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Great Hikes: Speckled Mountain via the Cold Brook Trail Ledges

Open Ledges on Cold Brook Trail
Open Ledges on Cold Brook Trail

Speckled Mountain is a treeless summit in the Caribou-Speckled Wilderness, the newest and easternmost Wilderness Area in the White Mountain National Forest. The site of an old fire tower (the foundations are all that remain), it has wonderful views of the peaks in Evans Notch and southern Maine. You can even see Mt Washington on a clear day when George’s summit is not obscured by cloud.

Speckled is a fun peak to climb because there are many nice trails that you follow to the summit. The Cold Brook Trail may just be the best of these because it runs over open rock ledges with views that rival Speckled in their splendor.

The views from Speckled's summit are often fantastic. I've never had bad weather on this mountain
The views from Speckled’s summit are often fantastic. I’ve never had bad weather on this mountain.

I recently led a hike up the Cold Brook Ledges to Speckled when I was working at the AMC’s Cold River Camp as a hike leader. This is a week-long gig I do once a year at the volunteer-run Cold River Lodge at the foot of South Baldface in Evans Notch. Leading multi-generational trips at Cold River Camp is very different from the adult hikes I lead during the rest of the year and quite rewarding.

It had rained heavily the night before we hiked up the Cold Brook Trail, always a concern with less practiced hikers because it can make the ledges slippery. Climbing up the trail, which runs through the forest for the first few miles was no problem, but some of my participants were concerned about the descent. This proved to be easy, however, even though some water was still draining down the trail and everyone got down without a scratch.

Speckled Mountain by the Cold Brook Ledges PDF Map

The bottom of the Cold River Trail has been disturbed by recent logging activity, so it’s best to start this hike at a trail called The Evergreen Link, which joins the Cold Brook Trail higher up. The trailhead can be a little hard to find, though. Drive down Deer Hill Road, a gravel forest service road that leaves Rt 113 about 0.75 miles south of the Cold River Camp driveway (look for the big millstone) to the Evergreen Valley Inn. Park along the road near their driveway and look for a gravel covered forest road with a chain across it. From there, follow the instructions in the White Mountain Guide, passing several intersecting forest roads and camp driveways, before following the trail signs to the Speckled summit.

Total Distance: 9 miles with 2500 feet of elevation gain.

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  1. Phil – you are killing me with these great hikes! I’ve been on a few of them and they really are fantastic, but I can’t keep up with the sheer volume of hiking you do. You should write a guidebook!

  2. Phil, I always enjoy your posts. I am traveling up north and am bringing the dog. Would any of the Speckled Mountain hikes you have written about be too challenging for a dog?

  3. Skip starting at the Cold Brook Trailhead, the poor conditions caused by logging and poor trail markings can be bypassed by beginning at the Evergreen Valley Link Connector, parking near the Villas directly opposite the trail (44.2542409 -70.93334169). The Link Connector is marked in AMC maps and is nearly level until is merges with the Cold Brook Trail at 1200′ elevation. The Link Connector and the Cold Brook Trail are well maintained and as of 05/25/21 in excellent condition. Starting at Evergreen Valley it is 1:45 to the summit, 2246′ elevation gain, 3.9 miles (one way). I hiked this trail 10 times in the last two years and only encountered two other hikers (except for occasionally sharing the summit with hikers that came up from Blueberry Mountain). It is a great trail, with excellent views. It is comparable to Rumford Whitecap (but longer) or Kearsarge North (but with MUCH better trail conditions that Kearsarge North).

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