Hedgehog Mountain (Albany) 2532'
4.8 Miles 1450' Elevation gain
Kevin, Judy and Emma
There are so many gems in the White Mountains under 4000' and this is one we said we'd like to return to in the snow. Just wanting to get out and be in the woods. Not looking to go over 4000' in the snow unless it's going to count as a winter hike, which it won't for three more weeks, so we found ourselves back here. This is a great loop hike that offers excellent and intimate views to Bear, Table and Big Attitash Mountains, The Moats, The Sisters and Mount Chocorua, Mount Paugus and looming larger than life, Mount Passaconaway. A real feel for Passaconaway's massive size can be felt from the ledges on tiny Hedgehog.
We did the loop clockwise and as we started out in our snowshoes we found the going rather difficult as previous hikers had bare-booted through the wet snow which was a frozen mess when we traversed it. This made for difficult stepping in the shoes, but we did our best to flatten out the trail and get a good track down. Later, towards the end of the hike we met folks who had come the same way around as us and I mentioned the trail was a mess from bare-booters. Although they now had their snowshoes on they confessed to having bare-booted the east side, but I told them the frozen footprints had been made before they had come along.
Much of the first two miles is spent in the shadow of the hill, so was a little cool until we broke out onto the east ledges where the bright sun shone down and was quite warming. Moments like those spent in the warm sun standing in snow, high above the forests and surrounded by mountains while enjoying some lunch and the company of my wife and dog make the hard work and cold fingers all worthwhile. The feelings of peace, to be able to enjoy these things with no intrusions, are hard to share in words, but if you've experienced it, you know what I mean and I don't have to fumble through the words to try to explain it.
From these ledges we could look out across the Oliverian Brook Valley that separates this hill from Chocorua, Paugus and Passaconaway. Over the ridge and far to the south we could see the summit of Mount Shaw in the Ossipees where we had journeyed two weeks ago. Gazing to the southwest it is hard to get over just how huge Mount Passaconaway is. It's steep slopes seem insurmountable from this vantage and we realize that there is much untouched territory on this northeast face.
As we finished up lunch we made our way along the trail in a westerly direction that soon brought views of the Tripyramids and the higher ledges of the summit of Hedgehog. The trail winds along and descends down into a field of glacial erratics before beginning to climb again and wrapping itself around to the west side of the mountain. From here it's a nice little climb up to the summit ledges where more views of Passaconaway, the Tripyramids and the nearby Potash Mountain, sister of Hedgehog, also a great, less visited, destination.
Between us and the Tripyramids lies The Fool Killer, perhaps the best named mountain in the Whites. Over the right shoulder of The Fool Killer we can make out Mount Kancamagus and the Osceolas, their snow covered slopes shining brightly in the sun. From a point just west of the trail near the summit we can see into Carrigain Notch. Massive Mount Carrigain rises above the Sawyer River Valley with the Hancocks and The Captain flanking to the west and Vose Spur and Carrigain Notch flanking to the east. Rising from the notch is Mount Lowell, Mount Nancy and Mount Bemis. Impressive Green's Cliff lies before them on an otherwise unnamed hill. Further to the east, almost directly north of where we stand lies Mount Tremont and Owl's Cliff. Very impressive. Major views from this minor mountain.