I found Mount Katherine a while back while reviewing my map and looking for shorter, easy hikes to keep on the "if the opportunity arises" list. Mount Katherine is only 1,380' high and has no real prominent peak. The elevation gain is very minimal (approximately 240') and the trailhead starts at the Ferncroft Road Parking Area. From the parking area, the summit of Mount Katherine is only 1.6 miles.
Farmhouse near the Ferncroft Road parking area
The parking area on Ferncroft Road was very picturesque. It was in the middle of an old field, with a nice farm house and Mount Wonalancet placed beautiful in the background. The 0.5 mile walk to the beginning of the trail was easy, but meandered through private property. However, there were many signs welcoming hikers. We crossed a very nice bridge over the Wonalancet River and soon came to some trail signs, with trails veering in a few directions. We located our trail (Pasture Path), saw that it went to the left, and started trekking.
Barn, with Mount Wonalancet in the background, near the Ferncroft Road parking area
The grades on the trail were extremely gentle and in no way did we feel as though we were gaining any elevation. Blue blazes marked the trail and they were very easy to follow. The forest was primarily made up of hardwood and many of the leaves of the trees were all over the trail. I noticed to the left of us was a great, old stonewall. I love seeing stonewalls in the middle of the woods because it really signifies a ton of history. At one time, these walls were constructed by our ancestors, most likely to establish a land boundary on a road side or field edge. There's no doubt the landscape looked much different today than it did when the wall was built.
The Wonalancet River
We quickly passed a sign which indicated that these woods were part of the Rich Memorial Forest. There was also a sign which said that the woods welcomed respectful visitors. Being hikers that leave no trace, I knew we would have no problem with this request. Before we knew it, we had made it 0.6 miles on the Pasture Path and came to Tilton Springs. Tilton Springs looked like it was at one time a very nice structure. It was a small pool, constructed of rock walls in the middle of the trail.There was also a rusty old plumbing pipe that was feeding the water into the pool. For me, it didn't look like a refreshing spring, however, I'm sure in a situation where I absolutely needed water, I would look at it in a different light. We snapped a few pictures and continued onto the summit.
The last 0.5 miles of the trail was very similar with respect to the trail incline. It was easy and it was tough to realize you were going up at all. We soon came to a small forest clearing to the right of the trail, which had been logged recently. Even though it was not a nice sight in the woods, it did provide a good view of Mount Whiteface to the northwest. We continued on and before we knew it, we came out to the summit where we found nice views of Mount Chocorua to the Northeast.
View of Mount Whiteface from the Pasture Path
Great colors in a tree near the summit of Mount Katherine
The slabs on the summit had a cairn made up of some very large rocks, which was setup like a chair and table. Jill and I took advantage of this and setup our lunch table. After we ate, we explored a little and found the views to Mount Chocorua were beautiful. Below, you could see the popular Wonalancet, little white church, with a beautifully colored Mount Chocorua in the background. To the north, we did have some restricted views of Mount Passaconaway as well. Since we were the only people up there, we hung out for 45 minutes and then headed back down.
Jill and I on the summit of Mount Katherine
On the way down, walking back to the truck, we did have a run in with a woodpecker and tried to snap a few shots. Also, since we were driving right by the little white church, we decided to head down to the end of the field, swing back around and try to take a few nice pictures. All in all, I think we got some great shots.
Mount Chocorua with a beautiful farm setting in the foreground
After playing photographer, it was back to Route 16 and north to Jackson, NH. We had never really experienced "leaf peeping" season up in the White Mountains before. It was truly a different world. People were all over, taking pictures and trying capture the colorful beauty. However, I must say that the beautiful landscape does tend to make people act and drive in a manner that can be unsafe. I can't tell you how many times people in front of me on Route 16 literally just slammed on their brakes in front of me, because of the photo opportunity of Mount Chocorua over Chocorua Lake, or the Moats to the west, just past Conway Village. It was crazy at times!
Little White Church in Wonalancet
Crossing the covered bridge into Jackson Village is always special to Jill and I. It is a place where we go to get away a few times a year. We call it our second home. It is a place of peace and quiet and we love it so much. We will retire there one day and live among the mountains. This particular trip into Jackson was to checkout the Pumpkin People which, the local establishments setup around this time each year.
We're off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of oz!
We drove around for a bit and checked out the different displays. They were so good that we just had to park the truck and snap a few shots. At the base of Thornhill Road was a great display of the Wizard of Oz. Up on Black Mountain, at the Shovel Handle Pub, was King Kong climbing the sign outside. Across from the Eagle Mountain House, the gang from the Flinstones was chillin' by the golf course. Just down the hill from this display, Charlie Brown and his friends were hanging out. Finally, on the way out of town, we saw a sign for Snooki and Pauly-D from the Jersey Shore, so we took a quick detour up a road we weren't familiar with, and found them relaxing in a hot tub.
Flinstones, Meet the Flinstones!
Snooki and Pauly-D in the hot tub
After having some fun with the Pumpkin People, Jill and I headed home. The leaf peeping traffic was pretty brutal all the way back to Epping, but it was well worth it. It was such a fun day and one I will treasure. We got in a great, relaxing hike and had the mountain all to ourselves. Then we got to drive around the town we love and enjoy the great displays that the establishments were nice enough to construct. Another wonderful day with my beautiful wife, in the amazing White Mountains of New Hampshire!