, on the approach and descent you’ll cross over the highest point in Connecticut (2,380 feet). Farther west along the trail is a stone pillar marking the intersection of the Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York borders.

Distance: 3.4 miles out and back
Info: Best Day Hikes in Connecticut (AMC Books)

Harvey Mountain
Austerlitz, N.Y.
New York’s Harvey Mountain (2,065 feet) offers a unique vantage of the Taconic Plateau. Rather than the typical angles from the east or west, this view from the north reveals the full, longitudinal stretch of the range. Across East Hill Road from the parking area, follow the blue trail markers. A steep ascent is followed by a more gradual climb. Continue to follow the blue markers to the top. To the south you’ll see the Taconic Ridge, along which the Appalachian Trail passes.

Distance: 3 miles out and back
Info: Best Day Hikes in the Catskills & Hudson Valley (AMC Books)

Mount Tammany
Columbia, N.J.
Located at the southern end of the Kittatinny Ridge, Mount Tammany plummets dramatically into the Delaware Water Gap. The views from the top are spectacular, from the sweeping look at the Delaware River to the cliffs of Mount Minsi. From the Dunnfield parking area, follow the Appalachian Trail to the Holly Spring Trail (1.5 miles) and turn right. Turn right again at the green-blazed Dunnfield Hollow Trail (2 miles), which winds to the top of the mountain and the Indian Head scenic view. Return the way you came. The steep blue-blazed trail is not advisable in the winter.

Distance: 7 miles out and back
Info: Nature Walks in New Jersey, 2nd ed. (AMC Books)


Contributors: Emily Carbone, Jerry and Marcy Monkman, Mark Zakutansky

The Caribou Mountain description has been edited from its original form (December 2010).

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Marc Chalufour

Marc Chalufour, a former senior editor of AMC Outdoors, contributes to the trail-running blog Running Wild.