Owl's Head : It's a Hoot in Winter

Date of Hike: 3/9/15

Lincoln Woods Trail: 2.6 miles  /  Black Pond Trail: 0.9 miles  /  Black Pond Bushwhack: 1.1 miles  Lincoln Brook Trail: 2.5 miles  /  Brutus Bushwhack: 0.7 miles  /  Owl's Head Path: 1.2  /  Brutus Bushwhack: 0.8 miles  /  Lincoln Brook Trail: 2.5 miles  /  Black Pond Bushwhack:  1.1 miles  /  Black Pond Trail: 0.9 miles  /  Lincoln Woods Trail: 2.6
Total Miles: 16.4 (3,150 feet elevation gained)

Trip Report:
- When there is significant snow on the ground the route to Owl's Head changes. The 'winter' route bypasses several water crossings of the Franconia and Lincoln Brook, as well as bypassing the slide.  Basically, it takes out my favorite parts of the hike since I love slides and old railroad grades with fun water crossings.  The slides and water crossings have been replaced by two bushwhacks; one from Black Pond, and another just south of the slide.
-  Having known that the trail had seen heavy usage over the weekend Whitney and I set out at 8 a.m. down the Lincoln Woods Trail.  All the trails and bushwhacks were a highway of packed down snow with a light dusting on top.  Whitney barebooted and I microspiked to the base of Owl's Head.
- The walk to the bottom of Owl's Head has a slight elevation gain over the six and-a-halfish miles.  However, from the start of the Brutus Bushwhack the elevation grade spikes to one that is excessively steep for almost a mile until gaining the ridge.
- Once on top of the ridge the trail meanders its way past the old summit where the super highway conditions stopped from the previous days path having been wind blown away.  We trudged through the small drifts and actually went a few hundred feet past the new summit just to make sure we hit it since we couldn't find the summit cairn which was hidden under snow.  After a few minutes on the summit we took off back across the ridge. It was windy enough on top that the tracks we and another hiker who was a few minutes behind us where almost drifted in between the new and old summit.
-  Once we started dropping back down the winds let up and we enjoyed the long walk back to the car.  I like Owl's Head, more so in the summer where you can explore the area but I'm hoping to one day take the trails and the slide up in the winter, there'd be a lot of trail breaking involved but it would be fun!

 Early morning at Lincoln Woods and the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River
 Hiking along the old railroad grade on the Lincoln Woods Trail
 Frozen over East Branch
 Heading to Black Pond
 After Black Pond we head through the woods and pop out on the Lincoln Brook Trail after one of the water crossings
 The Lincoln Brook
 Lincoln Brook Trail
 Heading up to Owl's Head and the no views summit
 Lincoln Woods Trail
 Owl's Head from Black Pond
 Signs seen along the way
 The walk back to the trailhead
Route for the day.  Blue X's is the Black Pond bushwhack.  Red X's is the Brutus Bushwhack


  1. I've done the slide in March on my first trip there since I was solo and wasn't sure where the Brutus Bushwhack started (snow conditions made it hard to see that day). It's hard work, but interesting. Even with snowshoes and a set of tracks in front of me, I was knee deep in the snow the entire length of it.

    1. Sounds like quite an adventure, Adam! I've hit the slide in January and in April in decent conditions, more ice than deep snow to navigate, but one of these days I want to add in the Franconia and Lincoln Brook Trail with the slide in the winter!