Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Uphill Road Walking in the Campton to Lincoln Area

I try, on most days when I am not hiking, to walk for at least an hour, and if possible two.  I find it hard to raise my heart rate meaningfully on a flat road (it seems to require constant concentration) but have no difficulty doing so on an uphill road, even at a very moderate grade.  Hence I do almost all of my walking on roads with some inclination.

The greatest vertical gain on roads is in Waterville Estates, and I have described that walk separately: 1,500 Feet of Vertical on Roads in Waterville Estates.  Another walk with substantial elevation gain is Ellsworth Hill Road, with about 1,100 feet of elevation gain over four miles.I view both of these as substitute hikes, done when I would like to hike but want to avoid rotting snow, rather than walks.  The three roads that I use for what I consider walks are Tripoli Road, Russell Pond Road, and Hubbard Brook Road combined with a couple of roads that branch off it.

Tripoli Road

This is my most common uphill walk.  There is ample parking space by the side of the road just below the first gate. There are mile marker posts on the north side of the road (left, going uphill) with distances from the second gate. On the map the two yellow markers represent the first and second gates, the numbered markers the mile markers, the blue marker Mack Brook and the hiker symbols the trailheads of the East Pond, Mount Tecumseh and Mount Osceola trails.

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There is a moderately steep section to start, then a long almost flat stretch to the second gate, then the road climbs fairly steadily and gently.  In spite of the gentle grades I find it quite easy to get my heart rate up (I do not measure it, but guess from my breathing).  For a short one hour walk I will go to the second gate; going to Mack Brook and back takes a good two hours.

Currently I rarely go beyond Mack Brook; when I feel that I have enough energy to do so I choose a steeper walk or a small hike.  A few years ago I used to do longer walks regularly, so I have included them in the table below.

Distances Along Tripoli Road
Location Distance
Elevation Gain
2nd Gate3.2235
Mile Marker 15.4385
Mack Brook Road6.6450
Mile Marker 27.6580
East Pond Trailhead9.6890
Mount Tecumseh Trailhead10.41,010
Mile Marker 411.81,200
Mount Osceola Trailhead12.61,380

When the hardwoods are leafless you can see the outlines of the hills west of Mount Tecumseh through the trees, but there are no open views, so no photos!

Russel Pond Road

The road to Russell Pond leaves Tripoli Road about 1.4 miles from the lower gate, and rises more steeply to the high point before dropping down to the pond, with a short ascent on the way back.  The full walk to the pond and back takes about three hours, a good workout on a non-hiking day!

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There are a few landmarks for shorter trips on days when I do not wish to go all the way to the pond: a gated logging road, the hairpin bend and the height of land (marked 1, 2 and 3 respectively on the map).

Distances Along Tripoli and Russel Pond Roads
Location Distance
Elevation Gain
Logging Road4.8580
Hairpin Bend5.8680
Height of Land7.0900
Russel Pond Beach Area8.21,030

A bit before the height of land there is a cleared viewpoint, with views of Thornton Gap and of Mount Tecumseh and its northwestern slopes and, if you look carefully, of the summit of Mount Osceola and its two western peaks.

The most interesting views are to the east, with Thornton Gap dominating the view, and the mass of Mount Osceola (including its western peaks) on one side and Mount Tecumseh on the other.  Thornton gap on a cloudy summer day

and on a clear early fall day:

A bit more zoom to show South Tripyramid and West Sleeper through the gap:

If you get to the right location you can see the main peak of Mount Osceola with the two western peaks (the pointed westernmost one just peaking through the leafless trees):

A view of the three peaks and Breadtray Ridge:

Slightly off topic, the best view I have had of all four summits of Mount Osceola is from high up on the ski slopes of Mount Tecumseh

Views to the southeast are less impressive, as the northwestern slopes of Mount Tecumseh are rather bland:

If I am having lunch I usually eat it here, whether or not I am going to the pond.  Views at the pond are peaceful, but not very interesting (at least there are waves on this photo taken on a very windy day!!)

A few more photos can be found on my web albums: Russell Pond Road 4-2-2012 and Thornton Gap from Access Road.  For a description of an alternate approach to the pond and viewpoint see Russell Pond, with unusual views of Thornton Gap and scroll down.

Hubbard Brook Road

When I want a steeper walk I go to the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest.  For lots of information check the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study website, and for a guided tour of one watershed, with lots of fascinating information, see their Watershed 6 Walking Tour.  The web site also has a fascinating Mirror Lake Virtual Tour, though there is not much serious walking there.

To the walker the most visible evidence of research activity are the weather stations (which, amongst other functions, measure precipitation) and the weirs, which measure stream flow.  I use two of the weirs, Weir 6 (most westerly) and Weir 2, as end points for my walks; they are marked with the waterfall symbol on the map.

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The road climbs fairly steeply for 1.7 miles, when it makes a sharp turn, crosses the confluence of three drainages, and flattens out.  This point is marked with a 1 on the map, and is where I end short walks (about an hour round trip).  After a couple of tenths of a mile Weir Road (marked) branches uphill to the right (marked 2 on the map).  It soon reaches a second fork (marked 3 on the map), where Flume Road branches steeply to the left and ends at Weir 6.  My usual walk is an out and back to Weir 6, a couple of hours at what is, for me, a good pace.  For a slightly shorter walk with less elevation gain I continue along Weir Road to Weir 2, if I feel really ambitious I go to both, what I call the "Y" walk.

Distances Along Hubbard Brook Road
Location Distance
Elevation Gain
Sharp turn3.4620
Weir 24.8840
Weir 65.21,010
Complete Y6.11,170

There is no formal parking area, but there is adequate space by the side of Mirror Lake Road at the point where Hubbard Brook Road starts.  Again, a walk in the hardwoods with no views, so no photos!


  1. Mohamed, there is a ton of useful and interesting information in this report! Thanks for posting!

    Just a couple of additional comments, as follows. Regarding Russell Pond, I've often wondered about the distances and elevation gains to that destination and the various points along the way. Although I've driven to Russell Pond, I've not done it as a hike (mud-season, or otherwise). It sounds like a trek worth considering.

    Regarding Hubbard Brook Road, I loved the links you included, and it also sounds like a great walk!


    1. Enjoy the Hubbard Brook links! I have spent many happy hours on the virtual tours of Watershed 6 and Mirror lake.