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Mt Resolution and the South Knob

South Knob of Mt Resolution (lower right ledge)
South Knob of Mt Resolution (middle right ledge)

Mt Resolution (3415′) is an open summit at the south end of the Montablan Range, just off the Davis Path, one of the main thoroughfares to Mt Isolation. There are several different ways to approach the peak: from the south on the Mt Parker Trail, from the west over Mt Crawford on the Davis Path, and from the east up the Rocky Branch and Stairs Col trails.

This was my third attempt at climbing Resolution within the past year. Late last November, I was turned back by icy ledges below the summit and again, just a few weeks ago (May), by deep snow. I hoped this last attempt would bring home the bacon. It did and more.

Now that most of the forest roads that are closed in winter are open again, I was able to approach the peak from the Rocky Branch Trail driving up Jericho Road to the trailhead. This is probably the shortest and easiest route to the summit, but it’s only open in summer and autumn. I got an early start, hitting the trail by 7:30 am for a 10 mile hike, so I’d be back in time for a meeting later in the afternoon.

Crossing the Rocky Branch River at the beginning of the hike
Crossing the Rocky Branch River at the beginning of the hike.

The trail was wet and buggy. Really buggy. I got out my head net and a pair of gloves and hiked covered up for the rest of the day. I almost always wear a long sleeve shirt and long pants because I hate getting bit and hate wearing bug dope.

The Rocky Branch Trail is pretty flat, so I flew up it, and then started climbing the Stairs Col trail which begins close to the Rocky Branch shelter and tent platforms. The Stairs Col trail starts out with a gradual climb, but gets much steeper as you approach the col and the Davis Trail junction. The recent rain had swollen the brook which runs besides the trail and it was tempting to bushwhack over to it to watch the falls.

I reached the col – the local term for a saddle or mountain pass, and immediately felt a cool breeze blowing in from northwest. I layered up with a rain jacket to stay warm and because I knew I’d be hiking a less used trail with lots of overhanging wet shrubbery.

I hiked up the Davis Path to the Mt Resolution Trail junction, crossed the open ledge, and spied two rocky outcrops in the distance (top photo). I think they’re Mt Parker and a knob that some call South Resolution. I’d just heard about the latter the night before from my friends Jim and Ken, and decided I’d check it out first, before doubling back to Resolution and hiking out again.

I hiked past the Resolution summit and past its open ledges, before I started looking for the unmarked spur trail that leads to the knob. Jim has sent me a waypoint for the trail junction the night before, so I knew where to look for it along the trail. I passed an open ledge where I had lunch a few weeks previous, that I refer to as lunch rock, and found the spur trail a bit farther along from that. It was a short, wet hike to the ledges on the South Knob (the directions are printed in the White Mountain Guide.)

South Knob Ledges with Mt Willey in the background
South Knob Ledges with Mt Willey in the background

Fantastic views. I could see Arethusa Falls, Mt Willey, Mt Washington, Boot, Spur, Mt Isolation and many others from the same vantage point. You just don’t get those combinations or variety of viewpoints many other places in the Whites. I have to come back here. Bet it’s a great place to watch a meteor shower.

I turned around and hiked back to Resolution, following the herd paths to the summit. Reaching the summit cairn was a little anti-climatic after the views on the South Knob. Still, it’s another New Hampshire 3000 footer in the can: another list I hope to resume soon.

From Resolution, I hiked back the way I’d come, down Davis, down the Stairs Col Trail, and out Rocky Branch again. I’d been feeling a bit low in the morning, but my mood had lifted again, which it always does after a hike and a new discovery. That’s one of the reasons I like to hike.

Total distance: 10 miles, ~2500 ft of elevation gain.

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One comment

  1. Nice write up of a great location! So many gems in there, you hit a few of the great ones. Stairs has some of the best views of the Whites. Lots of RR history to visit along the rivers and brooks. It is unusually rather low for #’s of people except three day weekends. It is a fav of boy scout troops (my first WMNF hike as a kid!) The Mt. Parker and Mt. Stanton Trails are worth checking out as well, rarely used and can be hard to follow at times (esp. Parker).

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