Mt. Webster & Mt. Jackson & Mt. Pierce
Saco Lake Trail --> Webster Jackson Trail --> Webster Branch --> Webster Cliff Trail --> Crawford Path
Distance: 8.4 mi. (Mtn) 0.6 mi. (Road) 9.0 mi. (Total)
Elevation Gain: 2,431 ft. (Overall) 3,261 ft. (Total)
Time: 2:36 (Webster) 3:31 (Jackson) 5:22 (Pierce) 6:49 (Total)
The only other time I have hiked the southern presidentials was on the last day of my presidential traverse back in June. I decided it was time to head back and get the southern end again. The plan was to hit Mt. Webster first as I decided not too at the end of my traverse. After a view of the notch, I would head up to Jackson. I would then do Mt. Pierce, my favorite of the southern peaks on the range. If time was looking good and my legs were feeling up to it, I would also try to hit Eisenhower too.
Weather for today was supposed to clear off mid to late morning. When I parked at Mt. Clinton Rd, things were clear to the northwest, but still fully clouded in the notch. I headed around the back of Saco Lake rather than walk the road. Then I started up the Webster Jackson Trail. This trail was steeper than I remember it from coming down. One long steep rocky section certainly jogged my memory though. Things went good to the break in the trail. I head right towards Webster. Right off you go down a steep rocky bit of trail to get down to the brook that forms Silver Cascade. With the clouds and occasional drizzle, the rocks were slick and I took my time. I stopped for a photo of the waterfall, then headed back up an equally steep and rocky bit to get back above the brook. While the trail had some smooth rock patches, the trail wasn't too slippery. Eventually it starts to level out more and soon you are at Mt. Webster. So far it didn't appear the clouds had lifted at all as I could only see at best 150 feet. So much for that view down into the notch. With the wind and no view, I headed back out after just a couple pictures.
The trail to Jackson is well worn and went well. There were a few steep bits that were a bit slick with all the moisture, so I managed to go slowly and safely down near the edges. The steep rocky bits just before Jackson weren't as slick as I was expecting, so they weren't too hard. On the summit of Jackson there were just a few other people. While taking a break, the skies were trying to clear with patches of blue sky mostly to the west and a bit to the south. The summit of Mt. Washington was viewable occasionally through a couple breaks.
After a nice break and a dry shirt, I headed out. Very quickly I slipped and fell on the damp bare rocks. I only banged my hand and elbow, so I kept going, albeit slower and more carefully. The trail to the hut goes by easily and has many bog bridges. At the hut, there were around a dozen people. I took another break and went in to buy a snack of some bread. When meal time came around at the huts on my presi traverse, the thing I enjoyed most was the fresh bread.
After my snack, I headed up the steep and rocky trail leaving the hut. Going up the switchbacks and rock steps was a bit slow, but I wasn't in a big rush. When I got to the open area just south of the summit, I sat on the rocks here in the sun and had a quick break taking in the view. The last time I was here it was getting a bit hazy and the clouds were coming in. Today the only clouds were seen over towards Maine. Soon I headed up to the summit where a small group was already there. By this time I had decided that I wasn't going to tag Eisenhower today. I had gotten a little later start than planned, the rocks had been slick earlier making it a bit slower going, and my legs were getting a bit tired. No need to push things. Instead I would take my time and enjoy the day more.
On the summit I talked to a few people including some thru hikers. One had started in GA and hiked to PA, then headed to ME to hike back to PA again. His hiking partner today was jumping around on the trail doing 200-300 miles at a time. Shortly after they left, I also headed down to the Crawford Path to head back to the car.
The Crawford Path went well and wasn't as rocky as I expected given the amount of travel it gets. This wouldn't be a bad way to come back up. There was a good size group of parents and kids on the way down. The kids were probably around 6-8 years old. They were all headed to Mizpah Hut. Shortly before Gibbs Falls, there were 3 croo members spread out carrying up supplies for the hut. The third one appeared to have 2 nice pork loins on his back. I don't think I could have snuck one away from him. I took the short path down to the falls for a few more pictures. Then I headed back down to the road and back to my car. I was back early enough I could take my time and still be home before dark. Not something that happens a lot when you have to drive at least 2 hours to get to any of the four thousand footers.
All in all it was a good hike. The lack of view from Webster was disappointing, but how nice the day turned out made up for it.
Brook above Silver Cascade
Webster Jackson Trail (Webster Branch)
Not much of a view into the notch
Starting to clear up
Pierce and Eisenhower from the bog
Mizpah Spring Hut
Down the range where I have already hiked today
Washington from Pierce
View from Pierce
For all the pictures from the hike, just go HERE