The weather was perfect today for my ascent of Mount Passaconaway (4,043 ft) in the Sandwich Range of the White Mountains, with morning temperatures in the low 40’s, climbing to the low 70’s by late afternoon, under mostly sunny skies.
This was the 46th 4,000 footer I’ve climbed on the White Mountain 4,000 footer list. Two more to go and I’ll be done. I’m thinking about doing the Trailwrights 72 next, which is much harder.
I started my hike at the Oliverian Brook Trail parking lot off the Kancamagus Highway and followed that trail up to the Passaconaway Cuttoff. The stealth camping along the Oliverian Brook Trail is fantastic, and I’m going to have to get back here sometime. I’m surprised the rangers don’t bust the people who camp right next to the brook, which is against the forest rules, but there are plenty of legal sites 200 feet away in the surrounding woods.
A 30 degree grade
The first 2 miles of trail up the Oliverian are easy hiking, but the trail gets a lot steeper on the Cutoff and Square Ledge trails, climbing about 2,200 feet in 3 miles. On the way down, I took a clinometer reading and found that the slope up to the summit is 30 degrees.
Views from the top were magnificent today. The Sandwich Range has really grown on me this year.
Mounts Paugus and Chocorua (rear)
At the top, I hung out for while in the sun with some other hikers, before looping around the summit and heading east along the Square Ledge trail. But before I did that, I took a 1/2 mile detour down Dicey Mills Trail to the Rollins Trail, and back.
Back to the Square Ledge Trail, I hiked 2.5 miles east past Square Ledge, which is a huge cliff, descending very steeping to the Square Ledge Branch Trail and the Oliverian Brook Trail and north to my car.
If you want to really challenge yourself, hike the Square Ledge Trail up to Passaconnaway. It is psycho-vertical.
Total hike distance was 12.5 miles in 8 hours with about 2,500 ft of ascent.