Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Mount Osceola and East Osceola

The weather forecast today called for clearing skies after early morning clouds. So it was a gray, overcast sky on the drive to the trailhead. Today's hike would take me over East Osceola (4,156 ft.) to Mount Osceola (4,340 ft.), two 4,000 footers. My hike would start at the Greeley Ponds Trail off the Kancamagus Highway and continue on to the Mount Osceola Trail.


 Big blowdown

 Mount Osceola Trail Junction

I was the first one into the parking lot but was soon followed by two more vehicles. It was 8:00 am when I hit the trail. There was a thin layer of packed snow and ice along the Greeley Ponds trail. Two water crossings were easily crossed. Beyond this was a very large blowdown that required going around rather than over or under. The log bridges had a layer of ice and snow but I really didn't need the microspikes.

 Cliffs of Osceola north spur

The Greeley Ponds Trail is a nice walk through the woods and allows the legs to "warm-up" for the hike up to East Osceola. At the trail junction the Mount Osceola Trail starts to the right and a moderate climb begins. There was more snow and ice as I climbed higher. The trail was getting steeper and I decided to put the microspikes on. It was just in time, the trail was getting very "interesting".

 Looking up the slide

Looking down the slide

There was one point in the trail that had a steep slide with snow covered ice for an added bonus. I found this to be the most difficult section of today's hike. The scrubby trees did not provide very good handholds and every step was careful and calculated. I reached the top of the slide unscathed but knew I still had to come back this way.

 Mount Osceola

One last steep pitch and the trail leveled out somewhat with a good viewpoint to the right. I stopped a few minutes and took some photos and then continued my ascent to the summit of East Osceola.

 Peak of East Osceola

 Cold bug walking across the snow

Summit of East Osceola 

As I came closer to the summit I heard hikers talking. Reaching the summit I saw two hikes, the same couple I had seen on my hike last weekend to Mount Carrigain. They had come from the other direction and told me the climb was very steep. As it turned out it was not nearly as steep from where I had just come up.

 Hiker ascending the chimney

 Icy chimney

 Detour around the chimney

There are no views from the summit of East Osceola, only a cairn marking the spot. So I got the customary summit photo and it was on to Mount Osceola bracing for the notorious "chimney". The other two hikers started their return hike a few minutes before I left.

 Snow-covered summits

Mount Washington summit from Mount Osceola

The trail descends and then starts an upward climb to the chimney. The couple before me was stopped below the chimney. The young man was tackling this steep, ice covered, almost vertical climb. The young lady took the detour around, I followed. They both waited to make sure I made it without any problems of which I was appreciative.

Enjoying the view

Mount Osceola summit

I saw the hiking couple on the summit of Mount Osceola. When they departed to make their descent I had the summit to myself, but only for a couple of minutes. The views from Mount Osceola are spectacular! The weather was beautiful with a clear sky, warm sun and no wind. It didn't take long for the summit to become very crowded with hikers streaming in from both directions.

Waterville Valley 

My stay on the summit was brief. I had a snack and took lots of photos. The microspikes went back on and I began my return hike to East Osceola. There were many more hikers making their way to the summit of Mount Osceola.

 Looking down the chimney

Chimney bypass 

The hikers kept on coming as I made my way across the top of East Osceola and started my final descent to the Greeley Ponds Trail. The trail was no easier going down than it was going up. I took extra caution as I descended the slide. One slip here and I would definitely be sliding. The rest of the descent was made without incident or injury. The microspikes came off at the Greeley Ponds trail junction.

 Icy mono-log

 Water crossing

 Another water crossing

Icy pool 

The parking lot was full when I returned with some parked along the Kancamagus. It actually took some fancy maneuvering to get out of there. This was a great hike today with fantastic weather and two more 4,000 footers completed, #22 and #23.

Back at the trailhead

View from the summit of Mount Osceola

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!


  1. Looks like the forecasters were right and you got a prime day for #22 and 23. Congrats. I enjoyed your photos and trip report.

  2. Thanks Brian, weather turned out to be better than I thought it would be! Fantastic day for this hike!