Yes, another trip to Tecumseh, but this time since the forest roads opened a bit early, I decided to try the Mt. Tecumseh Trail from Tripoli Road to the summit. The Mt. Tecumseh Trail actually traverses the whole mountain, but most people only hike to the summit and back and usually by the portion of trail located on the side of the mountain with the Waterville Valley ski area. The round trip from Tripoli Road is a bit longer than taking the standard route up from the ski area, at 6.2 miles vs. 5 miles, but I think it is a bit less difficult.
The trail head itself is located at a small parking lot on Tripoli Road, about 5.7 miles from exit 31 of I-93. The lot isn’t well marked, so keep an eye on the odometer. There is a sign, but it faces the road, not the driver, so it is easy to drive past. Once in the parking lot, the trail enters the woods just to the right of the sign.
The trail quickly crosses Eastman Brook, twice. From the three guidebooks that I have, it seems like there should be only one crossing, but there are two smaller ones. One does look like a blow out of some kind, probably from Irene, as there is a lot of rocks and sandy mineral deposits around the second one. Both were easily crossed on rocks and logs.
The trail then heads up a logging road, along the ridge at a moderate to easy grades, through an open forest, which looks like it might have been logged at one time (like a lot of the forests in the Whites!). It was in this section and up higher that I saw signs of moose, but never actually saw one.
At about 1.3 miles, the trail takes a left turn, marked by a cairn and then starts up through a mostly coniferous forest. The growth here is thicker, with plenty of moss on the rocks.
The trail is a bit flatter through this area, and then starts the climb with rockier footing up to the top of the first of three little knobs. At the first knob, there is a side trail to a nice lookout. Unfortunately, I was in the clouds, so I had no view of what was supposedly Moosilauke and the Kinsmans.
The trail then goes over the other two knobs, barely bumps in the trail and then starts a descent into the col between the West Ridge and summit cone of Tecumseh. Once in the col, the trail levels out for a bit and then starts the last bit of ascending up to the summit of Tecumseh. I arrived at the summit more quickly than I thought, and was able to get a quick peek of the Tripyramids before they disappeared into the clouds.
For the return trip, picking the right trail from the summit is important to getting back to the car on the correct side of the mountain. When facing the nice new trail sign at the summit, the Mt. Tecumseh Trail to Tripoli Road is the trail in the middle, just to the right of the sign. I left my poles on the correct trail, so that I made sure I went down the right trail. Even though I’ve been to Tecumseh numerous times, I’d rather not have to hike back up to the summit after figuring out my mistake! The return trip went quickly, even though there was a bit of a climb back up to the West Ridge. Quickly enough, I was back at the car. I saw no one all day, not surprising mid-week and on a less popular trail.
I really enjoyed hiking the other side of Tecumseh. It was a good change of pace to hike to somewhere familiar, yet by a different way.