Peakbagging The Owl, #41, Owl’s Head 6.28.11

With another free day to solo hike, I looked at my remaining list and chose Owl’s Head.  I knew I’d have to face it sooner or later, so today was the day.  This really isn’t a hard hike, except for two things:  the length of 18 miles round trip and the Owl’s Head slide.   The challenge for this hike was to mentally stay in the game to get the job done.

So, at 5:00a, I found myself in the car, driving up to the Lincoln Woods parking lot.  After getting there and getting ready, I head toward the suspension bridge at 6:00a and started walking.   I walked, and walked, and walked some more.  Really, it is a long way to Owl’s Head and to be honest, it is pretty flat and pretty much all looks the same, until you cross the bridge and pick up the Franconia Brook Trail.

Looking toward the bridge to cross before the junction of the Franconia Brook and Wilderness Trails.

Just over the bridge at the junction of the Franconia Brook and Wilderness Trails.

The Franconia Brook Trail has the neat addition of mud pits to add the hiking variety until the junction of Franconia Brook and Lincoln Brook Trails.  Taking the Lincoln Brook trail, there are more mud pits and interesting brook crossings.  Thankfully the water levels were pretty low today.  For the most part, if you were careful, you could rock hop across.  Only the crossing of the Lincoln Brook required getting the feet wet.

Franconia Brook and Lincoln Brook trail junction.

One of the larger brook crossings, not too high today.

Still hiking along, I eventually came to the Owl’s Head Path.  As of today, there are still a few small cairns, a couple of skinny tree trunks and a carved arrow to point one in the right direction.

Entrance to the Owl’s Head Path, pretty well marked.

I was only in the woods for a little bit, and then I was on the lower portion of the Owl’s Head slide.  The lower portion has a lot of gravel and loose smaller rocks, after climbing up this it gets a little better and a bit more ledgy.

Near the bottom of the slide. All these rocks are loose and care is required not to send off a mini-avalanche of rocks.

Looking back down a portion of the slide.

Once in the woods, the Owl’s Head Path looks pretty much like a normal trail, with no markings or true maintenance.  There are many blowdowns, none that actually need a detour, just stepping over like many other hikers have done.  The trail is not only steep on the slide, but is steep in the woods, too.  I will say that it seemed like much further than a mile.  About the time I started to wonder how much further the trail would go, the grade leveled out and I was at the old summit.

Some of the Owl’s Head Path near the summit area, pretty easy to follow even though unmaintained.

Old summit clearing, sign is high in tree near the center of the photo.

The old summit does not have a cairn anymore, but does have a small sign with directions to the summit.  The path to take is pretty obvious and in a very short time after negotiating more blowdowns, the summit clearing appears.  There is a cairn on one side and a small sign on a tree on the other.   I got there at 10:30a, took my pictures and enjoyed my summit chocolate.  Actually this hike got two chocolates:  one at the summit and one at the car.  It was a long hike, what can I say?

Summit cairn at Owl’s Head summit.

Summit sign on tree opposite of the cairn.

Now for the very long hike out!  Getting back the slide was fairly easy, but going down the slide took time and care.  I chose to stop about half way down and eat lunch.  There is a nice ledge with a great view of the entire east side of the Franconia Ridge, so I sat there, enjoyed the sunshine and ate lunch.  It was there that I saw the first hiker of the day, a guy doing a solo hike.

Slide ledge where I ate lunch.

Panoramic photo of the east side of the Franconia Ridge – my view during lunch.

After lunch, I carefully picked my way down the remainder of the slide and back toward the Lincoln Brook trail.  Once I got there, it was time to get back to the car!  I got back to the car at 2:40p.  Whew.  While I knew this was going to be a long hike, and there were certainly parts that were less than exciting, I will have to say that my view at lunch was one of the best I’ve had in a while!  Glad to have another one done and only 7 more to go!


2 thoughts on “Peakbagging The Owl, #41, Owl’s Head 6.28.11

  1. Absolutely wonderful report , and a huge CONGRATULATIONS to you for conquering Owl’s Head! Your narrative and your photos took me right along with you on your trek, and conjured up many fond memories of my trek to Owl’s Head.


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