Franklin County Highpoint Trip Report

Seward Mtn (4,361 ft)

Date: September 25, 2007
Author: Michael Schwartz

Conditions have changed somewhat since my 2004 ascent. Not long after starting on the trail, you reach a major junction where the horse trail continues right (actually straight ahead) and the foot trail turns left. For some reason, I suffered brain lock at this point and so Charlie Zerphy and I (having left our topos home, since I had already climbed Seward and "knew" the route) trotted down the horse trail, which is longer and far more strenuous. By the time we got part way up the Seward herd path, we were burned out and running late, so we got to try it all over again the next day after hiking twelve miles for nothing.

The foot path passes a wide grassy road about 1.2 miles out. Left is private property and right is the way to Calkins Brook and a western herd path route to the vicinity of the Seward-Donaldson col, from which the ridgeline herd path can be followed to Seward. Check SummitPost for some good reports on the Calkins Brook route, which sounds as if it may be easier and shorter than the Ward Brook route.

Continue another 3.5 miles to the Blueberry lean-to, and go another 0.3 mile to the start of the herd path, described in previous reports. Some kind souls have considerably improved the herd path since 2004. Now you follow it up on the left side of the stream for some distance, passing the worst of the bogs you will encounter, and then look for very obvious cairns marking an easy crossing to the right side. Reports on SummitPost state that the water in the stream is fit to drink, and Charlie did have a bottle of the same with no ill effects. The herd path steepens on the right side but is much better than the route I remember from 2004. Most of the blow-down has been sawed away and there are only a couple of bogs that can be easily bypassed. The route crosses back to the left side well up the mountain and stays on the left side until the slabby creek bed itself becomes the path on the very steep upper reaches of Seward. Bypass the headwall just below the summit ridge to the left and resist the urge to scramble up to the ridge until the headwall ends. Consider marking the spot where you gained the ridge. From there, it's about another ten minutes over a couple of bumps to the true summit, totally unmarked as it was three years ago. Views on this clear day were excellent.

We took a long time on the herd path, circa five hours, plus two hours each out-and-back on the foot trail, so the entire hike ran about twelve hours. Younger legs could lop 2-3 hours off our time.

I brought along three liters of Gatorade and wished for one more. We cached a liter each near the lean-to and, although they were disturbed, we think by chipmunks, there were intact when we returned.