York Pond Trail - Bunnell Notch Trail - Kilkenny Ridge Trail - Unknown Pond Trail
Distance: 10.3 mi.
Elevation Gain: 2,438 ft. (overall) 2,806 ft. (total)
Time: 3:30 (Mt. Cabot) 4:08 (The Bulge) 4:48 (The Horn) 7:19 (total)
The trail starts off very easy following old logging roads. It is well marked where you need to turn when the roads split or when the trail finally leaves the roads. When it leaves the roads it heads gradually up the notch that the brook is coming down. There are a couple log bridges on the trail, but this section isn't too wet. You stay to the right of the brook the entire time and are right next to is most of the time as well. This makes for some nice bacground noise as you hike. As you near the top of the notch the brook gradually becomes just a trickle and you quickly come into the softwood forrest. Here the snow hadn't melted much and there was a noticeable drop in temperature because of this.
Looking up to the peaks
Bunnell Notch Trail
Soon the Kilkenny Ridge Trail goes off to your right and you start to head back downhill gradually over the ridge. After a short distance the trail turns right at the now unmaintained Mt. Cabot Trail. Now you start to head back uphill and the trail gets a little rocky. Here I started coming into a layer of snow on the trail that soon became a constant on the hike. The trail makes a couple switchbacks in this section and you will pass a view on your right that is marked by an old sign that simply says "view" with an arrow. About 30 feet off the trail is the nice view from Bunnell Rock.
Bunnell Rock view to the Southwest
The trail continues at a similar incline with still some rocks on the surface. Soon you come to the small Cabot Cabin that has a nice view to the West from the porch. There is also an outhouse here should you need it. I stopped here to take in the views and check out the cabin. When I started back out there was immediately moose track heading up the trail the same direction I was. After a brief walk you soon get to the viewless summit of Mt. Cabot. There is almost a view to the West, but not really.
With no view here I didn't spend much time before heading further along the trail and down from the summit towards The Bulge. I probably could/should have used my microspikes here, but they weren't quite needed. The trail is a little steep in spots, but all in all not bad (at least decending). It seemed to me like a longer descent than I expected and I thought the trail turned more to the right than it actually did here. Before long you are in the saddle and begin the gradual climb up to The Bulge.
Heading down from Mt. Cabot
The Bulge is very wooded and only marked by a small cairn. The decent from here is quick as well and soon you are at the spur to the Horn. This short hike is worth the effort for the great views that can be had from the peak of the rocks. from the writing in the snow it appears someone just recently finished their 4Ks on Mt. Cabot.
East from The Horn
It was windy up out of the trees and it seemed like I was running a little late, so I didn't spend too much time on the peak of The Horn before heading back down. Once back to the Kilkenny Ridge Trail, it follows along the Western side of Th eHorn gradually working its way down. The trail then heads uphill slightly as you near the Unknown Pond Trail. By this point the clouds had come in for a bit and the view of the pond wasn't as good.
Near Unknown Pond
By this point most of the snow was all gone again and I kept going now down the Unknown Pond Trail. Working past the pond this trail never gets really steep and is only a little rocky in a few places. It works along the left side of a ravine and past a large birch glade. The trail is pretty gradual, but did get a little muddy in sections. As the trail gets lower on the mountain it does cross the brook a couple times but these are pretty easy.
Pretty easy going
Nearing the end you come to a swampy area and go along the side before following an old railroad bed. While the ties are no longer there, you can see depressions in the ground where they use to be. Soon I was back at my truck without seeing a single hiker onthe trails. Just before leaving a group did hike back into the lot though.
Nearing the end of the Unknown Pond Trail
All in all the hike was a good one even with limited views most of the time. It was nice having the trails to myself all day. My sense of time was off today making me think I was constantly behind. I am sure this is due to daylight savings time and having been up since 3:30am with the 3.5 hr drive to the trailhead. It was interesting to see how much the moose were using the trails recently. I saw tracks as soon as I left the truck and there was good track between the cabin and the summit of Mt. Cabot. And the Unknown Pond Trail had track in it probably at least 1/3 of the way it seemed. Too bad I didn't see any of them though, just 6 grouse at various places.
For all the pictures from the hike, just go HERE