Hiking Trail Conditions Report
Peaks East Royce, ME
Trails: Road walk, Laughing Lion Trail, Royce Trail, Royce Connector, East Royce Trail, herd path
Date of Hike
Date of Hike: Monday, May 11, 2020
Parking/Access Road Notes
Parking/Access Road Notes: Descent sized dirt parking lot for about a dozen cars at the start of the East Royce Trail. Pull off for maybe a half dozen cars at the Laughing Lion Trail. None there. Only one other when I arrived at 11am and I was the only one at 1:30pm (after my first hike to Spruce Hill) and 5:30pm. The road in as free of snow. Just some small patches on the side of the road. It wouldn’t surprise me if they were gone by today. Definitely by the end of the week.  
Surface Conditions
Surface Conditions: Dry Trail, Snow - Trace/Minimal Depth, Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Standing/Running Water on Trail, Snow - Wet/Sticky, Snow/Ice - Postholes, Snow/Ice - Small Patches 
Recommended Equipment
Recommended Equipment: Snowshoes, Light Traction 
Water Crossing Notes
Water Crossing Notes: The crossing of Cold River bear the beginning of Laughing Lion Trail was low and was easily rock hopped. The small brook crossings on East Royce Trail were also all easily rock hopped.  
Trail Maintenance Notes
Trail Maintenance Notes: All trails were blazed in yellow. As far as I can remember they were blazed decently well. Just one section maybe halfway down East Royce Trail where I couldn’t see the trail. I headed straight downwards whereas the true trail bore left and slightly down toward a stream. I couldn’t see any blaze either. I imagine it would have been easier to see if the footbed wasn’t obscured by snow. Obviously the herd path beyond where East Royce Trail ends is not blazed. Many of the blazes on East Royce Trail beyond the jct with Royce Connector are on ledges/rock that may still be obscured by snow. I don’t recall any cairns although they may have been underneath all the snow. All the signs were obvious, well above the snow, and in good shape. Most of them are white though so may easily blend in with snow. One very eroded section that’s tough to get up (you’ll know it when you see it) on the upper portion of Laughing Lion Trail. Likely not much to be done about it other than reroute the trail which likely won’t happen anytime soon though. A couple stepovers around the flattish section of Laughing Lion after you gain the ridge. A leaner/widow maker a little further up too I think. A large blowdown right after one of the brook crossings to go around on East Royce Trail. Probably some others I’m forgetting about...  
Dog-Related Notes
Dog-Related Notes: I wouldn’t recommend this hike for dogs. Some parts are too steep and eroded even for hiking dogs. One very eroded spot that’s very tough to get up/down on the upper portion of Laughing Lion Trail. Any dog imaginable would probably need help getting up that (humans too lol!). None seen today which was probably good given the tricky snow conditions as well. Most won’t posthole as badly as humans though ;)  
Bugs: Just some at the car as I was taking a break between my two hikes. I’d recommend bringing bug spray and maybe even a head net this weekend though. They’re going to be bad soon.  
Lost and Found
Lost and Found: What is it with me and losing snow baskets this year?! I don’t think I’ve ever lost one before this year and now I’ve lost three! I was not able to retrieve it so if someone finds one on the herd path between the end of the East Royce Trail and the radio repeater and wouldn’t mind packing it out, it’s be appreciated :)  
Comments: After my out-and-back to Spruce Hill Trail, and a short water and food break at my car, I did this loop. I opted to go up what I thought was the less steep trail (Laughing Lion) and do the road walk first. The trailhead is behind a guardrail and just north of a pull off that serves as the parking area for the trail. You pass a sign saying that some of the climbing routes are closed due to Peregrine Falcons nesting on Laughing Lion Cliff and a sign noting the trail is cooperatively maintained by the CTA (Chatham Trails Association) and USFS. After descending to and crossing the river, the trail is relentlessly steep until it gains the ridge and is level for a bit. There’s some views on and just off trail between here and when it gets steep again. One is a short path over some ledges that you should exercise some care on. There is no snow on trail until this point either.

I think the snow began to appear on trail around here and was fairly consistent from then on. I believe it was all of minimal depth to the jct with Royce Trail. Royce Trail is a relentless steep in this 0.2mi section gaining 450ft of elevation. Trail conditions also became for challenging here with snow over boulders. It took me just shy of a half hour to do this short section. So I was going about a half mile per hour 😂 And am considered by most to be a pretty fast hiker not that far from a trail runners pace on the uphill. I was pretty slow going up Laughing Lion as well due to its steepness but this was steep WITH SNOW. It didn’t quite feel great treacherous but it was definitely tricky going over large rocks with increasing snow depth. Royce Connector is much flatter and goes by some ledges with views out. At this point in my hike, the rain showers had begun so I wasn’t able to see too much though.

I almost decided not to go to East Royce due to how the snow increased and that it had begun to sprinkle but in the end I went for it. The snow depth was at times much less headed to East Royce as the trail was again south facing and often on ledges. That said, when the trail was in the spruce, snow depth was much deeper (maybe close to 3ft at its deepest). This was mostly between where the blazed trail ends and the radio repeater. While I had no trouble following the trail to it’s proper end, the herd path was a bit difficult to follow to the radio repeater. Although I postholed above my knee a couple times, I wouldn’t tell you to wear snowshoes due to all the dry trail and ledge in between. You’d either be taking your snowshoes on and off way too often or giving them one hell of a beating and ruining them very quickly. Precipitation pants, gaiters, and waterproof boots are absolutely needed though. The snow will go above your gaiters at times so gaiters alone will absolutely not cut it. You’d get very wet without them. It’s probably not a bad idea to bring snowshoes just in case. Like I said though, personally I wouldn’t have wanted to use them. All that said, with warmer weather and some sunshine this week and rain on Friday, I would think that while there will absolutely still be snow on the trail, it will be much less and a significantly more enjoyable hike by this weekend.

East Royce Trail also had some deeper snow (2-3ft at its deepest) in its upper parts. Like other trails, it was also undermined at times. Expect to posthole. One part where I briefly lost the trail as mentioned above. Unfortunately I can’t describe it very well.

One nice thing about all these trails that I was surprised to note was that there was no mud! Likely due to how steep they all are 😂 There was running water (minimal) down the short section of Royce Trail I was on and East Royce Trail though. Of course things got very wet by the end of my hike as it had been raining lightly for a couple of hours by that point. Taking my time, I didn’t find the ledges to be tricky coming down even when wet. There were some scrambles but as far as scrambles go they were pretty easy.

Things are steep enough at times that microspikes may be helpful. I found myself trying to kick steps at points on the upper portion of East Royce Trail.  
Name: Liam Cooney 
Date Submitted
Date Submitted: 2020-05-12 
Link: http:// 
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