Carroll County High Point Trip Report

on county line 100' south of USGS BM Sandwich Dome (3,960+ ft)

Date: July 9, 2001
Author: Michael Schwartz

From exit 28 on I-93, take NH 49 generally northeast for about ten miles to a large parking area on the right (southeast) side of the road. This parking area is the trailhead for several trails. Note the "iron ranger" self-payment station at the parking lot. This area is within the White Mountain National Forest, and a $3 daily parking fee is required. Use the self-explanatory envelopes and bring exact change. Weekly permits can be purchased at visitor stations at exits 23 and 28, just off I-93. At this point, make a decision whether to take the 4.4 mile (one-way) Drakes Brook Trail, or the shorter, steeper Sandwich Mountain trail, which may be as much as 3/4 mile shorter each way. Fred Lobdell ascended the Sandwich Mountain Trail, but descended via Drakes Brook, which he felt might make for a quicker hike. I used Drakes Brook both ways, but would probably choose the up-Sandwich, down-Drakes loop on future hikes. Black flies were quite pesky, and might be miserable in peak season.

The Drakes Brook Trail, with occasional yellow blazes, leaves the parking area from the north side and follows an old logging road. Just past a signed turnoff for the Fletcher Cascade Trail, the road/trail turns hard right and crosses Drakes Brook. Fred reported crossing on a bridge, but there is no trace of it now. The crossing requires rock-hopping, and would be a real problem during high water. The trail now follows the left bank of the brook uphill for about two miles before climbing several switchbacks to a junction with the Sandwich Mountain Trail. Turn left, and soon pass a spur trail on the right leading in 0.2 miles to Jennings Peak, from which Fred reported excellent views. Continue on the Sandwich Mountain Trail, still yellow-blazed, and reach the summit of Sandwich Mountain, 4.4 miles from the trailhead and 2600 feet higher. I forgot to take a picture, and cannot remember whether I found the Sandwich Dome benchmark. At this point, you need to bushwhack south for 100-200 feet, staying on the highest ground possible, to ensure passing over the line Carroll County highpoint. I took the south-trending, blue-blazed Greenstreet Trail about 100 feet, and when it started to bear sharply east, used a slight opening in the thick spruce to bushwhack south, staying on high ground. This soon led to an open ledge with a great open view to the south, below which the ground fell off very steeply. I felt this was far enough south to have crossed the county line. Do the best you can. Allow four hours round trip.

There are other trails to the summit, probably longer. I read a report on one web site that described the Smarts Brook Trail as "very beautiful," which would be an improvement over the viewless approach described above.