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Trail Conditions

Trip Log


Mt. Isolation
Jackson, NH, Sargents Purchase, NH, Cutts Grant, NH

Trailheads, measurements, times, distances, and maps are all approximate and relative to the hike(s) as shown below.
The Engine Hill bushwhack
The Engine Hill bushwhack

Route: Rocky Branch Trail, (Engine Hill bushwhack), Isolation Trail, (bushwhack), Davis Path, Isolation Spur, (Mt. Isolation), Isolation Spur, Davis Path, (bushwhack), Isolation Trail, (Engine Hill bushwhack), Rocky Branch Trail

All others were booting today (earlier hikers left behind postholes, including some deep ones multiple feet down into mud and pooled water), but I found snowshoes to be the best option. In the very least, snowshoes need to be carried, as the snowpack is very deep and this route is off trail for awhile; a change in weather or conditions could strand a barebooter due to the depth.

Snowpack is initially 1-2 feet on Rocky Branch, with a few short open areas from perks. The snowpack is closer to 3-4 feet by the height of land. The height of land is a bit vexing, as the trail is pooled water, requiring some bushwhacking through hobblebush. Some deep postholes here.

The bushwhack through Engine Hill is...interesting. The initial route goes through multiple mudpits. Soon thereafter, there's a split...I have no clue where uphill (right) goes. Downhill (left) holds about 3,200 feet, with some diverging tracks around a mooseyard. Then, suddenly, it drops downhill 200 vertical feet to the trail. On the return trip, I tried to cut this off, but didn't care for the route. Not great bushwhacking today due to the softer snow. In prior winters, I tend to favor a higher elevation for this bushwhack to get away from the muck.

Isolation had some mucky areas around the brooks. Higher up, the packed route deviates from the trail near the ridge. Prior to the campsite, I took the short bushwhack avoiding that uphill; quick and to the point, but too soft to bareboot.

Davis Path had some blowdown resulting in a herd path or two; I cut these out and brushed in the herd path. The actual trail in those short stretches is obviously not packed for barebooting. Brushier than normal, as the snowpack has one up higher in the trees. Did note that a barebooter went in deep in one of the hidden mud pits today. The Isolation Spur is well filled in with snow.

Mild weather, snowpack, and partly sunny skies made it feel like March.

Hike Ratings
Getting To Trailhead: Easy
Destination: Mt. Isolation
Length: Difficult
Steepness: Difficult
Navigation: Difficult
Views: Excellent
Crowds: Minimal

Hike Stats
Date Hiked: Saturday, December 15, 2018
Parking Elevation: 1,260'
Destination: Mt. Isolation
Time Elapsed: 03:13
Trailhead Elevation: 1,260'
Summit Elevation: 4,004'
Vertical Gain: 3,234'
Hike Time Elapsed: 06:20
Hike Vertical Gain: 3,524'

The Rocky Branch Trail trailhead
The Rocky Branch Trail trailhead

Looking at the Baldfaces from Mt. Isolation - Click to enlarge
Looking at the Baldfaces from Mt. Isolation

Directions to trailhead: Take Route 16 North from the Route 302-16 junction in Glen. A few minutes having passing Jackson and just before 16 starts to climb to Pinkham Notch, the Rocky Branch parking lot will be on the left. The Rocky Branch Trail trailhead is at the north side of the parking lot.

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