Jennings Peak (3440′) is a 52-with-a-View mountain in Waterville Valley at the top of Acteon Ridge. It has a great view of massive Sandwich Dome Mountain (shown above) which at 3993′ is just seven feet shy of being a 4000 footer.
I climbed in on a frosty day with four other hikers from the Random Group of Hikers, a 5000+ person Meetup Group, on a trip organized by my friend John Lagasse, who I hadn’t seen in a few years. We climbed Jennings by doing a loop hike, climbing the Sandwich Mountain Trail to the Jennings Spur Path and then descending on the Drakes Brook Trail.
The trail was packed out most of the way up, so we only needed microspikes for the climb. We carried snowshoes anyway, a prudent call since you never know what trail conditions will be like on some of the lesser climbing winter peaks. Anything that’s not a 4000 footer in the Whites is a lesser-climbed peak.
But the Sandwich Mountain Trail was unrelentingly steep. It started with a bridged (snow-bridge that is) crossing over Drakes Brook and then climbed 2000′ almost non-stop. It levels off shortly before the spur path to Jennings Peak, which winds through krumholz to several nice viewpoints.
The last time I climbed Jennings was in 2010 and I’d pretty much forgotten everything about the route, so it felt like I was hiking it for the first time. The last time the summits had been in and out of the fog, so I was hoping for better views this time. In addition to Sandwich Dome, I wanted to catch a glimpse of Sachem Peak, a small mountain below Jennings that I bushwhacked a few years ago. The view of the Sachem Peak cliff-face and summit was spectacular from Jennings.
When we started this hike the temperature at the trailhead had been 0 degrees and it didn’t go up much from there. So after summiting Jennings, we hiked back down via the Drakes Brook Trail which terminates at the same trailhead where we started.
We’d had a great hike, I saw some old friends – John and William, and met some new ones – Brian and Gail. Not a bad way to spend 5.5 hours on a winter day.
Approximate distance: 6 miles with 2000′ of elevation gain.