The maze of trails and forest roads that run through the forest near Sawyer Pond can be a overwhelming even to an experienced navigator. I know, I’ve gotten turned around in there several times when I tried to find my way with just a map and compass.
How’s that possible? There are a lot of ski trail, snowmobile trails and old logging roads that pass through this area that aren’t on hiking or topo maps making it hard to figure out where you are. If you’re looking for a good place to practice using a GPS device or a GPS Smartphone App like, Gaia, this is the place.
In fact, the last time I tried to hike the Brunel Trail up to Mt Tremont, I couldn’t find it and gave up looking. I’ve since bought an iPhone, which makes it easy to use the Gaia app for GPS navigation. I also installed a new release of Guthook’s New England Hiker App, which includes GPS routes for several regions of the White Mountain Trail System. I was determined to find the Brunel Trail this time and figured this would also be a good test of Guthook’s app as well.
I hiked in on the Sawyer Pond Trail from the Kanacamagus Highway (Rt 112) which requires a river ford as soon as you leave the trailhead parking lot. There’s no way to avoid getting your feet wet on this one, which probably explains why this approach to Mt Tremont is less hiked than the northern route up the Mt Tremont Trail which leaves from Rt 302.
Once across, I headed north, logging waypoints to the trails and roads that intersected my route but are not on my hiking map. There’s a side trail off the Sawyer Pond Trail that leads to a dirt road which you follow for a ways. I’d hiked it the last time I was here, but must have missed the Brunel Trail junction the last time or not gone far enough to see the sign. It’s hard to know.
The Brunel Trail intersects more obscure side trails and logging roads as it climbs, becoming harder to follow as it gains elevation, before reaching a side trail that leads to a great viewpoint on Owl’s Cliff. I sat down here, had a snack, and admired the view of Green’s Cliff and Sawyer Pond below. My friend Chris and I bushwhacked Green’s Cliff last year, which has a great reciprocal view of Owl’s Cliff, shown below.
From Owl’s Cliff, it was a short hike over the Owl’s “head” and up to the summit of Mt Tremont, which is one of the nicest viewpoints in the Whites, well deserving of being on the 52 With a View List.
Being alone, I hiked back out the way I’d come, only to discover this past week that there is a NH 200 Highest canister on Owl’s Cliff that I missed. Twist my arm, I’m going to have to go back and bag that peak again!
Total distance 7.8 miles with 2000′ of elevation gain.