I had never been to West Royce, much less the Wild River Wilderness, so when my friend JohninNH suggested a loop in that area, I agreed that it sounded like a good idea. JohninNH don’t get to hike together very often anymore, our families are busy and our schedules don’t always line up, so when we both had a free day, we went out for another adventure.
We drove up to the trailhead for the Burnt Mill Brook Trail, which was on the Wild River Rd., off Rt. 113 or Evans Notch Rd. This is up near Gorham, and we went in and out of Maine during the ride to the trailhead.
The Burnt Mill Brook Trail was pleasant and not too difficult in the first section. We were able to enjoy hiking near the brook for most of the way up to The junction with the Royce Trail. The second part of the trail steepened, but we knew that we’d have to hike up to the saddle ahead between East and West Royce at some point.
We got to the junction and took some photos. The area looked pretty rugged and wild and the damage from wind and/or ice to the trees added to the look. We headed up to West Royce, enjoying the rugged trail, spruce forest and moss. At West Royce, we picked up the Rim Trail and were able to cruise along through more mossy forest.
We stopped at an outlook close to the Rim junction – a junction for 4 trails, all headed different direction – for lunch. At lunch we saw a few ladies out enjoying the nice day, the first people we’d seen all day. We headed down to the junction, and out to another outlook before going back to the junction and heading into the Wild River Wilderness and down the Black Angel Trail. We checked out a former Blue Brook shelter site, which is now a tent site and then headed up on last hill before the hike down to the Wild River and the Wild River Trail.
Once at the height of land, the trail became wider and easier and we cruised for the rest of the hike. The Wild River Trail was very pleasant, with hiking right along the Wild River. We only found one washout out area of trail and then one section that was full of debris and water channels – neither was hard to negotiate, but showed us the power of a large volume of water.
We stopped to check out a bridge that was out of commission. It lead across the river to the Moriah Brook Trail, but until it can be repaired it is closed. While it looks good from above, the real damage is below, where the embankment is eroded away from the bridge supports. Not sure when that will get fixed, but JohninNH scouted out some possible places to ford the river when he comes back to the area.
We reached then Wild River campground, and the walked the road back to the car. It was one of nicer road walks I’ve done – gravel and not paved. A nice easy end to a fun day in an area of the Whites I’ve never been.
Special thank to JohninNH for an excellent day exploring the Wild River Wilderness!