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Great Hikes: Speckled Mountain and the Blueberry Ridge Trail

View of Mt Washington from the Speckled Mountain Summit
View of Mt Washington, the Carter Range, and the Royces from the Speckled Mountain Summit

Speckled Mountain (2906′) is the site of an old firetower in Evans Notch, just inside the Caribou-Speckled Wilderness Area in the White Mountain National Forest. Hiked together with the above-treeline Blueberry Ridge Trail, they provide unsurpassed views of Mt Washington, the East and West Royce Mountains, and the Baldfaces, from a perspective few White Mountain hikers have ever experienced.

Caribou Speckled Wilderness Boundary
Caribou Speckled Wilderness Boundary

While there are several picturesque trails that climb Speckled Mountain, the shortest is the Spruce Hill Trail, a moderate hike through the Caribou Speckled Wilderness, the newest wilderness area in the White Mountain National Forest. Encompassing Speckled Mountain and nearby Caribou Mountain, this wilderness area is a 12,000-acre parcel of glacial-carved notches and forest-draped peaks.

Herd path to the summit of Spruce Hill. Please don't trample the white moss.
Herd path to the summit of Spruce Hill. Please don’t trample the white moss.

Hiking up the Spruce Hill trail, it’s possible to get a glimpse of the Speckled Mountain summit from a side trail to Spruce Hill’s tiny summit (2510′). Watch out for a herd path on your left that opens to a small ledge covered by white moss. Be careful when walking over the rock here because it’s very slippery and easy to  fall.

Birch and Hobblebush Glades on Speckled Mountain
Birch and Hobblebush Glades on Speckled Mountain

Continuing along the Spruce Brook Trail, it soon comes to a junction with the Bickford Brook Trail  (passing another junction to the Blueberry Ridge Trail) which continues to Speckled’s summit, passing open birch glades in the forest and an open meadow full of berry bushes. Note that none of the trail signs in the wilderness area have mileages listed on them to promote a wilder experience.

Foundations of the former Speckled Mountain fire tower
Foundations of the former Speckled Mountain fire tower

Arriving at the summit of Speckled, you’ll see the old foundations of the fire tower that was removed in 1986. With great views in all directions, the top of Speckled Mountain is often windy and cool although its possible to shelter among the summit rocks.

Views from the open ledges from the Blueberry Brook Trail
Views from the open ledges from the Blueberry Brook Trail

While the views from Speckled Mountain are grand on a clear day, they get even better as you descend the Blueberry Ridge Trail, which begins about 0.5 miles below Speckled’s summit. Marked by cairns, the trail travels over two miles, mostly in the open, along Speckled’s southern spur.

View of North and South Baldface Mountains from the Blueberry Ridge Trail
View of North and South Baldface Mountains from the Blueberry Ridge Trail

Optional Extensions

Once you arrive at Blueberry Mountain, you can continue following the Blueberry Ridge Trail to the Bickford Brook Trail and Brickett Place, a historic museum (w/ trail head parking) in Evans Notch, passing a waterfalls and a scenic gorge. Another option, particularly good in hot weather, is to descend via the Stone House Trail to an ice code swimming hold called Rattlesnake Pool (there are no snakes).

Rattlesnake Pool - an ice cold swimming hole popular in summer months
Rattlesnake Pool – an ice cold swimming hole popular in summer months

Parking is available at the base of the Stone House Trail along Stone House Road and a good place to drop a car at the end of the hike.

Speckled Mountain and the Blueberry Ridge Trail - Click for Interactive map on Caltopo.com
Speckled Mountain and the Blueberry Ridge Trail – Click for Interactive map on Caltopo.com

Normally a day hike, a climb up Speckled Mountain and down the Blueberry Ridge Trail can be easily incorporated into a multi-day backpacking loops that visits other scenic spots in Evans Notch such as Basin Pond, and West and East Royce Mountains. (see Royce Speckled Mountain Loop Backpack)

Mileage for the trails and destinations mentioned in this article:

  • Spruce Hill Trail to Bickford Brook Trail Junction (1.9 mils)
  • Bickford Brook Trail to Speckled Mountain (1.2 miles)
  • Speckled Mountain to Blueberry Ridge Trail Junction (0.5 miles)
  • Blueberry Trail to Blueberry Mountain (2.2 miles)
  • Blueberry Mountain to Brickett Place by Blueberry Ridge and Bickford Brook Trails (1.4 miles)
  • Blueberry Mountain to Rattlesnake Pool via the The Stone House Trail (1 mile)

For more details, see the White Mountain Guide

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2 comments

  1. Evans Notch and its peaks are simple spectacular in a way that is different than the rest of the White Mountains. Far less crowded and quiet. You can hear the wind blow instead of motorcycle mufflers in summer.

  2. I love it up there Walt. The other hikers up there know just how special it is.

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