I can’t imagine many of you are ever going to go find this trail, but I had two hours before work on a Saturday, this was close by, and it did show forth what we have on our trails here in mid fall!
Wheeler Brook goes from Route 2 in Gilead, Maine 3.5 miles down to Little Lary Brook Road off of Route 113 in Evans Notch. Huge hunting area for the fall so be absolutely sure to wear your blaze orange! Certainly you should be wearing it anywhere in the White Mountains you go right now, but in Evans Notch, it is NOT populated, and it is in the center of hunting culture so please be careful!
I hiked down from Route 2. The entire trail is on a maze of old fire roads and logging roads. I was worried about getting lost so had my compass handy and had a plan of how to get out of the woods on my own in case I did get turned around. This can be another fall hazard as thick leaf mat covers less used trails. Carry your map and compass and be familiar with the landscape you are going into. In this case I had several streams I could follow downhill and out. I also knew that with my compass I could hike north and I would hit Route 2 sooner or later!
It turned out the maze was not as difficult to negotiate as I expected and it was for the most part a pleasant woods walk up and over a height of land. The leaves were almost a foot thick over the trail…very rarely did I get to actually see my feet. This brought on another set of hazards. There weren’t many rocks in the trail but there were dips that were totally hidden and then there was the mud!!! It was almost comical! I never saw any mud…I only knew it was there when I felt my boot being sucked off. And then I wasn’t sure to step right or left because the entire mud patch was underneath the thick layer of leaves! As I lifted my foot I could see that the mud was almost to the edge of my boot so I was standing in some very thick gooey stuff I never saw!
The trail also turned out to be much much steeper than I expected. With no peak or view point, I guess I didn’t pay much attention to my contour lines on my map and I actually climbed a good 1500 feet in 1.5 miles. (All the time not able to see my feet!) Phew! I haven’t been out much in a month and I was certainly feeling it!
I came out on Little Lary Brook Road which is a fun logging road off of Route 113. For any of you who disperse camp, there are some very very nice dispersed camp sites off of Little Lary Brook Road!
There were some picturesque stream crossings on this hike and the height of land was pleasant so if any of you DO find yourself interested in exploring this, I would dust off the map and compass even more than our normal safety regulations require for responsible hiking and go to it!!! I saw moose scat, bear scat, and owl pellets. I heard many birds and spotted one wood pecker. The one thing you won’t find over here is hikers!
Mud and thick leaves are the name of the game for our lower trails like this. We’ve had unseasonably warm weather and rain. Several frosts have come through in the valley and we’ve had more on the summits. Rime ice has accumulated several times up high but has melted off. If heading for elevations I would bring Microspikes or comparable traction, whether you end up needing them or not! Check the last minute weather information and go with a good dose of not knowing what you are going to find!
The Wheeler Brook hike can be found on AMC Map #5 for the Carter Range/Evans Notch Area. You can find the description in the AMC White Mountain Guide. There are plenteous other great hikes in the Evans Notch area that are well well worth exploring and are much more rewarding than Wheeler Brook! Check out just about any of the peaks you will find on that map!
As always you can check AMC conditions for the latest report and/or call us here at Pinkham to see what we’re seeing out our windows and for the best trail advice we can give you!
We are available by phone at (603) 466-2721 every day from 6:30 AM to 10:00 PM or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To make reservations at AMC Lodges and Huts, please call (603) 466-2727 available Monday through Saturday 9am-5pm.
AMC Backcountry Information Specialist