Friday, January 11, 2013

Hiking Smart's Brook in Winter

Smarts Brook Area
Thornton, Waterville Valley, Sandwich, NH
Hike, Snowshoe, Cross Country

The Smart’s Brook Ski Touring Trail System is an easy back country opportunity worth checking out.  Five scenic and challenging interconnecting trails make up the System. They vary in length from 0.7 miles to 2.5 miles and are designated by the Forest Service for use by intermediate and advanced skiers. The trails follow old roadways which were reconstructed by the Forest Service Young Adult Conservation Corps in 1979. Some of the trails are designated for one-way travel. Skiers should consider this when planning their trips. Difficulty rating signs are posted at each trail junction.
Forest harvest cuts may be observed along the trails. These harvests have been made to provide timber and manage habitat for wildlife. Future timber harvests planned for the area will not adversely affect the ski touring system.

The Smarts Brook Parking Area is 5.5 miles east of I-93, Exit 28 on NH Route 49. Parking is available for about 15 cars.There is a second access to this area at the High Brook Picnic Area about three miles further on Rte 49.
Pine Flat Trail: For a short and very satisfying hike when you only have a short time available, hike in on the Pine Flats trail about .5 miles to the Smart’s Brook Gorge. The stunningly beautiful ice falls vary in color from various mineral components exposed during the erosion of the gorge and present in the soil above the cliffs. If you go on skis you will have to plan a longer trek because Pine Flat trail is one way for skiers.

If you shoose to continue on from the Ice Falls area, the trail follows the Gorge and then climbs .2 mile to another moderately steep, short uphill section. Once on top, the trail levels out onto a flat area and then meanders through a beautiful stand of red pine from which the trail derives its name. The trail then intersects with the Old Waterville Road and Yellow jacket Trails where you will find the most challenging part of the terrain: a steep, curvy downhill section with a dip and short, steep uphill section near the trail's end. You can take the Old Waterville Road Trail back to the parking area by continuing south.

Yellow Jacket Ski Trail: According to the US Forest Service, the trail's name was derived from an encounter with yellow jacket bees during its construction. The trail is 1.2 miles in length and diverges from the Old Waterville Road and Pine Flat Trails bearing southeast along an old road climbing gradually to a view of Bald Knob. From here to its final intersection with Smart’s Brook Trail the terrain is challenging with several downhill sections and some fairly sharp turns in including a final one that puts you on a bridge over the brook and then onto the Smart’s Brook Trail .

Tritown Ski Trail:
The Tritown Ski Trail passes through the towns of Sandwich, Waterville Valley and Thornton. It is the most difficult of the trails in this region and offers the best vistas. To reach Tritown follow the Smarts Brook Trail about 1.3 miles from the Smarts Brook Parking Area and bear west in the trail where you will face a sharp climb to a ridge followed by a moderate decent with several sharp turns. At about 1.1 miles from the Junction where you left Smart’s Brook Trail to take Tritown you will again rejoin the Smarts Brook Trail.

Old Waterville Road Ski Trail:
Old Waterville Road Ski Trail  is approximately 2.5 miles in length. You can hike or snow shoe this trail from either of the starting points noted but skiers must begin at High Brook.

To take this trail to the High Brook Picnic area follow the Pine Flat Trail for about .2 mile where the trail diverges left  and proceeds northwest, The trail follows Route 49 closely at times and then diverges away following the route that at one time was the main road into Waterville Valley.

Skill Levels:

Hikers: beginners to advanced
Snow Shoers: beginners to advanced
Cross Country Skiers: Intermediate to advanced

Smart's Brook Mindscape No 1
© Wayne D. King
Purchase this image on a Card here.
Fine Art Print here.

Other images from Smart's Brook
© Wayne D. King

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