At the Edge of the Pemigewasset Wilderness: Nancy & Norcross Pond

Date of Hike: 4/6/14

Nancy Pond Trail: 8.75 miles (2,500 feet elevation gained)

Trip Report:
- It has been quite awhile since I last posted a trip report.  There are a couple of trips I have done but haven't gotten around to posting them.  Hopefully I will have a chance to get to those, but for now I'm writing about a nice little adventure I did this past Sunday.
- I headed to Route 302 east of Crawford Notch to the Nancy Pond Trail.  My goal for the day was to reach Norcross Pond and get some rarely seen views of the Bonds, Guyout, and the Pemigewasset Wilderness.
- The weather was quite warm, in the forty's with a bright sun blasting down on the mountains.  The wind was whipping but for the most part I was shielded from it's furry.
- I had never been on the Nancy Pond Trail, so this was a new trail for me.  It had gradual to moderate grades all the way to the base of the Nancy Cascade which was covered in snow and ice.  The trail hadn't seen much foot traffic but it was easy to follow to the cascade.  There is still plenty of snow in the White Mountains, three to four feet in some places.  The warmer weather is making for challenging conditions as I started to post hole in spots leading up to the Cascade.
- The hike along Nancy Brook wasn't too exciting, it was pretty with the snow still suffocating the brook but in a few weeks with the melt it'll be much more interesting of a hike into the cascade.
- Once you pass the bottom of the cascade the trail ascends steeply up the left side of it.  There are switchbacks to make it not so relentless but with the spring snow it made for dicey conditions.  I had to use branches and tree trunks to navigate the steep slide slopes while kicking in awkward steps with my snowshoes.  It was the first time I could have used my crampons, and poles would have been really handy, too.  At one point I decided to turn around thinking it was a little too dicey to head up because coming down looked like it might be borderline dangerous. After about one minute, I stopped, collected myself, and decided to proceed with caution.  I've dealt with the snow sheet of steepness that drops off into the oblivion on the east slope of Mount Jefferson.  I could handle this, plus if I slid I'd bounce off the trees which would slow me down!
- Once reaching the top of the cascade the trail becomes relatively easy again.  There were no signs of tracks anywhere but I was able to stay on the trail and with the cooler temps at around 3,000 feet made the snow stable so it was easy to walk on top without punching through.  It's really beautiful through here in the snow, and very quiet.
- I got to walk over Nancy and Norcross Ponds, they are still frozen solid and made for a really unique hiking experience.  At the outlet of Norcross Pond is a steep frozen brook drop off which falls deep into the Pemigewasset Wilderness.  There's a definite weird feeling being up on a frozen pond looking down into the Pemi.  All you see is trees, with deep snow beneath them, and not a person down there for miles.
- After snapping dozens of pics I made my way back over the two ponds.  Usually on my way back to the car on hikes like these I shut my brain off and motor back to the Jeep.  Today that wasn't the case.  I had to navigate descending the steep awkward snow slope switch backs along Nancy Cascade.  I had to use the pine branches and down-climb, in my snow shoes, not exactly the easiest thing to do.  When there were no branches to help down climb safely, I punched holes into the snow and gingerly used those to support myself.
- Once I made it to the bottom of the cascade I was then greeted with monster post-holing in my snowshoes, the weather warmed up the snow over the past couple of hours that I sunk in a half to a foot and a half every step for about a half mile until the trail became more gradual.
- I tore up the snow but not the trail, I've never post-holed that bad in snowshoes before.  I was happy that the final mile was much better with only a couple of spots where I sank in.  The post-holing had taken a lot of energy out of me.
- Once I made it back to the car I changed into dry clothes and relaxed for a bit before heading back to RI.  I decided to take Route 16 back to 95 in Southern NH.  I've actually never driven home this way and after about ten minutes I realized why I never headed this way.  Pretty drive, but marred by bad drivers!
- Still, it was great to get back out there solo hiking again.  I'm really looking forward to the snow melting to do some crazy endurance hikes.  Yesterday, I came up with one I call the 'Pemi Coaster.' It loops around owls head, does another loop via Shoal Pond and Thoreau Falls Trail, then up and over Carrigain via Desolation Trail!  Can't wait!
Nancy Pond Trailhead
 Halfway Brook
 Old logging road is part of the Nancy Pond Trail
 Nancy Brook Research Area, don't pee in the water!
Nancy Brook, still covered with feet of snow
 Nancy Cascades
 Close up of the snow covered cascade
 The trail gets really steep and the footing gets tricky with the side slope of snow
 There's a trail here somewhere!
 More of the steep stuff!
 Finally leveling out above the cascade
Nancy Pond Trail was blazed a little better than what I thought it would be
 Once up and over the cascade the trail becomes almost level and beautiful
 Hiking through a pine grove
 Entering Nancy Pond
Nancy Pond
 Nancy Pond
 Polly want a cracker??!!
 Well, it looks like it's going to be awhile before trail running
 Norcross Pond
 Bond and Guyot from Norcross
 Close up of Mount Bond
Norcross Pond
 South Twin
 Guyot / Zealand Col with South Twin rising above
 Mount Anderson
 Edge of the Pemi Wilderness
 The Bonds
 Looking down Nancy Brook
 Bondcliff with Franconia Ridge rising above it.
 The Bonds
 Mount Bond, notice the secluded alpine ridge in this picture on it's eastern shoulder (center of pic)
 Steep drop off at the Norcross Pond Outlet
Zeacliff to Guyot
I actually can't remember if this is Nancy or Norcross Pond!
 Heading back to Nancy Pond
Solar blast of sun above the white mountains
Mount Nancy 
 Nancy Pond Outlet
 View from Nancy Cascades
 Stairs and Mount Resolution
 Post Holing!
Washout along Nancy Brook from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Sandy Pants
Post Holing back to the car
Jeep with some of Mount Hope rising above across the street


  1. Thanks for sharing, great write up and stunning photos!

    1. Thanks Anonymous, it was an easy place to get stunning photos because it's so beautiful!

  2. Excellent Trip Report. I love this trail but never hiked it in Winter. Thanks for posting.

    1. Hi 25Bees, Thanks! I had never been on it before and am looking forward to getting up there once the snow melts to see the cascades in full flowing action.

  3. Chris, it's been a while since I've posted a reply to your blog reports, but trust me, I've read and thoroughly enjoyed each of them.

    Concerning this report, I have a few comments as follows.

    _ Totally agree about the first part of the hike along Nancy Brook as not being "too exciting". Each time I've hiked to Nancy/Norcross Ponds, I have dreaded that stretch. Some say they enjoy it, but to me it's just plain mind-numbing boring!

    _ Regarding those switchbacks above Nancy Cascade, I was stunned a few winters ago to meet some backcountry skiers making their way down that stretch of trail! Yikes!

    _ Obviously Nancy/Norcross Ponds isn't considered as a 4K peak. Nonetheless, it's quite a climb, and the elevation gain of about 2,200 ft is greater than some of the 4K peaks such as Jackson, Tom, and Osceola (from Tripoli Rd).

    Terrific report and photos!

    1. Thanks, John. Your comments always put a smile on my face :)

      Those backcountry skiers always amaze me, they're crazy and will go anywhere to make some turns in the snow!

  4. Hello! Hiking this trail to Norcross soon and camping overnight! cant wait! anyone have any tips? Its our first overnight!

    1. Bring bug spray, this is the time of the year they start coming out in full force!

      As for camping, you should be able to find a nice spot off in the woods to set up. It still can get pretty cold at night higher up, too. Other than that, enjoy your backpack!