Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mt. Mexico Loop 1/29/12

"A Long Crusty Loop" (pictures)

Not exactly sure what to hike and how much we could handle I decided on Mt Paugus. We always enjoy this hike and the Big Rock Cave is always a treat. Scott and I parked on the side of the road (plowed) for Cabin Trail. We got our start at 8:30am. We carried our snow shoes up the driveway to the start of the trail. The ground had some snow and a crusty layer on top. I decided to go with the snow shoes and Scott opted to bare boot it. It was one of those surfaces that were not really ideal for either. Temperatures were comfurtable with a cold breeze. The trail was well blazed and blowdowns had been removed/trimmed.

We made the junction and kept right at this fork onto Big Rock Cave Trail. All of the trails beyond this junction were unbroken, so we had to brake trail...if you want to call it that! The snow was so hard packed and crusty that we hardly made a dent in it. We made the approximate 1.5 mile hike over Mt. Mexico and down to the Big Rock Cave arriving at 10:00am. Always impressive to see this huge mass of house sized boulders! We explored the cave briefly before continuing on.

From here we crossed the river. Already getting a bit worn out we decided to skip Paugus and keep the hike shorter. So we went left up the Whitin Brook Trail. This proved to be much more of a challenge than I had expected. While it was not blazed, it was generally easy to follow of you pay attention. We trudged through the tiresome snow crust having to climb over and under many blow downs. We passed a Bobcat trail in the snow which was pretty exciting. The final long climb up a ridge to get to the Cabin Trail was almost more than we could take! It was steep and relentless with blow downs mocking our feeble progress.

It was such a relief to reach the Cabin Trail where we went left to head down. This trail also well blazed, with only a couple minor blow-downs. From here it was a long 2.2 mile hike out past the first junction and to the parking area. Which we did so in a hyper-speed, zomby-like state. It was a surprising I never tripped and fell all day as my snow shoes often caught the crusty snow and causing me to trip up. Scott seemed to fair well bare-booting all day. We both were very tired and sore when we finally arrived at the truck for 1:30pm. 5.6 miles in 5 hours. A reminder of how tough winter hiking can be! It was nice to get out in the woods though and we were proud of ourselves for what we accomplished!


  1. Jason,

    This sounds so much like some of my winter trips in the Whites. I, like you did this weekend, get so exhausted trampling through snow. It's amazing how quick you get worn out. I'm sure I would have cut the loop short just as you did. The heading back like a zombie has happened to me so many times before too. That's when you can get hurt. You get tired and sloppy! Glad to hear none of your trips made you fall.

    Is Mount Mexico anything to check out? Are there any viewpoints at all? Does the trail go over the true summit?


  2. Hey Karl! We aren't too fond of winter hiking so we try and stick to simpler hikes. This trip may have actually been a little better if there was more snow. Mt. Mexico is nothing special, but Big Rock Cave on the other side of it is a neat spot worth the visit. In the summer this is a great loop taking Big Rock Cave Trail and continuing on up Old Paugus trail across several ledges and a ledge at the height of land that overlooks Whiteface and Passaconoway (report from those trips on the side bar-Paugus 11/28&30/09. The trail does not cross the actual summit of either of these. We were very tired but we always hike prepaired, we had snow pants and extra clothing with us and always pack enough water and food in case of emergency! Hope you can check this area out sometime!

  3. Nice report, Jason!

    If you've ever read my Blog reports, you know how much I truly love hikes like the one you did.

    Wish that the Wonalancet trailhead wasn't such a slog for me. Takes about 1.5+ hours from my home in Bethlehem to get there. There's such a variety of loops that can be done from that trailhead.

    Thanks for sharing,

  4. The Sandwich Range is close to me, about an hour and I love the area so it's a place I visit often. I've done loops over all the peaks. There are so many beautiful spots and ledges that are quite and pretty. Favorite spots include: the area near the Algonquin/Black Mt. Pond trail junction on Sandwich, the Paugus ledges, the North ledge on Passaconaway and Carter Ledge on Chocorua :)