Hiking Trail Conditions Report
Peaks Scar Ridge - Southeast Peak, Scar Ridge - East Peak, Scar Ridge - Middle Peak, Scar Ridge - West Peak, Black Mountain, Loon Mountain - North Peak, NH
Trails: East Pond Trail, bushwhack, herd paths, ski trails
Date of Hike
Date of Hike: Friday, May 20, 2022
Parking/Access Road Notes
Parking/Access Road Notes: We spotted a car at the Loon lot at 6:30am. Plenty of room there. We drove over to the East Pond Lot on the Kanc which has room for close to a dozen cars but I doubt ever fills up. One other car arrived as we were about to start around 7am.  
Surface Conditions
Surface Conditions: Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant 
Recommended Equipment
Recommended Equipment:  
Water Crossing Notes
Water Crossing Notes: The crossing of Pine Brook on East Pond Trail was barely possible to do with dry feet in trail runners. Poles definitely helped. The crossing of Cheney Brook a little further up was a bit easier but still difficult to do with dry feet. Nothing dangerous at all though.  
Trail Maintenance Notes
Trail Maintenance Notes: East Pond Trail isn’t hard to follow but it’s blazing is somewhat old/faded and is infrequent. I don’t recall any blowdowns but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t any. 
Dog-Related Notes
Dog-Related Notes: We had one dog with us. East Pond Trail is a good trail for dogs. The whack up to East Scar and such was a bit hard at times for him just given how thick it was.  
Bugs: Surprisingly, not bad. They didn’t come out until the afternoon around the time we got to Black Mtn around 3pm or so I think.  
Lost and Found
Lost and Found: We actually found a few wrappers and such on the bushwhack. Definite signs that others have been here! And, of course, lots more trash on the ski trails. Also carried out the canister that was on the eastern summit of West Scar and is not recognized. Also, my friend lost a gaiter somewhere between the east peak of West Scar and West Scar  
Comments: Day 201, Peak 191-195. The peaks that count toward the 500 highest are east, middle, and west Scar Ridge, and Black and Loon North. I knew that this would be a long and likely hellish one so I was thrilled to have the company of three friends up to East Peak and one friend for the entire traverse. That said, as you’ll see below, this whack wasn’t anywhere near as difficult or thick as I thought it would be. Most of it was quite pleasant indeed!

We walked up East Pond Trail from the Kanc which was still wet from the rain the day before. Rocks on trail were actually quite slick. Water crossings weren’t dangerous but were a little difficult with dry feet. Nice to revisit this trail as it was my first ever intentional redline and it had been a few years :)

From the HOL, we whacked NW toward Southeast Scar Ridge. We’d heard something about how this peak may actually be taller than East Peak (claimed one guy) and you should probably visit both. Since it was hardly out of the way, we went for it. Open woods for a short way in the flat col but as you begin the steep ascent up around 3200ft, it becomes very steep and very thick. Thick but not horrible for a ways, then got awful at about 3300ft. Didn’t notice at the time, but Gaia actually shows a discoloring here which normally means something like a slide. Definitely not slide here but we had to scramble our way up through moss covered boulders. Lots of pulling ourselves up by tree trunks and, to make matters worse, the woods were still very wet from the day before. Some of us used gloves to keep our hands warm! Just above 3400ft, things eased up a little and it looked like we might have a view off to our left. Two of us checked it out and you got a cool view across the HOL to West Osceola with East Peak behind. You could also see the very beautifully colored East Pond down to the right. Also views to Tecumseh, Kancamagus, and Huntington though restricted.

From here to the summit of SE peak was more gradual and open. Highpoint was not recognized. We took a bearing to East Peak and headed to the col. Decently open woods to the col, then it thickened up on the col and became unpleasant. Thick then became sprucey as we ascended East Peak. Very slow going. Trust the red dot on CalTopo. That’s where the highpoint and register are. You’ll think you’re at it and that you’re going down but you go back up again. We signed in and two of us returned to the HOL and back to their cars while the other two of us trudged onward. The two that slabbed down back to the HOL said that their descent was not any better than our ascent. If anything, it was worse…which is really saying something because our ascent was pretty awful.

Good news is that beyond this point our hike was relatively easy! We headed toward Middle East Peak. Semi-open woods there. We’d heard that the ridge would be awful and that staying to the north side would help but the ridge itself wasn’t bad at all so we usually stayed right on it. The col between Middle and Middle East was actually so open it looked like a camping area. Middle East Peak not recognized. There’s a small knob north of Middle East Peak. When he hit this, we had a view of Middle Peak which looked kind of daunting. Descending from here it was briefly thick but things soon opened up again. We stayed just north of the col and headed up Middle Peak. Steep ascent at times but not as bad as the previous view made it look and not really thick.

Descent to col of Middle and West was fine. We hit some thick stuff heading up to the summit ridge of West. Once we hit the summit ridge, things opened up but we also found some blowdown patches. Not hard to stay away from though. We soon came to the east summit of west peak where Rick found a canister on the ground. Since it’s not the recognized peak, it was on the ground, and we couldn’t open it, I carried it out. Hope no one minds. Between here and the true summit of West Peak we found some small remnants of snow. We came in quick order to the summit of West Peak. Big blowdown patch next to it but no need to go in it. We signed in and noted a herd path which we followed.

We’d heard that there was a herd path between Loon and/or Black and West Peak and hoped this was it! We found occasional orange flagging but it was hard to stay on the path. In my opinion, it was hard to tell if it was a legit herd path or just enough human traffic that herd paths have started to form in many places. In any case, woods were open so no matter so long as we headed NW. Our day was going so well that we decided to bag Black Mtn too once we reached the col. We searched for a herd path by a small pond hearing that there was one to Black but not finding much though we saw some flagging. We meandered a bit then soon found very consistent pink flagging but that was taking us down into into the drainage 90 degrees east of our north bearing to Black. VERY curious as to where this goes. Only thing remotely close to this is Scsr Ridge Slide. Maybe a path for skiers?? We headed back to the true ridge, found a herd path and followed it toward Black, passing a great view to Scar Ridge Slide. Some PUDs along this ridge and the herd path mostly fiddles out in the col. Steep ascent up Black. We were wiped! Easy to find canister.

We headed SW off the summit a short ways to avoid some steeper and thicker stuff on Black for just a couple hundred feet, then contoured back to the ridge. We followed this herd path ALL the way to the ski trails just below the summit Loon. This path became increasingly well-defined as we got further away from Black. Furthermore, it was very gentle which was much needed after the ascent of Black. A big pile of snow we got to cross (without postholing!) at the ski area. We walked up to the top of the ski area and over to North Loon. We entered the woods in a likely spot and found a rough herd path to the summit which is a rock ledge with a little view. We returned to the top of the ski area and descended the ski trails very steeply. Killer on the knees especially without poles. Got better once we were down low. Nice views!

Gaia had us at about 12.5mi, 3500ft I’d gain, taking us just under 11hrs. 2mi, 650ft, and probably 1.5hrs of that was adding Black Mtn though. 164 more days and 170 more peaks to go…  
Name: Liam Cooney 
Date Submitted
Date Submitted: 2022-05-21 
Link: https:// 
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