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Mt Katherine and the Southern Ferncroft Trails

Million dollar view of Mt Chocorua from summit ledge of Mt Katherine
Million dollar view of Mt Chocorua from summit ledge of Mt Katherine

Mt Katherine (1380′) is a small peak located south of the Ferncroft Trailhead near the 4000-footer, Mt Whiteface. It’s ringed by a small trail system maintained by the Wonalancet Out Door Club (spelled just like that), on the southernmost border of the White Mountain National Forest. With views of Mt Chocorua, Paugus, Passaconaway, and Whiteface, Mt Katherine provides a unique vantage point to view these Sandwich Range peaks and their rocky visages.

Bee hives along the Red Path
Bee hives along the Red Path

Named after Katherine Sleeper, founder of the Wonalancet Out Door Club, and the same namesake of the nearby Sleeper Mountains, Mt Katherine had 360 degree views in 1909, but the trees around the summit have since grown back and obstruct the views south across Squam Lake. Notwithstanding, the trails surrounding Katherine make for pleasant and moderate hiking with their own charms.

Tilton Spring at the junction of the Red Path, Pasture Path, and Tilton Spring Path
Tilton Spring at the junction of the Red Path, Pasture Path, and Tilton Spring Path

The best place to start is the Red Path which leaves Ferncroft Rd besides the white Wonalancet Church, just off Rt 113 (not next to the Ferncroft Kiosk). The Red Path follows a dirt road next to a lovely wild pasture, perhaps a field from the Sleeper’s original Wonalancet Farm. The Red Path enters a stand of forest and then passes a private residence, which has multiple Buddha statues in its garden. There it passes through a hedgerow running in front of the house (unmarked) before climbing through forest to the Tilton Spring and its stone cistern.

The Southern Ferncroft Trails are blue-blazed and easy to follow.
The Southern Ferncroft Trails are blue-blazed and easy to follow.

Three paths meet at the Tilton Spring: the Red Path, the Pasture Path, and the Tilton Spring Path (see the AMC Map Set for full details). To reach Mt Katherine, head south (left) along the Pasture Path. This is a nice out and back. When you return, it’s best to head up the Tilton Path which climbs gently through open forest until it reaches the McCrillis Path, recently reopened after a landowner dispute. Turning right (north) at the junction will bring you back to the Blueberry Ledge Trail and Ferncroft, while heading left will take you down to Whiteface Intervale, 1.6 miles away. From the Blueberry Ridge Trail, you can double back to Tilton Spring on the Pasture Path or continue back down Ferncroft Rd to the beginning of the Red Path.

Total Mileage: 4.6 miles. Difficulty: Easy to Moderate.

Mt Katherine and the South Ferncroft Trails (click for interactive map on Caltopo)
Mt Katherine and the South Ferncroft Trails (click for interactive map on Caltopo)

Note: This southern area of the White Mountain National Forest is omitted from many physical maps of the region. Your best bet for waterproof maps that include it is the AMC White Mountain Forest Map Set. 


3 comments

  1. This looks like a great hike for kids and slow parents!

    I really appreciate the fact that you write about these easier and more scenic trails in the White Mountain Guide. Your blog is a great resource.

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