Saturday, May 13, 2017

Mt Anna; South & North Straightback Mountains

This was our second hike of the season and we decided to hike in the Belknap Range.  Monorails, which still exist in most locations above 3,000 feet in the White Mountains, are difficult to navigate so we are wimping out by hiking further South.

Stats for today's hike
Hike Distance:  5.9 miles
Elevation Gain:  1,750'
Duration:  4 hrs. 20 min.
Difficulty:  Easy to moderate
Driving Directions:  From Alton Mountain Road in Alton, NH drive 3.1 miles to the end of the road in a clearing (road turns to dirt just before it ends).  There are two clearings at the end of the road, one large and one smaller, providing plenty of parking space.  

Finding the trailhead is NOT easy.  I found the following extremely accurate directions on how to access the trailhead from the parking lot ( Without these in hand, we would never have found the Anna-Goat Trail!  For that reason I am repeating those directions below:

"Facing the parking area, turn left (west) and follow the wide dirt path (road) into the woods. You will see a sign for snowmobile route 22W (sign can only be seen after entering the woods). A gradual half mile descent brings you to a pond with a view of Straightback Mountain. At the end of the pond, the trail splits; follow the right fork. It then climbs onto a small hill, where a smaller path diverges to the right. Bear left and continue on the main snowmobile trail for 0.2 miles, ignoring any more branching paths, then turn right onto Anna-Goat Trail. Look for the wooden post and red trail markings."

After picking up the start of the Anna-Goat Trail we followed it directly to the summit of Mt Anna.  Though the trailhead itself was difficult to find, this trail and all the others we hiked today were very well blazed.  Some might even say over blazed.  Don't miss the short 200 yd. side trip to the Carbonneau Cave.  It is well marked and to my thinking worth the small diversion.

From the summit of Mt. Anna we used the Belknap Range Trail (blazed as BRT) to cross the ridge to the South Peak of Mount Straightback.  We continued on the BRT a short distance to the Quarry Spur Trail which would take us close to North Straightback (watch for this turn as it is easy to miss from this direction).  Once at the intersection of the Quarry Spur and Quarry Trails you must head northeast about 200 yards to reach the actual summit.  We then followed the Quarry Trail South to pick up the east segment of the Precipice Path for our return.

This hike was easy to moderate but, the Precipice Path pretty much goes straight down the mountain making it steep and challenging due to slipping on the sandy trail surface (often covered in leaves).

 Mother's Day was the day after our hike so I picked up this five burner stove for Sue.  Happy Mother's Day dear. 

Looks like a decent trailhead sign, right?

But, you'll notice that it is actually rather tiny!

 The cave is worth the diversion.   

 Really?  I can't fit in there!

These trail signs at the South Peak of Mount Straightback could use some touch up... 

There are not that many views on this hike.  This south facing view is towards Sunset Lake (largest) and two other small ponds.

 When heading NE on the BRT this turn could easily be missed so watch for it.

 The 'purple' blazing on the Precipice Path looks more like lavender to me.  I've never hiked on a lavender blazed trail before!


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