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Mighty Mt. Meader May 19, 2009

Posted by Jenny in hiking, White Mountains.
Tags: , , , ,
View across the Basin from shoulder of Mt. Meader

View across the Basin from shoulder of Mt. Meader

Click on photos for better view.

I was looking for a hike I hadn’t done before, and one where I wouldn’t get bogged down in any lingering old snow in the evergreen zone—the infamous “monorail” of packed-down snow created by heavy winter hiking traffic. Trip reports said some spots still had that problem even as of May 15.  So I came up with a 10-mile loop with about 2700 feet of elevation gain in the Evans Notch area, a place I have taken a great liking to.

I knew from the reports that the Baldface Circle loop was free of snow, but—“been there, done that.”  My loop was just north of that.  I left my car at the Baldface Circle parking lot on Rt. 113 and walked a half mile up the road to the Mt. Meader trail.  Up to Mt. Meader, south on the Meader Ridge trail, and then down on the north part of the Baldface Circle trail.  I hadn’t been sure which direction I was going to do my loop, but in the parking lot as I was getting my gear ready, a pair of guys was preparing to set forth as well, and one of them was a talkative fellow who had an extremely loud voice that seemed to be going nonstop.  Nice guy, I’m sure, but the thought of hearing that voice at least as far as the trail split helped me decide.  I set off up the road, with the guys about 30 seconds behind me, and I figure they must have wondered where the heck I was going as they turned off to go up the loop.

I started seeing flowers right up from the Mt. Meader trailhead.  First there 100_0736were anemones and twinflowers, then violets.  The trail was an old logging road for a while that followed Mill Brook.  I enjoyed the sight of ferns starting to unfold. 100_0739 The climb was gradual until about 1600 feet, when the trail started to switchback and then hit a section where it went straight up.  At about 2300 feet I hit an open ledgy area that had views over to the Baldfaces.


I continued climbing past open ledges with clumps of serviceberry in bloom.

100_0742Finally I reached the shoulder of Meader with views to the north and east, and then started along the Meader Ridge trail.  I passed over the true summit of Meader (a mighty 2782 feet in elevation) and came to a side trail marked “View.”  Why not, I thought, and went to see the view.  However, once I climbed up to the open view ledge, I could see that the spruces had grown up, and the views (toward the west) weren’t that great.  In fact, somebody had painted the word “END” on the ledge so that people wouldn’t continue on and on, hoping to get a better view.  I thought that was funny!

Meaning, you can stop looking for a better view!

Meaning, you can stop looking for a better view!

It was not long after the “View” that I encountered the only hikers I saw on my loop.  I was surprised to see anyone on the Meader Ridge trail, especially on a Monday.  They asked me about my route up and down and what the conditions were on the way up.  “No snow,” I said, wondering what conditions they were concerned about.  They said they were looking for an easier way down.  They had come up the “headwall,” they said, and hadn’t liked it.  I figured they must be talking about the stretch on South Baldface that involves a slightly difficult scramble.  I said, “It’s nothing like South Baldface.”  They told me to be very careful, as they’d found the ledges to be steep and slippery.  After they went on their way, I found myself slightly distracted: I’d told them I was going down at Eagle Crag.  Did they misunderstand and think I was going down from South Baldface?  Or had they in fact come up the route I was planning to take down, and found it surprisingly difficult?  I scratched my head and continued on.  Shortly before I reached Eagle Crag, I saw some interesting boulders and noticed that patches of snow were visible on the side of  Boott Spur.

100_0752I had my Irving convenience store sandwich on Eagle Crag.  I like the fact that this spot is a four-way junction with connections into the Wild River valley as well as the valley south of Evans Notch.  I then dropped down the Baldface Circle trail, wondering if indeed this was the way the couple I’d met had come up and if I would soon reach a “headwall.”  It was a bit awkward going down the first couple 100 feet, but there was nothing that I would call a “headwall.”  Soon I was off the steeps and enjoyed wending my way through the forest.  The new leaves unfolding everywhere and the plants poking up from the ground, some still curled up like furled umbrellas, all spoke of spring, spring, spring!

Lower down I got back into trilliums as well as clusters of twinflowers, and wound down into the valley of Charles100_0741 Brook.  Toward the bottom I saw a lady-slipper that hadn’t quite opened yet.  A very enjoyable hike.  I had barely cracked the 3000-foot elevation level (on the top of Eagle Crag, elev. 3030), but after all, my starting elevation was only 500 feet.  I look forward to continuing my explorations of the more obscure corners of Evans Notch.



1. Heather - May 19, 2009

Loved the information and this looks like a great hike. It was also commical to read. Happy trails!


2. Jenny - May 19, 2009

Glad you enjoyed it!

3. DaffodilPlanter - May 23, 2009

Delightful story and photos!

4. mike d - May 24, 2009

Sounds like a nice hike. Believe it or not I have never done the Baldfaces, or much else in that area.

Last Thur did a White Mt. biatholon. I biked from the visitor center at Rt 49 and 93 to the Welsch-Dickey trailhead where I earlier stashed my boots and extra water in the woods and left the bike. I then did the loop over W-D having the whole place to myself. Back down, I picked up the bike, bike shoes, and extra water bottle in my pack and biked down to the Visitor Center.

The total bike portion is 14 miles rt, 680 vertical and the hike 4.4 1850′ and I did it all in 4:14:00 (not including a 15 minute lunch stop on the peak). The tougest park is biking up that first stretch of the Mad River Road!

5. Jenny - May 24, 2009

I like the idea of that way of combining hike and bike—just have to plan it the way you did, so that you have the hiking boots waiting for you instead of carrying them in your pack on the bike! (I did that once, and I realized that I just don’t like being on a bicycle with something bulky and kind of heavy in a backpack…)

6. \\ - June 6, 2009

My son Nate and I are planning to hike up and camp around Eagle
Crag and spend the next day playing on the Baldfaces. Do you think
we’ll be able to find a spot ? Or should we plan on making it to the lean to ? Thanks in advance. Nate and I climbed Mt.Moosilauke two weeks back. The DOC does a fine job ! Scott

7. Jenny - June 6, 2009

Scott, I’m thinking that the area right around Eagle Crag might fall under Forest Service rules that say you can’t camp above treeline. Even though it is fairly low elevation, the trees at the summit are less than 8′ tall, which seems to be how they define treeline. It would also be exposed to wind there. The South Baldface lean-to might be a safer bet–but my guess is you’d want to go up the Baldface Circle trail, not the Mt. Meader trail as I described, if you are carrying overnight gear. As far as finding other legal spots in the woods is concerned, there might be something on the west side of the Baldface-Meader ridge (like somewhere down the Eagle Link trail), but I don’t know for sure. The east side of the ridge is much too steep for any camping. I’d suggest calling AMC at Pinkham Notch or one of the WMNF ranger stations to get more information. Hope you find a good spot and have a wonderful time–it’s a great area!

8. Rick S. - August 5, 2009

I’m on a vacation week and will probably do the Baldface Loop tomorrow, so it was helpful (and fun) for me to read this post, and the one about Caps Ridge, Link, Castles . . . Keep on blogging!

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