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Bondcliff, Mount Bond, and West Bond

The Bonds
The Bonds

Have you ever had a perfect day in the mountains? I had one of those days yesterday, on an epic 23 mile day hike to Bondcliff (4265′), Mount Bond (4698′), and West Bond (4540′). The weather was so fine, with bright sunshine and clear skies, and the views were simply spectacular.

This was hard hike with 4,800 feet of elevation gain, on top of the distance. I’ve got an even bigger hike coming up over the weekend, a Presidential Traverse with over 9,000 feet of elevation gain, and I wanted to gauge my level of conditioning. I haven’t been doing much backpacking yet this year and I wanted to see if I had a big hike in me.

My wife, bless her, didn’t flinch when I told her I was going to try to do this route in one day. Just in case, I worked up a complete trip plan factoring in an overnight, if needed, and carried a full pack in case I decided to stop part way for the night.  All of my previous trips to the Bonds have been backpacking trips because these peaks are about as remote as you can get in the Whites.

Lincoln Woods to West Bond
Lincoln Woods to West Bond

I didn’t sleep terribly well the night before this trip and got out of bed an hour earlier than planned to drive up to New Hampshire, arriving at the Lincoln Woods trail head at 6:00 am. Ten minutes later I was on my way.

Of the 23 miles in this out and back hike, the first 4.5 miles are relatively flat walk along an old railroad grade. I made excellent time, hiking this section at a 3 mph pace. If you want to walk fast, you have to try Pacer Poles. They easily add 0.5 miles to my pace per hour.

From there, I started climbing the Bondcliff Trail which is a far more rugged trail. Although I’ve hiked this route before, I didn’t remember a thing about this section from my previous hike in 2010, except the last stream to resupply my water before popping above treeline on Bondcliff Mountain. The trail was in pretty bad shape: Hurricane Irene clearly did a number on it, tearing out the foundation rocks underneath the treadway. It looked like flash flood damage.

Bondcliff Mountain
Bondcliff Mountain

Bondcliff Mountain was magnificent as always, towering over the Hellgate Brook watershed below. I’d made it up to the ridge (mile 9) in just 4 hours, so I stopped and had a bite to eat and drink. The bugs were viscous though and they soon drove me of the cliffs onward toward Mount Bond, one of the best view points in the entire White Mountains.

The climb up Mount Bond was hard. I was bonking and switched to Cliff Bars – complex carbohydrates – which helped boost my energy level quickly. From Bond, I hiked down and out to West Bond, my true goal for the day, and the last Bond that I need to hike for the Trailwrights 72 list.

West Bond is quite an easy hike – it’s the 6 hour hike getting there that’s hard since it’s really in the middle of nowhere. But oh, what a beautiful nowhere! From its summit I had a great view of Mount Garfield and all the peaks on Franconia Ridge, South Twin and its impressive slides, and and of course Bondcliff, shown above.

Franconia Ridge and Mount Garfield
Franconia Ridge and Mount Garfield
South Twin Mountain
South Twin Mountain

After another snack, I about faced and hiked back the way I came, back up Mount Bond, and back over BondCliff dropping back down to the East Pemigewasset River below. From there, I had a fast hike back to Lincoln Woods and a contented drive home.

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  1. Nice hike. Love when I hear about people hiking to my White Mtn. happy place….Bondcliff. I know just where you’re talking about concerning the Irene damage (havn’t seen it yet)…hope it doesn’t get much worse….that’s got to look pretty bad! Love the last brook crossing going up…great place to soak a sweaty head and drink some really cold water.

    Happy hiking!

  2. This looks like an amazing hike. The views look like the long, tiring miles would be well worth it.

  3. Nice pics! I went in early May and it the leaves weren’t quite out yet. So much better in the summer. Been there in the summer too. Might have to check it out in the fall and again in the winter. I think I will see the Bonds in my future at least 4-17 more times.

    Not sure how the hell you did this as a day trip with a round trip drive. That’s a seriously long day!

  4. Beautiful hike – the Bondcliff alone is spectacular. If you’re looking to avoid retracing your steps, the full Pemi loop from Lincoln Woods up Franconia Ridge and back along the Bonds runs about 31 miles (including jaunts up West Bond, Galehead, and Guyot). It’s a long hike, but it can be done in a day if you’re up for it, or two if you’re looking to make a weekend of it. There isn’t a better short loop hike in the northeast, though I also like the Grafton loop in ME due to its more remote (and less crowded) location.

    Congratulations on a seriously good hike!

  5. We just did this hike last week in the opposite direction starting at Zealand and out over the Bonds. We made it a 3 day trip, camping on night 1 off Ethan Pond Trail, staying night 2 at Guyot and then out on Day 3. We were able to catch a beautiful sunset from West Bond on the second night and sunrise the next morning from Bond. Truly breathtaking scenery and a wonderful trip.

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