Mt Bemis is a 3725′ mountain located in the White Mountain’s Crawford Notch, named for Dr Samuel Bemis, who built the stone house at its base which is now the popular Notchland B&B. Bemis was an interesting character: a denture maker turned landscape photographer, he loaned money to the Crawford Family, whose Inn made Crawford Notch famous. Check out the Bemi’s bio on WhiteMountainHistory.org for more details about this interesting fellow or visit Notchland, where more information about his life and many innovations can be seen.
I’ve wanted to hike Mt Bemis for some time since it’s on the NHHH (New Hampshire Hundred Highest) list. The site of an old fire observation tower, there are also the remains of an abandoned fire warden’s trail to the tower site, a short distance from the trail-less summit.
When planning this hike, I thought it would be more of a bushwhack than it actually was. Once you find the start of the old, unmaintained trail, just after the first major crossing of Nancy Brook, it’s easy to follow from 1800′ to about 2900′. As you climb, the trail gets more and more congested with blowdowns and spruce, but you can still follow it all the way to the summit if you keep your wits about you and can follow an overgrown trail.
Unfortunately, we fell off the abandoned trail and ended up following a herd path into adjacent spruce. No big deal, we followed a compass bearing for a while and bashed our way through the trees until we came to a clearing at about 3000 feet, where we found the trail again. From there it was an easy hike to the fire tower, with a few scrambles around blowdowns along the way. Not much of a challenge really, except we got soaking wet on a cold and foggy day.
When you reach the firetower, you will need to do some bushwhacking to find the herd path (which is very faint) to the actual summit. There is an old glass canister at the summit with a logbook, which we all signed.
I took the lead on the hike back down Bemis and managed to follow the old trail all the way back to Nancy Brook. Reports that it’s congested with blowdowns are exaggerated. It’s pretty easy to follow and we flew down the peak at a very fast pace. Being cold and wet, I was motivated to move fast and get back to my warm car.
Still, this was a nice hike with good friends on a Sunday afternoon. While it wasn’t quite the exercise in logic and navigation I enjoy on my off-trail hikes, it was still a great workout with nearly 3000′ of elevation gain and 7 miles of round trip hiking.
Recommended Guidebooks and Maps:
- Appalachian Mountain Club White Mountain Guide, 31st ed.
- AMC White Mountain National Forest Map Set
- White Mountains Map: New Hampshire and Maine
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