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Trail Conditions

Trip Log


Mt. Paugus (South Peak), NH, Mt. Paugus, NH
Albany, NH

Trailheads, measurements, times, distances, and maps are all approximate and relative to the hike(s) as shown below.
Looking up the Old Paugus Trail
Looking up the Old Paugus Trail

Route: Paugus Road, Old Paugus Trail, (Mt. Paugus South Peak), Old Paugus Trail, herd path, bushwhack, (Mt. Paugus), bushwhack, herd path, Old Paugus Trail, Bee Line Trail, Bee Line Cutoff, Bolles Trail, Paugus Road

Other than Mt. Chocorua, Mt. Paugus is probably the mountain I see the most in my travels. As such, I've been meaning to hike it for a long time, but had only made one actual attempt (which was cut short due to a massive mosquito ambush). With a forecast that seemed to be evolving into a less than ideal one, I decided to shift my plans from going north to doing something local.

The first portion of the hike, on flat woods roads essentially, went by fairly quickly, thanks in part to the brisk morning temperatures. While not peak, the foliage was nonetheless colorful. At one point, I found a signed intersection to be confusing, as it had a mess of arrows, but none on the Old Paugus Trail section. Fortunately I had a map with me to help clarify.

While the water crossings were certainly rumbling, they all had decent stepping stones.

Finally, after passing many trail junctions, I was on the Old Paugus Trail proper and soon ascending a quasi-steep quasi-rock slide. This section of trail seems to be lightly used.

The trail continued to ascend somewhat steeply in places, soon passing the Bee Line Trail junction and some great foliage color.

Above that junction, there was a fairly slippery ledge which required care to get up (and later go back down). Above that, the trail soon levelled out a bit, before dipping down, crossing a small creek, then ascending steeply (slightly scrambles in places) to the top of the south peak of Mt. Paugus.

While it was a nice, open ledgy area, the views weren't as spectacular as I had hoped due to trees creeping up - nearby Wonalancet Hedgehog has much better views from its vistas in my opinion. Nonetheless, the scenery was still pretty good (though clouds were overtaking the area). Sights to be seen ranged from Mt. Passaconaway to the Green Mountain area from the summit, with a Mt. Chocorua vista nearby.

After having lunch, I decided to check out the main peak. Getting a visual bearing from the south peak, I descended to the creek crossing and then followed a herd path of sorts (which I assume went to the former Old Shag Shelter) along the side of a marsh and into a mossy forest.

From here, the herd path disappeared. I decided to go straight up the southeast ledges - mistake. While climbing up them wasn't overly challenging, what I encounted at the top was - thick spruce with tons of blowdowns. A few times I was nearly stuck due to the thickness. Not enjoyable.

After seemingly forever, I soon reached a height of land. Looking for a summit jar, I bushwhacked up and down the knob, which looked to me to be the highpoint. While I didn't find the jar, I did locate a tree that hosted the previous summit log (there was string tied around it, with bark growing around the string, and remnants of a ziplock bag at the end of the string). While it was a bit of a let down to not find the jar, I was glad to have finally reached the high point of this peak.

Since there was no way in heck I was going to go through that same spruce mess on the descent, I pulled out my compass for the first time to check my mental bearing (dead on, surprisingly!), and then set an eastern route for an, at first, easy bushwhack. After dropping down a bit, I altered my course to go southeast. Soon I saw some ledge to my right, and thus took a brief detour. This open ledge featured tremendous views of Mt. Chocorua, Green Mountain, and part of the Ossipees - a much better vista than those on the south peak.

While I pondered continuing around the ridge from this ledge, I didn't want to reach spruce hell again. Thus, I went back to my previous route and found a somewhat open slope to descend down to the bottom of the ledgy area. After this, I first made the mistake of trying to reach some hardwood trees I saw from the ledge. This led me into another really thick spruce area.

Realizing my mistake, I bushwhacked back to the base of the cliff and stayed fairly close to it - this proved to be a good strategy and would likely be the one I'd pursue if I ever decided to return to this peak. Soon, I was back to the mossy woods and just a bit above the marsh, about 30 feet east of where I was aiming for.

Back on the trail, I took a break on a view ledge above the Bee Line Trail junction so that I could get rid of the hoard of spruce needles I had acquired.

To mix things up, I decided to head down the Bee Line Trail, which proved to be steep but direct. From there, I took the Bee Line Cutoff to the Bolles Trail, and made my way back to the parking lot, stopping briefly at the massive pile of sawdust near the Paugus Mill site. I also pondered stealing the wooden arrow signs (just kidding) to see if I could get some money out of the provision in the recent Federal economic bail out bill.

While I was only the second person to park when I started, the entire lot was full upon returning (interestingly enough, I didn't see a single person during the entire hike). At this point it was nearly completely overcast. Nonetheless, a decent hike.

Hike Ratings
Getting To Trailhead: Easy
Destination: Mt. Paugus (South Peak)
Length: Moderate
Steepness: Difficult
Navigation: Easy
Views: Excellent
Crowds: Minimal

Hike Stats
Date Hiked: Sunday, October 5, 2008
Hike Commenced: 8:04 AM
Parking Elevation: 900'
Destination: Mt. Paugus (South Peak)
Ascent Commenced: 8:04 AM
Summit Reached: 9:49 AM
Time Elapsed: 01:45
Trailhead Elevation: 900'
Summit Elevation: 3,100'
Vertical Gain: 2,300'
Destination: Mt. Paugus
Ascent Commenced: 10:08 AM
Summit Reached: 10:49 AM
Time Elapsed: 00:41
Trailhead Elevation: 3,100'
Summit Elevation: 3,198'
Vertical Gain: 278'
Hike Ended: 1:32 PM
Hike Time Elapsed: 05:28
Hike Vertical Gain: 2,708'

The Paugus Trail trailhead at the Paugus Mill parking area
The Paugus Trail trailhead at the Paugus Mill parking area

Looking at Kearsarge Mountain from the south peak of Mt. Paugus - Click to enlarge
Looking at Kearsarge Mountain from the south peak of Mt. Paugus

The woods near the end of the herd path near the Old Shag Shelter location
The woods near the end of the herd path near the Old Shag Shelter location

Looking at Mt. Chocorua summit from the southeast ledges of the main peak of Mt. Paugus - Click to enlarge
Looking at Mt. Chocorua summit from the southeast ledges of the main peak of Mt. Paugus

Directions to trailhead: From Route 25, take Route 113 East to Tamworth. At the four way intersection next to the village, go straight onto 113A. Continue a few minutes, taking a right onto Fowler's Mill Road. A few minutes later, take a left onto Paugus Road. The WMNF fee parking area is at the end of this road.

Back to Mt. Paugus (South Peak) Profile
Back to Mt. Paugus Profile

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