Starr King Trail
Distance: 6.7 mi.
Elevation Gain: 2,392 ft. (overall) 2,726 ft. (total)
Time: 2:11 (Mt. Starr King) 3:10 (Mt. Waumbek) 5:30 (total)
The trail starts off nice and gentle up an old logging road from a small parking lot. While the lot isn't plowed, the snow wasn't deep yet and I was able to drive my truck right up in. Shortly after starting out, you leave the logging road you are on for a quick bit through the woods just to come out on another logging road. You stay on this road for quite a ways. Shortly you will go past the old springhouse foundation on your right next to the trail. Continuing up, the trail stays pretty gentle and mostly smooth. There are some rocks in the trail and today you could tell there was ice under the snow. It seems like this trail would be wet in the spring.
Following an old logging road
After a while, the trail leaves the logging road turning 90 degrees to the right. This is hard to miss as the logging road gets grown in with small trees. You head this direction mostly before turning back left some and heading up the mountain some more. It still isn't steep, but the trail does get a few more larger rocks in it. It was still icy under the snow here too and after two slips, I decided it was time for the microspikes.
Over some rocks
Soon, the trail will come to the edge of the hardwoods and go into the softwoods for the rest of it's length. Turning into the softwoods, the trail now follows along the side of the ridge instead of the top of it. It gets a little more rocky in here, and has a couple moderately steep sections. There isn't much looking out from the trees, but in places you can catch small peeks out through the trees towards Franconia Range. Coming up through the softwoods is interesting as it feels almost like you are in a tunnel. A little after halfway through the softwoods, you pass a spring on your left right next to the trail.
Up through the tunnel of trees
You can start to tell the trees are getting a little bit shorter just before the summit of Mt. Starr King. The trail slowly turns around to the right just before the trees open up above you at the summit. There is a rock here you can stand on to get a decent view. Just past this is the remains of an old shelter, but the trees are tall enough there isn't much of a view here.
As I was having a terrible time regulating my body temperature today. I didn't want to stay here too long in my sweaty clothes. I wanted to get to Mt. Waumbek where I would change into my dry layers there and take a break. The trail heads back into the trees the next to the old fireplace and heads gently down into the saddle. Soon I came to a fresh set of moose tracks in the trail where it turned off to my right. With a fresh coating of snow last night, I knew they were from this morning. They were pretty big and I stopped to take a couple pictures of them. Once I started out, there were more tracks in another 20 feet. At first I thought it was a second moose, but it was headed the wrong way. The moose had done a u-turn just into the trees. Now heading away from me, the moose was taking longer strides and I decided that he had probably heard me and turned around.
I followed his tracks in the trail all the way to Mt. Waumbek summit. Heading towards me, the moose had been back and forth in and out of the trail looking for food on each side. Heading away from me, he never left the trail. I now had my camera out hoping I would see him ahead of me. Even if not following a moose, the trail through here is nice and gentle and a great walk. The time through here passes quickly and you have some limited views through the trees. Through here it was also interesting to see where the moose went in and out of. I was certainly surprised at one spot that it came out back onto the trail. There didn't look like enough room through the branches for a 100lb deer, nevermind an 800lb moose.
Following tracks up the trail
Having read about a viewpoint just past the summit of Mt. Waumbek, I contintued down the trail a couple hundred feet more. There is a great viewpoint just over a blowdown area that looks out to the Presidential Range. Oddly enough, this was where the moose finally left the trail and headed down the mountain. I put on some dry layers here and had a bite to eat. After enjoying the view for a while, I knew I needed to head back in order to be home in time for a party tonight. I headed back down the trail, stopping at Mt. Starr King for some views now that I was dry. Then I continued on back to the truck.
View from Waumbek
When I started the hike today it was 7 degrees. On the summit it had warmed up to 8.5 degrees. Back to the truck it was up to 16 degrees. There was no wind to worry about today as it was only a gentle breeze at best. I was surprised though that this was my second hike this week and on both of them I hadn't seen any other hikers. It was great to be hiking today with some winter conditions finally and a great blue sky. On the way home, I stopped briefly on 115A at a large field to get a couple pictures of the mountains.
Mt. Starr King view
View on the ride home
For all the pictures from the hike, just go HERE