Cumberland County High Point Trip Report

Date: November 12, 2000
Author: Roy Schweiker

With all the speed record discussion lately, I decided to create a new category "Longest Reasonable Ascent" that involves the longest ascent without crossing drive-able roads, taking same path more than once, etc. So this is not to be considered the most efficient route to this county highpoint.

I went up the Southwest Ridge Trail of Pleasant Mountain, one of the two longer hiking trails I had not previously used. To reach the trailhead, take US-302 east 5.4 miles from the easterly junction of 302/5 in Fryeburg, and turn R on Denmark Rd which starts off paved but turns to gravel. The gravel section is amply wide and not steep, but full of holes so don't count on driving too fast. Ignore side roads but 1.9 mi. from US-302 go R at a Y, then L at 2.3 mi. At 2.8 mi. turn L and park in former log yard opposite Fire Lane 78.

The trail starts as an unsigned woods road at the west end of the parking lot (there were no trail signs at any junction on this hike.) It is only moderately steep and only lightly eroded, and soon comes out on the first of several rock ledges with views mixed with scrub oak forest. Finally reached the first bump and could see a new communications tower on the next bump with the true summit beyond. Went on to second bump and couldn't find trail beyond so I took jeep road down from tower to foot of cone of true summit where it suddenly dropped off to the east. The trail circled the cone to the east and ended at the better-traveled trail from the SE, no sign but just a cairn. This trail climbs to the summit where there are some small radio facilities and a boarded-up fire tower, which I climbed halfway for 360-degree views although the same could probably be obtained by circling to various ledges. Mt. Washington was particularly notable for its snow cover. Descended fire warden's trail but I missed where ridge trail turns off so had to bushwhack back to ridge, adding time but probably not distance. Passed over three more bumps to area of CHP, at 4.7 miles from the start.

From the map it looks easy, follow trail 100 yds. down ridge to county line, but unfortunately there are difficulties:

* The trail does not follow the ridge exactly
* The county line is not marked
* There is a bump on the ridge maybe 100 yards east of the trail that
    may be higher than the line crossing depending on where it is.

Oh well, I climbed the bump and bushwhacked the ridge (easy in sparse softwoods) and somewhere touched the CHP if it is where the map shows it. If it is really 0.1 mi. north, it would run roughly parallel to and part way down a cliff face, talk about a location for trying to walk a grid!

Followed the ridge trail back over the bumps, met a guy who was having trouble controlling his dog as he was talking on a cell phone at the same time. He said he rarely saw people on this hike but the good weather had brought out the hordes. Reentered the fire wardens trail at a cairn at what looked like a drainage ditch and turned downhill, this was another trail I had yet to hike. This section was miserable hiking downhill on a wet woods road often eroded down to slippery bedrock with the woods on both sides cut over, but halfway down the trail entered the main logging road which was gravel. Of course from the trailhead I still had to walk 1.7 miles back to my car, for a total down distance of 5.6 miles. (Distance up the ski trail is about 1.5 miles.)