Sunday, March 25, 2012

Waterfalls Along Shannon Brook

The Mount Roberts Trail, in the Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area, is south facing and is almost entirely in hardwoods (scrub oak), so it is one of the earliest trails in Central New Hampshire to become snow free in the spring. Add excellent views to the south over Lake Winnipesaukee from open ledges on the way, and views to the north of the White Mountains, and it is one of my favorite hikes at this time of the year.

Last year I first read about the Brook Walk, a delightful trail that follows a part of Shannon Brook with many cascades and waterfalls, and I often incorporate it into my Mount Roberts hike.

Last Monday (3/19/2012) I was returning to Thornton from Boston. Feeling too tired to hike Mount Roberts I decided to do a loop including the Brook Walk, and take my time taking photographs. Most of the photos are from that day, though I have included a few from other trips.



This is a fully interactive Google Map. You can zoom in or out, pan, switch from map view to satellite view, and by clicking on either of the parking icons you can get directions to them.

A KMZ file, viewable in Google Earth, containing the track plus photos is here.

View Larger Map

I parked, as I almost always do, at the lower parking lot on Rt. 171. It is huge; I assume that it sees heavy use by snowmobilers in winter:

Just outside the parking lot is a kiosk with a map of the area:

The trail starts of the opposite side of the road, and you soon come to a welcome sign:

and the first of many trail signs:

The trail follows Shannon Brook, then a tributary, climbing at times more steeply than you would expect from an old carriage road.  It then dips down to cross the tributary on a bridge, and shortly thereafter reaches the lower end of the Brook Walk:

The Brook Walk drops steeply and crosses Shannon Brook on a bridge just upstream from its junction with the tributary (I would guess that the tributary is somewhat larger than Shannon Brook).  I followed a path downstream a bit and got this photo of the junction (tributary to the right):

Almost immediately upstream from the bridge is the most impressive of the falls; Falls of Song.  Each of the major falls has an interpretive sign, with an old picture and explanatory text:

The falls now:

The Brook Walk then follows the brook upstream, passing by a total of six named and signed falls.  Next up are the Bridal Veil Falls:

Just below the Bridal Veil Falls was the only ice I saw:

Next up is Emerald Pool and Emerald Pool Falls:

The falls from downstream:

and the pool from upstream:

The next set of falls are Whittier falls:

Beyond them is an unnamed cascade that seems worth noting:

On my two March trips I somehow completely missed the Twin Falls (often called 7 cascades, as they are a series of cascades)

Here is the most impressive of the cascades that make it up

 Finally I reached the last set of falls, Roaring Falls, which are the only ones that still have a bridge across them (though views are much better from below the falls):

The falls

and the pool below them

 I crossed the bridge and had lunch near Shannon Pond, which still had a partial ice covering:

After lunch I descended by the Shannon Brook trail, passing through a clearing from which there is a partial view of the Castle in the Clouds:

A couple of notes.  On my way in I met three women who live in the area; they told me that the water was quite a bit lower than it had been earlier in the season, but was still quite high.  I have never really timed my trips to coincide with peak high water, but hope to do so either after a big storm or at the peak of next year's snow melt.

For photographers I will note that the banks of the brook are very steep, and that I did not feel comfortable going far off trail.  There were several places where I longed to get closer to the brook for better views, but did not feel it was safe.

1 comment:

  1. A very fine report, Mohamed!

    Like you, I have never really timed my trips to coincide with peak high water in this area. However, after reading your report and seeing your photos, I'm now thinking that I should try to do so in the future!

    Thanks for posting this!