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Hiking the Gordon Pond Trail

The Gordon Pond Trail starts off by following old logging roads through a remote part of the forest.
The Gordon Pond Trail starts off by following old logging roads through a remote part of the forest.

I put off hiking the Gordon Pond Trail as long as I could, dreading getting lost in the maze of old logging roads between North Woodstock and the Appalachian Trail. The Gordon Pond Trail has a reputation as being poorly marked, hard to follow, wet and muddy. Moose heaven, but challenging, even for very experienced hikers. I know a few people who’ve tried to hike this trail and gotten lost.

Once you get off the more heavily traveled trails in the White Mountains, finding and following the older, less known trails can be an adventure. I’ve learned the hard way to prepare for them much like I do my bushwhacks, carefully compiling route information from multiple sources, and bringing all of the tools in my navigational arsenal, including a GPS app on my phone. There’s nothing quite as frustrating as driving a few hours to hike a trail and not being able to find it…but it happens.

Moss on a Trail Sign
Moss on a Trail Sign

If you’re used to hiking well-signed and well-blazed trails, hiking in the White Mountains can be real shock. The only trails with an abundance of blazes are the Appalachian Trail and its blue-blazed side trails, and even then thru-hikers get lost. But the farther you get from the AT, the more sporadic the blazing becomes, to many trails where there’s barely any at all.

Despite its reputation, the Gordon Pond Trail proved easy to follow using the directions in the latest edition of the White Mountain Guide. The higher reaches of the trail also showed signs of fresh blue-blazes, since it is technically an off-ramp for the Appalachian Trail.

My friend and I hiked the trail from south to north because that’s the direction of the trail description in the White Mountain Guide. The trail follows old logging roads for most of the way, although they’re also well signed since snowmobilers obviously use them too.

Snowmobile route signs.
Snowmobile route signs.

One of my frustrations with the White Mountain maps is that you’ll never find one that has both the hiking trails and the snowmobiles maps drawn on it…that would be too useful….so I made a mental note to come back up here to hike and track them with my GPS at a future date.

This stream was running low because of this years drought, but I bet it will have good fishing when the water comes back
This stream was running low because of this years drought, but I bet it will have good fishing when the water comes back.

There are a couple of nice water features along the Gordon Pond Trail. The first is a very nice stream that probably holds a lot more water and lots of trout in a non-drought year. The other is a tremendous waterfall near the northern end of the trail, just south of the pond, which must drop 40-50 feet in height. The trail passes over the falls, but it looks like there’s a short bushwhack to their base in the surrounding wood. I could see hanging a hammock there for a night.

Mt Wolf (AT) and remote Gordon Pond
Mt Wolf (on the AT) and remote Gordon Pond

We had a quick lunch what we reached Gordon Pond and watched the fish rising to pick bugs off the surface. The fishing season had ended the day prior, so there was nothing I could do about this new-found knowledge except tuck it away for next year.

After lunch, we hopped onto the Appalachian Trail and then branched off about 0.5 miles before Rt 116 and came down the super steep Dilly Trail, adjacent to the Lost River tourist attraction. While coming down the Dilly Trail was strenuous, I just assume come down it rather than have to climb it. The trail is only open however, when Lost River is open, or so they say, so you have to time hiking this trail just right. I think we got it the last day of the season, until next year.

All in all a nice, vigorous hike with some attractive destinations en route.

Total distance: 8.2 miles with 2700′ of elevation gain.

Gordon Pond Trail Hike (Click for PDF)
Gordon Pond Trail Hike (Click for PDF)

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12 comments

  1. Good to know the current state of the GPT, as I still need to hike it for redlining. Also a minor correction, the name of the trail you descended is Dilly Trail, not Dilly Falls Trail (disclosure: I maintain the trail for the SPNHF).

    • FWIW, GPT is much easier to follow from the AT than it is trying to navigate the cluster by Govonis. And be very mindful of parking. They absolutely do tow. Don’t ask how I know.

      • It really wasn’t hard to follow south to north. I was quite surprised. I did refer to the photograph of the WMG page on my phone a few times, but purely out of caution.

      • I am doing a car spot at the GPT, coming from Reel Brook over Wolf and then out.

        I was planning on parking at the old restaurant. Is there a better place? Where should I not park?

        Any assistance would be helpful. Need both GPT and Reel Brook. Will come back and get last piece of Kinsman Ridge in a backpack from Mt. Kinsman Trail

      • You’ll get towed at the restaurant lot after 4pm. There are signs hidden in the trees to that effect. Suggest you park some place else along the side of the road farther downhill.

    • Sorry about that. Freudian slip. That trail is really steep coming down. Thanks for maintaining it. Gets very heavy use obviously judging by the number of people we saw climbing it.

  2. Which GPS app are you using and are you happy? I’ve been considering purchasing an app lately.

    • I use Gaia – love it. I mainly just use it as a map, downloading the area where I plan to hike, and as a tracker to publish my routes. It has lot of other functions of course, but those are the main ones I use. I have an iPhone.

  3. Great article, makes me want to visit. One little grammar error:

    You wrote: “While coming down the Dilly Trail was strenuous, I just assume come down it rather than have to climb it. ”

    What you should have wrote: “While coming down the Dilly Trail was strenuous, I’d just as soon come down it rather than have to climb it.

    I have spent a lifetime correcting my own errors (and having my errors corrected for me), caused by growing up with a great many people who were not exactly college professors. Though I am a professional, I still have trouble with my speaking (and writing like I speak), because I grew up very blue collar.

    • Instead of correcting my grammar error, I’ll highlight it: “What you should have wrote”. Duh. “What you should have written” is the correct way.

  4. Frederik Wijnen-Riems

    Downhill along 112?

    Thanks

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