Distance: 14.3 miles
Low Elevation: 1157 feet
High Elevation: 1752 feet
Elevation Gain: 907 feet
Elevation Loss: 907 feet
Start Location: Lincoln Woods TH
Finish Location: Lincoln Woods TH
Route: Lincoln Woods Trail, bushwhack along old road, Lincoln Woods Trail, Bondcliff Trail, Camp 15 siding and back, , Bondcliff Trail to Black Brook Trestle, Bondcliff Trail in search of old road, Bondcliff Trail with Camps 16 and 15 searches, Lincoln Woods Trail, herd path to illegal campsite, Lincoln Woods Trail, Black Pond Trail with search for old ice house and back, Camp 7 search, bushwhack to Birch Island Brook and back. Lincoln Woods Trail, Camp 8 search, Lincoln Woods Trail
Weather: Sunny, mid 30's in the morning, 70's in the afternoon with a breeze
How to Turn 9.4 miles into 14.3 – A Visit to Camp 16, and Then SomeI didn't believe the GPS numbers of 15 miles. No way. I did a bunch of exploring off trail, but not at extra 5.6 miles worth. I knew the thing would give errors if I was standing still, so when I got home, I removed as much as I could, and found a mere 4.9 extra. Once I looked closely at the tracks, it became clear. 0.1 here, 0.2 there, there's a half mile, and it all adds up. Oof. I'm out of shape, I didn't want to do that much.
I hadn't explored Camps 15 and 16 yet, and hadn't really gone through Camp 7 all that much. Plus, I wanted to find some old roads and maybe do a little fishing. Plus, I found a picture with what I believe was the ice house on Ice Pond off of the Black Pond Trail. Plus, plus, plus. I've been terribly busy lately, and I finally felt ok with giving myself a day off, so a wandering day of exploration fit the bill.
And a lovely 36° to start what was supposed to be a 71° sunny day. Brrr. Despite the chill, it was shaping up to be a beautiful day
My plan was to shoot straight past all the camps, go to the site of the former suspension bridge, and break up the Lincoln Woods monotony exploring on the way back. So I thought. As it turns out, I kept getting pulled away to look at interesting things.
The Osseo Trail came quick enough, and for a guy who hardly eats breakfast, I was pretty ravenous, so I stopped and fueled up. I was going to need it. Diversion #1 was an oddly flat area past the Osseo that I had explored a bit before, and decided to check out again.
Note the slopes on the left and right, and strangely flat in the middle. It just doesn't seem natural. I followed it north until it seemingly stopped right at Birch Island Brook. There was nothing on the other side to suggest it continuing and with all the runoff and rain lately, I wasn't about to soak myself. All the streams were running pretty strong today.
Back to the trail, having to backtrack nearly all the way with the brook and muck in the way. And almost immediately after crossing the brook, I thought I must be losing my mind. For all the times I've been on this trail, I could not remember seeing this.
Yet, on the other side, the terrain was completely undisturbed. The best I could figure then, was a logging landing. So now I had to check this out! I headed off in the direction it pointed, not really finding much except a big hill in the way. Since I was near the other side of where the wide flat area ended I went there, again to find nothing. I did find a couple old roads nearby, and then decided to take a shot of a nice little cascade.
Then I realized that with a log sticking into the earth, not atop it, and with a couple of beams sticking out, that this was man-made.
Well now, that's pretty dang cool! Didn't do anything to help solve the issue.
I had another diversion near the Franconia Falls Trail (I honestly don't remember what I saw), and went poking about to find this illegal campsite tucked away.
The lumber confused me until after I got home and realized it was pieces of the old Franconia Shelter.
Past the Franconia Brook trestle (built in 1905!) and then on a section of trail I've only been on once in the past decade (which I hated then, seeing it was at the end of a Bonds traverse!). When passing Camp 15, I clearly saw a railroad siding, so I decided to follow that now to it's end. Finally a little over three hours after I started I came to the Black Brook Trestle. Apparently I had been here in 1985, but I remember nothing of it. I had read on Erin's ScenicNH blog the supports had shifted, and boy did it look scary now.
I wanted to check out the old suspension bridge site, but Black Brook could not be forded safely. It was roaring, and searching upstream yielded no good place without risk of falling in. Ah well. I went back checking out the part of Camp 16 east of the Bondcliff turn, finding a ton of artifacts (including bed frames), not surprising since this camp was in operation through both the J. E. Henry and Parker-Young years.
My biggest surprise was some lumber, which I'm shocked has lasted some 70+ years.
Next up was to find a prominent logging road in old pictures heading north of the camp. It appeared to hug the brook closer than the Bondcliff Trail, but I couldn't be sure. After stumbing around in a sapling/hobblebush forest, I came up with nada. Ah well.
I checked out the rest of Camp 16, lastly checking a curious stone wall that I suspected may have been a water tank, as an old photo showed a path down to the river, but other than the wall, I found nothing else.
Having thoroughly wandered around Camp 16 for a good long while, it was now back to the Camp 15 site. According to Gove, a man who has done a lot of research on the Whites logging railroads, this camp was only in use for 4 years (1906-1910), so I wasn't expecting much, but it had some nice finds, including some cant dog heads, and a seriously large and heavy piece of metal that one might guess came off of a train itself.
That being done, I headed further back, noticing another oddity, a piece of pipe crossing the trail in what I thought was an odd location. Turns out it's very close to a branch line I had forgotten about until I got home.
Next was the puzzle of the second trestle at Franconia Brook. The Franconia Branch of the railroad crossed the brook at a different spot than where the trail trestle is (and was built earlier than that), but I've never closely looked at the other side to see where it came into the main line. I checked out the east side again, noting where it must have hit on the far bank, but looking on the far bank again yielded nothing. Probably just missing something stupid.
On the far side I noticed a side path toward the river I had never seen before. Sure enough, another illegal campsite, but it did provide a nice shot of the Franconia Brook and East Branch confluence.
It was here that I finally saw my first person of the day on the other side of the river. OK, finally off to Camp 7! No, wait! I saw a recent aerial showing what I presume was the ice house on Ice Pond! This was easy to get to, and once there I realized I had been here before. Danged memory! Going to the far end of the dam wall, I did see part of the foundation, which I hadn't been to before.
Alrighty then. Camp 7. All I had ever found there was the famous bed frame but a more thorough search yielded some more goodies. It was sparse, but worth it.
Now there was hoards of people on the trail (or relatively so for a Tuesday). Ah well, solitude gone, and hardly unexpected on this trail. I decided to escape and head off to Birch Island Brook further up to see if any fising for native Brookies presented itself. Alas, no. Too much current, for all I know the water may have been too cold, and it was too early for any hatches seeing as I only had dry flies today. But on my way back I followed an old road south I noticed coming in.
Sure enough, later I found it showed in some old photos, and it also petered out in the photos exactly where I found it petered out. Simply amazing. Back to the trail from yet another off-trail exploration, but not before finding a beautiful open mossy area which reminded me why I love bushwhacking.
Camp 8 was the first camp I had ever found, never knowing this clearing had any significance, and it is likely most people do the same. Armed with aerial photos and on the ground photos, I was now trying to figure out the exact layout of it, now knowing that another area other than the obvious clearing was part of this. I found a few more relics, and was hoping to find some evidence of the narrow gauge line that came out of here, but I wasn't having any luck with that either.
Time to leave. My feet were killing me from so many miles, and like so many other times, it was time for the Death March on the Lincoln Woods Trail. Fortunately, it was only 1.6 miles out so it really wasn't that bad. I finally remembered to get a super-zoom of the new slide on West Hitchcock, and seeing the frightening overhanging rock, decided it was no place I wanted to be despite my love for scrambling up slides.
Back to the trailhead and those agonizing 10 steps or so near the visitor center and away in the car. I stopped by the Mountain Wanderer to get a book and perhaps some other goodies, and to share with Steve today's fun, but alas, he is closed on Tuesdays. A new thing of a fresh off the grill Quarter Pounder was perhaps the best tasting McD's burger I have ever had, no doubt enhanced by some serious mileage. The drive home was of many thoughts of a happy day to myself.