Wednesday, March 14, 2012

1,500 Feet of Vertical on Roads in Waterville Estates

When I want exercise that is more strenuous than walking on flat roads, but less so than real hiking, I look for roads which have some meaningful elevation gain.  Tripoli Road and the roads in the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest are close to home, and are my most frequent destinations.  In winter they are unplowed but usually packed by snowmobiles (recreational on Tripoli Road, Experimental Station staff in Hubbard Brook Forest), and can be easily barebooted. However immediately after a snowfall, or during the spring melt, these roads can be difficult.

I had known for a long time that Waterville Estates was on the slopes of Campton Mountain, and looking at my Garmin-compatible topo map of NH I saw that a couple of roads ended over 1,000 feet above Rt. 175.  A PDF road map of the area (without contour lines) is also available.  In March 2011 I planned a route taking me to the high end of both Taylor Drive (1,820 feet) and Abanki Trail (1,620 feet), 7.2 miles starting at the bottom of Winterbrook Road and gaining 1,500 feet of elevation.  I have often returned since, walking as far as I wanted on any given day. On weekdays I park opposite the Campton Cupboard convenience store in "downtown Campton",   0.7 miles from the start of Winterbrook Road, while on weekends  I park  at the school, which is only 0.3 miles from Winterbrook Road.


This map shows the maximal walk I do, 7.2 miles with 1,500 feet of elevation gain. It is a fully interactive Google Map, so you can zoom in or out, pan and change the view to satellite or street map.

View Waterville Estates in a larger map

I normally do not take my camera when doing this walk, as it is more akin to going to the gym than to doing a hike, but on one of my first times there (March 17th 2011) I did.

Coming from "downtown Campton" you cross NH 49, then cross the Mad River just below the Campton dam.  With the beginning of spring melt the water was flowing:

Campton Dam
The road follows the Mad River:

Mad River from NH 175
Shortly thereafter Rt. 175 crosses Winter Brook, which joins the Mad River which you can (barely!) see in the background:

Winter Brook from NH 175
After 0.7 miles from "downtown Campton" (or 0.3 miles from the school) Winterbrook Road starts, with signs for Waterville Estates and the tiny Campton Mountain Ski Area:

Signs at start of Winterbrook Road
The road rises at a constant moderate gradient, and at about ¾ of a mile passes an interesting sign:

Note "Studded Winter Tires  Recommended"!
When did you last see "studded snow tires"??  About ¼ of a mile further the road crosses Winter Brook, much smaller at this stage of its life:

About 1½ miles from Rt. 175 my route forks; I take the left fork (continuing on Winterbrook Road) on the way up. Then on to Summit Avenue, Weetamoo Trail and Taylor Drive to Hilltop Drive, the highest road in the estate. The upper part of Summit Avenue becomes steeper, while Weetamoo Trail and Taylor drive are steep.

There are almost no views from the road on the way up, though you get glimpses of the outline of the mountains through the trees as you get higher. There are views from Hilltop Avenue, but you must look for them; trees and houses keep getting in the way! Here are views from Hilltop Drive, Moosilauke:

Cannon, with the Cannonballs and the Franconia peaks barely visible,

and Tecumseh, with Welch and Dickey.

 On the way down the steep upper section of Taylor Drive faces Mount Tecumseh, so there were straight ahead views:

I also found an opening between a house and the trees through which I had a view of Mount Moosilauke:

I continued retracing my steps to Winterbrook Road, from which I took a shortcut (Isaax Fox Road, note strange spelling!) to Reservoir Road and followed it and Abanki Trail to the other high point of the road system.  At the top of Abanki Trail there was this welcoming sign:

Clearly time to go home!


  1. Truly terrific idea, especially for the mud season! Have done similar trekking in areas close to my home in Bethlehem.


    1. Thanks, John!

      The pictures are not very good, the summits are very far from Campton (except for Tecumseh-Welch-Dickey). Hope to get better ones this Mud Season.