Breaking Out the Birch Glades : Fire Wardens Trail to Mount Hale

Date of Hike: 11/30/14

Herd Path: 1.0 miles  /  North Twin Trail:  1.0 miles  /  Mount Hale (FW) Trail:  4.7  /  North Twin Trail: 1.0 miles  /  Herd Path:  1.0 miles
Total Miles: 8.70 (2,470 feet elevation gained)  GPS Garmin Forerunner 910XT

Trip Report:
- Sunday was a warm day in the mountains which turned the fluffy snow base of the past two days into a heavy and wet base.  I figured I'd hike a lower 4,000 foot mountain so I could leave the snowshoes behind.
- I decided to head to Little River Road and over to Mount Hale via the old Mount Hale Trail, AKA the Firewardens Trail to enjoy the nice gradual ascent through the Birch glades.
- I started my hike around 11:30 and was surprised there were no other cars to be found and no recent evidence of heavy hiker travel heading along the old logging road on the way to the North Twin trailhead on Haystack Road.
- It's an easy hike to the start of the Fire Wardens Trail, which is located off the herd path that bypasses the first two water crossings along the North Twin Trail. 
- Once I hooked onto the old fire Wardens road I quickly realized that I should have brought my snowshoes as the trail was not broken out and snow depths kept increasing the higher I went.  I wasn't upset because I wanted a workout and not having the snowshoes gave me quite the workout as extra effort had to be made as a major balling up of the snow was happing since the temps were in the 40's.
- The main attraction of the Fire Wardens trail is the huge birch glades it passes through.  After another big snowfall these glades will be a great place to ski and snowboard.  The birch glades transition back to pine as the old trail gains the ridge just north of the summit of Mount Hale.  The Trail passed through trees that were blanketed in 'Old Man's Beard'
- Soon after passing through the Old Man's Beard section the trail drops down and then shoots up to Mount Hale, where the trail ends on the western side of the summit.  I changed into dry layers and ate lunch on the summit, the weather was unseasonably warm for 4,000 feet and above me the clouds were breaking open a little bit which was an added bonus.
- Once done with lunch I took some pictures and high-tailed it out of there and booked it back down the Fire Wardens Trail.  It's one of the easiest descents in the snow of a 4,000 footer, it has an easy grade and is basically like heading down and ramp on a small decline.
- Once back on the North Twin Trail I quickly made my way back to the trailhead and then jumped onto the herd path over the old grade back to the Jeep, but not before stopping at the weird looking fireplace and rock foundation building next to the road, see pic below.

 Route for the day, click here for details
Hiking along the herd path which starts to the left immediately after the bridge
 North Twin trailhead, the lower end of the trail, and the Little River
 The upper right is where the North Twin Trail crosses the Little River for the first time, the herd path that bypasses the first two crossings heads left here, which can be seen on the image on the left
 The beginning of the Fire Wardens Trail can be found at this tree above a small embankment where it takes a left and hooks onto the old tractor road
Mount Hale Trail, AKA Fire Wardens Trail has easy to moderate grades throughout
 Entering the Birch Glades, great place to ski and snowboard when there's a little more snow
The woods transitions back into pine then it gains the ridge just north of Mount Hale's summit where the old trees have an abundance of Old Man's Beard
 Heading up to Mount Hale
  Mount Hale's Summit, there used to be a firetower up here in the World War II era
 Views from the top
Descending back down the Fire Wardens Trail
 Back through the upper section of pine that transitions into birch
 Birch Glades, notice the blue paint on the lower right Birch tree!
Heading back out to the Jeep, along the Little River and herd Path and checking out the old stone fireplace and cellar



2 comments:

  1. Very nice report and photos, as always Chris!

    Seems like a weird thing to comment on, but it's amazing to me that the blue arrow on that birch tree has remained relatively intact for so many years. It's been there for at least 8 years that I know of.

    Please keep on posting your blog reports. Each one is a pleasure to read!

    John

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, John :) I'm hoping to one day explore to the north of Mount Hale and see if I can try and locate parts of the Old Tuttle Brook Trail!

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