Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Horn and The Bulge via Unknown Pond

Today's hike would be a fifteen minute drive to the trailhead from my house. The plan was to hike up Unknown Pond Trail to the Kilkenny Ridge Trail and over to The Bulge (3,950') and back to The Horn (3,905'). I was going to return on the same trails instead of making the loop over Mount Cabot. These two peaks are on the New England Hundred Highest list.

York Pond

Small reflecting pond just before the trailhead


Blowdown obstructing the trail

It was 29 degrees when I left the house so it was going to be a cold start. I drove the 15 minutes to the trailhead as the sun was just coming up. The sky was clear and it looked like a beautiful day was on the way. There were no other vehicles in the parking area. I would be the first one on the trail today. The air was cool and there was a slight breeze making a brisk start to my hike.

The Horn from Unknown Pond Trail

The 3.3 miles to Unknown Pond was a gradual climb. Just for curiosity sake I took the side path up to check out the tent sites at Unknown Pond. They were nice level sites on a sloping hill with a convenient outhouse available. I dropped back down and took a side path that had a sign indicating water pointing to the pond. There were also revegetation signs along this section of trail urging hikers not to venture into these areas.

Cold grub

I reached the trail junction and turned left going south down the Kilkenny Ridge Trail. I met my first group of hikers for today, they had stayed at the cabin on Mount Cabot last night. They told me it had been cold and windy. Speaking of wind, there had been a steady breeze blowing all the way up to Unknown Pond. As I made my way around the western side of The Horn the wind was calm.

The Bulge summit cairn

Summit ledge of The Horn taken from The Bulge

My first summit would be The Bulge so I kept going past the spur trail to The Horn. Reaching The Bulge is very uneventful as there is just a small cairn beside the trail and no views. I took a quick pic, turned around and started my return trip to The Horn.

The Horn summit

Wind turbines on Jericho Mountain

I turned onto the spur path going up to The Horn meeting one hiker and his dog just before the summit. As I was coming down from The Bulge I had zoomed in with my camera to take a photo of The Horn and seen this hiker on the summit so I was expecting to see him as I made my way up. There were no other hikers on the summit when I arrived so I had the place to myself. I dropped my pack just before the final boulder climb then had some fun doing some ledge scrambling. The views from up here of the surrounding area were spectacular!

Percy Peaks

Presidential summits from The Horn

The Horn summit rock

 A very wet section of the Kilkenny Ridge Trail

It was not long before a couple of hikers arrived on the summit. I had been there long enough and I put on my pack to begin my descent. It was their turn to enjoy the summit. I dropped down to the Kilkenny Ridge Trail and made a right turn heading back to Unknown Pond. I saw several more hikers but diffinitely not a crowded trail today. Half way down the Unknown Pond Trail the sun was starting to warm things up and I was now able to remove the fleece with one thin layer being comfortable at this point in the day.

Mushroom clan

Water crossing

Good water flow from recent rain

I arrived back at the parking lot around 2:15. This was my first time on the Unknown Pond Trail and visiting The Horn and The Bulge. On my next hike to these peaks I'll approach from the opposite end of the Unknown Pond Trail. Today was the typical beautiful Fall day with sunshine and a crisp, cool breeze dropping the leaves from the trees providing a colorful carpet as I walked along the trail. Another couple of weeks and the leaves will all be down which I like because it opens up additional views. Each season has its advantages!  

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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