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Trail Conditions

Trip Log


Mt. Willey
Hart's Location, NH, Bethlehem, NH

Trailheads, measurements, times, distances, and maps are all approximate and relative to the hike(s) as shown below.
The infamous stairs up the Willey Range Trail
The infamous stairs up the Willey Range Trail

Route: Kedron Flume Trail, Ethan Pond Trail, Willey Range Trail, (Mt. Willey), Willey Range Trail, Ethan Pond Trail, Kedron Flume Trail

Mt. Willey is considered by many to be one of the easiest New Hampshire 4,000 footers - often called a 'gimme' since it's only just a bit over a mile from Mt. Field. I hiked Mt. Tom and Mt. Field back in June and had to retreat like the French military before heading to Mt. Willey due to an unforecasted AM hail storm.

Since I didn't want to do too much hiking after sunset, I decided to ascend Mt. Willey from the Willey House (instead of via Mt. Field, requiring more mileage).

The Kedron Flume Trail is rather tame until it crosses the railroad tracks (a short steep ascent just after the trails), and in general tame all the way to the flume. The flume is somewhat neat - there's a limited view into the valley, but the creek is shaded by a lot of tree cover. I saw the only two people I'd see the entire afternoon/evening here.

The trail gets steep shortly after this - tricky because there was a lot of mud that looked to be freshly washed down the trail from Saturday night's rough thunderstorms.

The Kedron Flume Trail meets the Ethan Pond Trail after curving around to be parallel to it (not shown on the topo maps) for a short stretch. I have seen various comments written online about the Kedron Flume trail being hard to find from the Ethan Pond Trail - this is because the sign for it is missing. There is, however, still a sign on the signpost pointing on the Ethan Pond Trail segments which would otherwise be pointless in the middle of nowhere, so that's the hint (the Kedron Flume Trail literally goes down behind this sign).

The Ethan Pond Trail was a nice, gradual break. The beginning of the Willey Range Trail was also rather gradual, before the stairs start anyways.

I've read a lot about the 'ladders' up this trail. In my opinion, the wood structures on Mt. Morgan are ladders - these are stairs. They consist of logs with treads and a pitch roughly that of a normal household stairway - add a railing and there's no doubt. Anyways, they do come in handy, as the terrain is rather gnarley. They really aren't too bad (going down them in the winter would be a different story for sure), other than the top one which is a bit steeper, looks down the entire set, has a view into the valley, and rattles a bit with movement.

I was hoping I'd be close to the top after clearing the stairs - nope! There was still a decent amount of hiking left - much of it steep and rocky.

The summit as anti-climatic at first - limited views just before and just after the summit from the trail. I then went down a little herd path that looked like "CUTLCOR" (looking at the photo later, I realized it actually said "OUTLOOK"). The view from here is amazing - from Mt. Washington to Mt. Carrigain and beyond. Between the visibility (temperatures were in the upper 60s, maybe lower 70s by now) and the shadows (just about an hour and a half before sunset), the colors were great - the photos don't do them justice.

Just as a I was packing up, I realized I had some visitors - some grey jays if I'm not mistaken - obviously attracted by the sound of my backpack opening up. I made a deal with them and traded some trailmix for photo ops.

The descent consisted of Nick Drake's Pink Moon and Moby's Play The B-Sides - played at the lowest volume possible so that I could still hear my surroundings, but also have the monotony of retracing my steps in the dark reduced. A very nice hike.

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

Hike Stats
Date Hiked: Monday, August 27, 2007
Hike Commenced: 4:13 PM
Parking Elevation: 1,310'
Destination: Mt. Willey
Ascent Commenced: 4:14 PM
Summit Reached: 5:51 PM
Time Elapsed: 01:37
Trailhead Elevation: 1,325'
Summit Elevation: 4,285'
Distance: 2.7 miles
Vertical Gain: 3,030'
Hike Ended: 7:46 PM
Hike Time Elapsed: 03:33
Hike Vertical Gain: 3,110'

Kedron Flume Trail trailhead next to the Willey House
Kedron Flume Trail trailhead next to the Willey House

Looking southwest from Mt. Willey - Click to enlarge
Looking southwest from Mt. Willey

Looking northeast at Mt. Washington from Mt. Willey

Topographic map of Mt. Willey - Click to enlarge

Directions to trailhead: Take 302 west from Bartlett to the Willey House. There's parking on both sides of 302. The trailhead is located uphill, next to the house.

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