Trails Less Traveled: Smarts Brook, The Link, Castle

While Summerset continues her journey north, I spent a couple of days soloing on some trails less traveled…

Smarts Brook Trail

This hike up to Sandwich Dome is a pleasant ramble once you clear the logging road near the trailhead. The logging road is a bit of a drag — wide, flat, and packed. But once you cross over the Sandwich Wilderness boundary, the trail narrows to more standard White Mountain fare and runs up mostly easy grades to Sandwich Mountain Trail not too far from the summit.

The actual Smarts Brook trailhead is just before the parking area. There are several XC ski trails also accessible here, so it can get a little confusing until you see the sign at the far end of the lot.

The actual Smarts Brook trailhead is just before the parking area. There are several XC ski trails also accessible here, so it can get a little confusing until you see the sign at the far end of the lot.

Logging road in the early part of Smarts Brook Trail.

Logging road in the early part of Smarts Brook Trail.

A nice little pond before the wilderness boundary. I upset a duck who flew away quacking in the early morning light.

A nice little pond before the wilderness boundary. I upset a duck who flew away quacking in the early morning light.

Lovely roots that made stairs.

Lovely roots that made stairs.

Many large boulders along the trail, a few absolutely huge. Most were moss covered.

Many large boulders along the trail, a few absolutely huge. Most were moss covered.

A pleasantly noisy little cascade dropping into a small pool. I could hear the cascade and water splashing against a hollow formed by boulders from the trail. I went over to investigate.

A pleasantly noisy little cascade dropping into a small pool. I could hear the cascade and water splashing against a hollow formed by boulders from the trail. I went over to investigate.

The view from Sandwich Dome summit looking towards Mt. Tecumseh. Not a panoramic view, and a bit obstructed by trees. Still a personal favorite spot.

The view from Sandwich Dome summit looking towards Mt. Tecumseh. Not a panoramic view, and a bit obstructed by trees. Still a personal favorite spot.

The Link

I hiked the 1.6 mile section of The Link between Caps Ridge and Castle. Rough trail. I messaged Summerset and described it as a jumble of boulders held together by tree roots and the dung of wood elves. Even though there was little elevation change, this took quite a bit of time to negotiate. It was sort of fun, but tricky footing, including a chimney or two with no easy way over.

Cascade along The Link.

Cascade along The Link.

Managed to bash my knee climbing over a boulder. Only a minor scrape, but it made a mess for a while.

Managed to bash my knee climbing over a boulder. Only a minor scrape, but it made a mess for a while.

Looking in the valley west from a cascade along The Link.

Looking in the valley west from a cascade along The Link.

Typical trail for this section. Roots, rocks, and no obvious footbed. Whee!

Typical trail for this section. Roots, rocks, and no obvious footbed. Whee!

Castle

I hiked the 1.5 mile section of Castle Trail between The Link & Mt. Jefferson summit. This was an absolute blast. Climbing over the series of castles meant stashing my poles and grabbing fistfuls of rock to climb over various sections. Lots of fun, although pretty steep.

Butterfly posed for me along Castle Trail.

Butterfly posed for me along Castle Trail.

Looking up to the first Castle.

Looking up to the first Castle.

Looking back at the Castles. Above this section (behind me, you can't see in the picture) is the open rock scramble marked by quartz-topped cairns up to Jefferson.

Looking back at the Castles. Above this section (behind me, you can’t see in the picture) is the open rock scramble marked by quartz-topped cairns up to Jefferson.

A look over to the Castles from Caps Ridge Trail.

A look over to the Castles from Caps Ridge Trail.

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