Sat, Feb 23, 2019
Mt Osceola & Osceola East
by Bill Newman
Hike Length: Dayhike, 8.4 miles
Trails: Mt Osceola Trail to Mount Osceola and East Osceola
Date: July 23, 2005
What to do when the weather forecast is for completely clear skies and 70 degree temps at the summits? Pull out the map or the list, and the pack and get out!
I was looking for a peak that I have never done and I had read Hike-nh.comís trip report on the Osceola's, so I figured it would be nice day for my son, Nick, and I to tackle these 2 hills and check off 2 more from our list. Waterville Valley has a lot to offer in terms of peaks on the 48 list and itís only 2 hours from where we live (near Boston) so that also factored into our decision.
We hit Rt 93 at about 8 AM and was at the trailhead by 10. However, there are 2 approaches for these mountains: Tripoli Rd from the South and hit the main Osceola peak or taking The Kanc from the North near Greely Ponds to the East peak. The Mt Osceola trail goes between both roads, but I donít think there is an advantage to doing it one way or the other because the mileage appears to be almost identical (this way was about 8.4 RT hitting both peaks). We opted to come in from Waterville Valley by way of Exit 28 and the Tripoli Rd. This was a little confusing as you actually have to go in towards the Waterville ski area and then bear off to the right on Tripoli Rd. past the Osceola campground. The trailhead is only a few miles down but is very limited for parking (there is a fee for parking here) with maybe a 15 car limit. I was surprised at the number of people there in the morning as we had to park on the side of the road but we found out later that there was some type of corporate event at the conference center and a group of them decided to go hiking today.
Nick and I were just out for a great day and I NEVER care about book time for any peak especially since Iím a little older and slower, but both of us were very surprised that we caught up to and passed several of the smaller groups without much effort This section of the trail is fairly routine for anyone that's hiked in the Whites, but the rocks have a tendancy to slow down inexperienced hikers based on what we saw today. Plus I think that some type of boot always has an advantage to sneakers on trails like this.
The trail isnít too difficult in terms of steepness, but the amount of rocks and roots made for an interesting day of stone-hopping. Also, the AMC guide is right on with this trail regarding water. There is a brook but it can dry up during the summerÖ..and it had. Bring water! And another ďAlsoĒ, a lot of this area near Waterville is rock ledge. If youíve ever done the Welch/Dickey loop you know what I mean. There is some ledge through-out the trail and Iíd much rather walk on that that to play leap-frog with boulders, but several other hikers were not comfortable with these parts of the trail so I figured Iíd mention it. It's probably a little more difficult in wet weather so keep that in mind when considering these mountains and this trail.
There are very limited views along the way but every so often Tecumseh and the Waterville ski area could be seen, other than that itís all trees until the summit. The trail crooís have done a great job here as the trail is in excellent condition; no blow downs, no mud puddles (back to the no water thing), and no problems navigating the trail as itís extremely easy to follow.
We hit the main summit in a little over 2 hours or just in time for lunch but it was fairly crowded (30+ people). A lot of the corporate group was there already and several people we had passed earlier eventually made it, so Nick and I just ate a quick sandwich and moved on to the clearly visible East peak where we didnít have to listen to all the complaining about how difficult mountain climbing is (this is a very moderate trail too!).
The trail between the East peak and the ďmainĒ peak is about the only fun section on this trail. Right from the main peak you drop down a very steep section about 500 feet, level off, and then back up 200 feet to the very wooded East peak. We tried in vain to find some views or even a bench marker for the East summit without any luck, so we headed back the 1mile we just came to get back to the main peak. Along the trail there are a couple of areas to get some decent views and plenty of the mountains to the north were visible in the clear skies (the Franconia ridge is just NE and the Presidential range is just North....and all look fantastic today!). It took us almost an hour to get back up what we had just come down and by the time we made it back to the main summit, the corporate group was gone so we had a chance to finally check out some of the views form the summit. Itís actually a fairly open and rock ledge summit that provides great views North to the Pemi and Southeast to Waterville, but itís just the overall openness of the area to the east that provides the best summit experience!
We spent a few minutes enjoying the day before starting the hike back down to the car (first we had to pick up some of the litter people kindly left behind). We left the summit at about 3 and were back at the car before 5. We had a beautiful sunny day, crossed 2 more peaks off our list, and got to spend some quality father/son time together. Canít ask for more than that!
Special Equipment: Water, camera, tolerance, and more waterPictures from the Osceola Hike >>
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