Last Saturday, my wife and I decided to strap on our snowshoes again and head outside for an afternoon of active fun in the mountains and woods of New Hampshire. We headed to Glencliff along Route 25. At a point a short distance north of the town center, Route 25 is intersected by the Appalachian Trail. There’s a little parking lot on the side of the road.
The Wachipauka Pond Trail, a part of the Appalachian Trail, starts at Route 25 and runs west for 2.3 miles (3.7 kilometers) to Wachipauka Pond. It’s a section of the AT that’s often overlooked, being located close to the more spectacular White Mountains. The Wachipauka Trail does not include any major peaks or other natural landmarks. Snowshoeing to Wachipauka Pond makes, however, for a great winter outing. And I think that the hike must be even better in the summertime.
Snowshoeing the Wachipauka Pond Trail, New Hampshire
After leaving Route 25, the Wachipauka Pond Trail first crosses a snowmobile route before becoming a narrow trail through the woods. It starts off moderately, with some steeper sections here and there, and reaches the top of 1,841-foot (561-meter) Wyatt Hill after 1.2 miles (1.9 kilometers).
The trail then descends gradually toward Wachipauka Pond. After another 0.8 or so miles (1.3 kilometers), we arrived at the pond’s northern edge, where there is a nice little camping and picnic spot in summer. Now, the area was covered in snow, the lake completely frozen over. We ate our pre-packed lunches and drank a cup of hot coffee on the lakeshore and continued for another 0.3 miles (0.5 kilometers) to the place where the Wachipauka Pond Trail and the Webster Slide Trail part ways. The Wachipauka Pond Trail continues to the left and its end at Route 25C, while the Webster Slide Trail bends to the right and up to the summit of Webster Slide Mountain. We had been snowshoeing for 1 hour and 35 minutes at that point.
We turned right and followed the steep Webster Slide Trail to the top. At one point, the trail had gotten so steep that it was impossible for us to continue on with our snowshoes. The steep grade, combined with deep snow and an underlying layer of ice, caused us to slide down with every step we took. The name Webster Slide Mountain couldn’t be more appropriate. We took off our snowshoes and finished the last several hundred yards wearing only our boots.
The Webster Slide Trail is no longer than 0.7 miles (1.1 kilometers), but it took us 55 minutes to reach the 2,184-foot (666-meter) summit, a summit that offered a decent view of Wachipauka Pond and the White Mountains, including Mount Moosilauke, in the background. The view was somewhat obstructed by trees, though, which was a bit disappointing.
We headed or, rather, slid and jumped back down, strapped on our snowshoes and were at the base of Webster Slide Mountain after only 30 minutes.
The Wachipauka Pond Trail back to Route 25 took us 1 hour and 15 minutes and was surprisingly tiring. After more than four hours of snowshoeing to Wachipauka Pond and back, we arrived back at our car, utterly exhausted and ready for a shower and a rewarding beer.