Hiking Trail Conditions Report
Peaks Little Sugarloaf, Sugarloaf, Bear Mountain, Mowglis Mountain, Firescrew, Mt. Cardigan, NH
Trails: Elwell Trail, Mowglis Trail, Clark Trail, Holt-Clark Cutoff (Cathedral Forest Trail), Holt Trail, Manning Trail
Date of Hike
Date of Hike: Thursday, May 17, 2018
Parking/Access Road Notes
Parking/Access Road Notes: Plenty of parking at the Elwell Trail trailhead across from Wellington State Park, and also at the AMC Cardigan Lodge. 
Surface Conditions
Surface Conditions: Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Mud - Minor/Avoidable 
Recommended Equipment
Recommended Equipment:  
Water Crossing Notes
Water Crossing Notes: Not an issue -- water levels are a bit low, to be honest. 
Trail Maintenance Notes
Trail Maintenance Notes: Overall, Elwell Trail is in decent shape, except for the area near the powerline cut (noted below in the comments section), and the section between the Carter-Gibbs Trail and Mowglis Mountain. Mowglis Trail is in very good shape, as well, with just a very light bit of brushing needed in a couple of areas and a medium-sized walk-around blowdown about 75 yards west of the intersection with the Elwell Trail. Other trails are in decent shape, too -- Cathedral Forest Trail (Holt-Clark Cutoff) has some recent rock work and drainage work. Other specific items about the Elwell Trail:

1. Elwell Trail from Wellington trailhead to Sugarloaf -- in good shape.

2. From Sugarloaf to Bear Mountain -- some deadfall/minor debris to clear; we cleared as much as possible. Note that there's still a bit of handsaw-able deadfall on the tricky scramble (west) up to Bear Mountain. Also, some brushing is needed between Sugarloaf and the Old Alexandria-Hebron Turnpike.

3. From Bear Mountain to 2016 logged section -- some deadfall/minor debris to clear; we cleared as much as possible, but a few pieces we left require a hand saw and bit more time than we had.

4. Power line cut needs brushing (raspberry canes; vines); footbed could be difficult to follow.

5. From 2016 logged section to intersection with Oregon Mountain Trail -- some deadfall/minor debris to clear; we cleared as much as possible, but a few pieces we left require a hand saw and bit more time than we had.

6. From intersection with Oregon Mountain Trail to Carter-Gibbs Trail -- in great shape.

7. From intersection with Carter-Gibbs Trail to Mowglis Mountain -- this section doesn't appear to have been maintained in the past 2-3 years. There are still a few large duck-under blowdowns would benefit from chainsawing. There are a number of small hand-sawable blowdowns, and quite a bit of deadfall -- just needs some time/attention. Some sections need hobblebush brushing, as well as clearing of softwood saplings that are growing into the corridor.

8. From Mowglis Mountain to intersection with Mowglis Trail -- this section is in good shape, with just a few new blowdowns to contend with (including one that requires a short re-route through some small saplings), minor brushing, and also the large duck-under blowdown that's been on the trail just west of the intersection with the Back 80 Trail. 
Dog-Related Notes
Dog-Related Notes:  
Bugs: A few mosquitoes and black flies in the parking area near Wellington, as well as at the AMC Cardigan Lodge -- but nowhere else. 
Lost and Found
Lost and Found:  
Comments: We try to do this Elwell traverse (with Firescrew and Cardigan tacked on, for good measure, with car spot) at least once a year, but missed it last year. In the process, we didn't see the full extent of the late fall/early winter 2016 logging operation on a ~mile section of the Elwell Trail, near the powerline cut (between Bear and Oregon Mountains) and where the Welton Falls Trail (North) intersects.

The Welton Falls Trail (North), although re-opened several years ago, was pretty much rendered impassable by this new logging; the same operation has made sections of the Elwell Trail difficult to follow. We know the trail very well, so were able to locate most of it, but some sections in this area are obscured by wild vine/raspberry cane understory encouraged because the forest canopy has been opened up. In addition, there are a number of "collateral damage" large trees knocked down over the corridor by the logging, and these will need some time/effort to clear.

The one saving grace is that the loggers left enough blazed trees standing to more or less pick out the trail. Also left in place was the signpost marking the intersection of the Elwell Trail and Welton Falls Trail (North), so that's helpful.

This section of the trail has been logged before and grown back -- old skid paths from a decade ago on nearby sections of trail have filled in nicely. But, for now, be ready to spend a bit of extra time on this section for the next few years.

A nice hike,though, on a cool day -- the breeze kept the bugs away, too. Plenty of ladyslipper and bunchberry in bloom; very pretty.

We saw just five people all day, three on Firescrew and two on Cardigan.

Without our usual stop on Oregon Mountain, today's trek was about 15 miles, with 5200+ feet of elevation gain.  
Name: Pancks and Tesco Heaney 
Date Submitted
Date Submitted: 2018-05-29 
Link: http:// 
Bookmark and Share Disclaimer: Reports are not verified - conditions may vary. Use at own risk. Always be prepared when hiking. Observe all signs. Trail conditions reports are not substitutes for weather reports or common sense.

Copyright 2009-2019, All Rights Reserved