Being very interested since I read the description on the Sandwich Dome Algonquin Trail, I thought Ascender/Scott and I would check it out. I drove through Wolfeboro and up Rt. 109 to Rt. 113 coming close to hitting three deer around a bend in the road...glad I was paying attention as I try to do up North with all the wildlife around! The Sandwich Notch Rd. was difficult to find. When you come into Center Sandwich Village from the South end look for a yellow blinking light with a General Store (closed) on the left. 113 bears left while the road you want forks straight ahead. The road changes to dirt and forks (here there is a sign for Sandwich Notch Rd. - Left). Soon the narrow road becomes somewhat rough with large pot holes (which the rain filled up and probably made worse) and some rather steep pitches...(little cars beware - bottoming-out is a possibility!) Continue on for approximately 2.5 miles passing Guinea Pond TR and then the Algonquin TR. The parking is limited to three spots at the trailhead and a couple spots a short distance back the way you came. I backed into my own personal spot between trees and we got the packs on, noticing only one other truck in the lot. Starting at 9:30am the trail begins as an old logging road and turned out to be one of the more pleasant logging roads I've been on. Only a few mosquito's were buzzing whenever we stopped to take pictures of the numerous mushrooms on the, yes, you guessed it, wet trail from the rain that morning and night before. The trail crosses a brook and soon climbs steeply alongside a river and then breaks from the river and up to the South end of Black Mt. Here you will find some open rock areas similar to that of Sandwich Mtn. TR on Sandwich's North end, the difference being that instead of a view up to Jennings Peak you are given a view up to trailess Black Mt. The trail easily makes it's way around the mountain then drops slightly before climbing very steeply. This section of trail reminds me of Wildcat Ridge TR from Glen Ellis Falls. As you make your way up the steep, rocky TR you come to a somewhat tough rock scramble and up/through and around two others. Once atop these we were awarded with our first good views. As we exited the ledge area we ran into three men who belonged to the lone truck in the parking lot. One stated he had never seen anyone on this trail before, claiming it was little used. We joked about the "dry" season we have had this year, complained about the slippery trail and made our farewells. Now we quickly began to climb out onto open rock areas with low alpine trees breaking up the rocky ridge. The one thing that I noticed was that the trail here was narrow and the rocky ridge was not trampled down by heavy foot traffic (confirming that it was a less used TR). We arrived at a rather attractive ledge area where we took a break to take in the view and serenity. Views were magnificent North to the rock sided peaks & ledges of Sachem Peak on Acteon Ridge, Jennings Peak and Welch and Dickey with Tecumseh & the Osceolas in the distance. We carried on to the Black Mt. Pond TR junction at 3300 ft. arriving at 12:15pm with a beautiful ledge with an outstanding view South East to Black Mountain Pond and it's adjacent marsh...definitely visiting that area soon! We determined this was as far as we needed to go as there was a great view and a nice breeze. We also wanted enough energy to get back down the steep, slippery trail. We dropped our bags in some scrub and explored the ridge further, climbing up another 100 ft. or so to a large boulder. We came back for our bags, ran into two other guys and we hiked back down to the ledge with the North view to have lunch. After spending 1.5 hrs. on this beautiful ridge and our stomachs satisfied, we started back down at 1:45pm. To our surprise we met a solo female barefoot hiker on the rock scramble. First time I've seen this species on a trail, we exchanged hello's and she went truckin' on...probably having an easier time on the wet rock than we did! As we got back down to the river we passed a family of five heading to camp at Black Mt. Pond. I mentioned the climb up the ridge was very steep, to which the father replied, "oh, there's a ridge?" After we continued on I began to think, why didn't they take the direct route up Guinea Pond TR? Why are they starting out on this trail so late?? Is he perhaps on the wrong trail??? How are they going to get there young kids (2 of them girls) and a dog with overnight gear weighing them down up the rock scrambles???? I began to worry and was hoping they would have the common sense to turn around if things got difficult. We then came back to the logging road and passed another family of three with nothing more than fishing poles and tackle boxes at 3:15pm, apparently also headed to the pond...WHAT??? After snapping shots of more shrooms we missed on the way up and passing the two ill-informed (I'm assuming) groups we arrived back at the truck at 3:30pm.
<View Pictures HERE>
I must say I greatly enjoyed this hike, it has a feeling of seclusion and affords great/unique views and has the exciting rock scrambling that I love. A trail to re-visit again and again!