Slides of the Sandwich Range : Passaconaway, Whiteface, Sleepers, North Tripyramid Loop

Date of Hike: 8/1/15

Downes Brook Trail: 2.1 miles  /  Abandoned Downes Brook Slide Trail: 2.0 miles  /  Dicey's Mill Trail: 0.8 miles  /  Rollins Trail: 2.1 miles  /  Kate Sleeper Trail: 3.3 miles  /  Mount Tripyramid Trail: 2.0 miles  /  Livermore Trail: 1.0 miles  /  Mount Tripyramid Trail: 1.5 miles  /  Sabbaday Brook Trail: 4.8 miles  /  Kancamagus Highway: 1.1 miles
Total Miles: 20.7 miles (6,777 feet elevation gained)

Trip Report:
- Saturday I headed to the Sandwich Range to get in a big hike and knock off some grid peaks for August (Passaconaway and Whiteface).  The weather forecast called for partly sunny skies in the morning followed by afternoon thunderstorms.  I decided to get an early start and plan my route according to the weather I ran into.
- I started my hike along the relatively flat Downes Brook Trail, which travels over five miles up to the Sleeper Ridge.  There are several wide water crossings over the first couple of miles and then several more smaller crossings as it gradually rises up to the ridge.  I only traveled two miles on the trail until I came to a rock washout where I jumped off trail to head up to Mount Passaconaway via the abandoned Downes Brook Slide Trail.  This would be my third time on the abandoned trail but first since July of 2011
- The trail has been abandoned since 1957, according to the A.M.C. White Mountain Guide supplement report that was issued in June of 1957.  However, in the late 1990's a 'trail bandit' went in and cleared and re-blazed the route with white spray paint on trees and the slide itself, along with installing trail signs creating a bootleg trail.  The USFS went in and tried to clear the blazes as best as they could, however there are still faded blazes on the slab of the slide, and although the trees are now blaze free they look even worse because whatever the USFS used to remove these blazes ended up leaving disgusting looking bubble 'acid' burn blazes on the trees.  (click here for more info).
-  The slide itself doesn't get extremely steep until the top where the bootleg trail parallels the slide and steeply climbs up to the Walden Trail downlook.  The majority of the slide is layered slab with 'shelves,' it's mostly out in the open but does travel through a few short rocky spots in the woods where there are interesting pools of water.  The dry slab has excellent grip but anywhere there is water is very slippery with a slimy substance.
- Once I reached the Walden Trail downlook I headed up to the summit of Mount Passaconaway and started my hike over to Mount Whiteface via the Dicey's Mill and Rollins Trail.  The first few tenths of a mile descending Passaconaway is steep and rocky but it soon eases up and the footing becomes much easier and basically stays that way along the up and downs of the Rollins Trail to the summit of Mount Whiteface.  A few tenths of a mile past the summit I reached the Kate Sleeper Trail junction and turned right onto it and started along the Sleeper Ridge.
- The weather was still looking great as I reached the upper junction of the Downes Brook Trail so I decided to keep on hiking along the Kate Sleeper Trail towards the Tripyramids.  The Kate Sleeper Trail is a very nice path that is covered in pine needles as it heads by East and West Sleeper.  There is always a lot of moose activity throughout the ridge, and by activity I mean tons of moose poop, however I have yet to see a moose, maybe next time!
- Just before reaching the summit of West Sleeper I ran into Bob Watkins and his two dogs.  I ran into Bob last month as he and his dogs where doing a Pemi Loop, today they were basically doing the same hike as me except in the opposite direction while avoiding the slides.
- When I reached the south slide of Mount Tripyramid I had two options, I could head up to South Tripyramid, over Middle Tripyramid and head back to the car, OR, I could head down the south slide, hike the Livermore Trail for a mile and head up the north slide to North Tripramid, and then head down.  I looked up into the sky and judged that the clouds in the general area where not threatening enough and decided to hit up the slides.
- Both slides are steep and rough.  The south slide is mostly gravel and boulders where the north slide starts off as slab then breaks open and becomes a mix of mostly boulders and loose rock.  I enjoy the north slide more because of the wide open upper section and the view over to Waterville Valley ski area on Mount Tecumseh, and the Osceola's.
- Usually on a summer weekend around 1 p.m. the slide would be crowded with hikers, but I had it all to myself, must have been because of the forecast that was predicted.  I took a short break at the summit where there were a few other hikers before heading back down via the Sabbaday Brook Trail.  The upper section of this trail was steep and rough for about three quarters of a mile before the grades and footing became much much better.  The Sabbaday Brook Trail reminded me a lot of the Pine Bend Brook Trail as the last few miles out to the road is generally flat and never ends.  The nice thing about the Sabbaday Brook Trail is it heads past Sabbaday Falls gorge which is a cool site to see.  Once I reached the trailhead I road walked the Kanc for just over a mile back to the Downes Brook trailhead.
- It was a rugged hike and I got really lucky with the weather, just a few miles away in Franconia Notch the mountains where getting pounded with Thunderstorms that produced hail!

 The first two miles of my hike was along the easy grades and good footing on the Downes Brook Trail

 There are several big water crossings that I easily hopped over the first two miles.

 These crossing would be difficult and possibly dangerous after heavy rain or spring snow melt.

 After two miles I come to a washout, this is where the abandoned trail starts.

 Nailed to a tree used to be a sign with information on it.  There is no longer a sign, just a wooden marker.  The sign pictured above was laying on the ground at the top of the abandoned trail where there was another sign nailed to a tree.

 1955 A.M.C. Whit Mountain Guide entry. Two years later a supplemental report came out and the trail had maintenance suspended!

1955 map

The bottom of the slide is in the woods.  It's layered slab

Once past the slab that is below a canopy of trees it pops out into the open on semi steep but grippy slab

Approaching another small layered shelf and more out in the open slab hiking

Looking up the slide and looking down it, Mount Potash in view

There is running trickling water on parts of the slide.  This should not be stepped on as there is a slimy algae substance that is super slick!
  
 The slide heads back into the woods for a few hundred feet where it reaches a gem pool below another layer of shelf to get up.  This one was too went to climb so I went up a herd path off to the left.

 Downes Brook Slide gem pool

 Breaking out into the open where there is an obstructed view up to Mount Passaconway.  There is also a ring bolted into the slide.  I wonder what it was used for back in the early to mid twentieth century??!!

 Along the slab there are faded blazes from when the trail was illegally blazed.

 On last canopy section of layered shelf to climb up.  I stayed to the right and found dry slab to navigate up and over it.  There is a herd path to the left that bypasses the slab here.

 Back out into the open.  I hike up until I reach this slick shelf that runs into a pool.  At this spot I head into the woods on the right.

 The trees have 'acid' bubble blazes from the forest service attempting to remove the white blazes on the trees.  Unfortunately they made it worse.  

 The slide is overgrown and steep.  It eventually ends at the Walden Trail downlook a few tenths of a mile below the summit

 Great view from the downlook!

 Mount Passaconaway summit and the outlook just below the summit

 Heading along the Dicey's Mill and Rollins Trail towards Mount Whiteface

 Mount Whitface's summit is just a cairn on the side of the trail with a marker nailed to a tree.  Not too exciting.

 The Kate Sleeper / Downes Brook Trail junction

 Heading into the blowdown corridor on the Kate Sleeper Trail.

 Impressive blowdown patch!

 The Kate Sleeper trail has great footing and easy grades as it makes it's way along the ridge past East and West Sleeper.

 The Sleeper Slide.

 Looking down the South Tripyramid Slide.

 Looking down and up the South Tri Slide.

 Below the slide the Mount Tripyramid Trail levels out and the footing becomes much easier.

 Hiking along the Livermore Trail past an old logging camp.

 The foot of the North Tripyramid Slide.

 The slide is very steep and starts of narrow.

 Towards the middle of the slide the views start to open up.

 Mount Tecumseh and the Osceola's.

 The upper part of the slide is wide open and fun!

 The big cairn at the top of the slide, it looks like a rock waterfall that just drops away!

 View from a downlook next to the summit of Mount Tripyramid

 Hiking down the Sabbaday Brook Trail.  It''s steep and rough for the first 0.75 miles then the grades ease up and the footing improves dramatically.

Sabbaday Falls.

Hiking the Kanc back to the Downes Brook trailhead.

Signs spotted along the way.

Route for the day.

elevation, time, and mileage data, click here for more details

8 comments:

  1. Your route made a squiggelly heart shape! Now you have to go back to get Middle Tri!

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    1. Poor middle and south summits feel left out that they didn't get to share in on the fun!

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  2. Amazing hike! You da man! Great pictures and historical info. We mere mortals are envious.

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    1. Thanks Marvin!! I always enjoy exploring off trail / abandoned trails slides :)

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  3. How beautiful that abandoned slide is! I'd better not let Prema see this report, or I know where we will be heading! Great report and photos!

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    1. Thanks, Beckie! It's a lot of fun on the slide. It's worth checking out even if you don't go all the way up. :)

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  4. Awesome trip report and gorgeous pics as always. We are not up to your level of hiking though.. we got in Galehead (watched a rescue in progress) Mt. Willard, Morgan/Percival, Zealand Falls to the Hut, and Greeley Ponds. Oh and we took the Cog up to Mt. Washington 40 degrees, 50 mile an hour winds, rain/hail and zero views. But we still had a great time. Must work harder to get in better shape !! You keep inspiring me with those reports !! - Cheers - Wendy Burton

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    1. Sounds like you guys had a great weekend up there and got in some great hikes. Glad you got to experience that wild Washington weather :)

      Enjoy the rest of your summer, it's flying by!!!

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