Ascent of Owls Head on 2012-09-23

Climber: Ryan Aschbrenner

Date:Sunday, September 23, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Owls Head
    Location:USA-New Hampshire
    Elevation:4025 ft / 1226 m

Ascent Trip Report

From Lincoln Woods, I took the Lincoln Woods Trail north, making out-and-back side trips along the Black Pond and Franconia Falls Trails to check out those scenic spots. I continued north along the the Franconia Brook Trail, and then took the stream-crossing route to Owl's Head along the Lincoln Brook Trail. After ascending the slide up Owl's Head, and traversing out-and-back along the summit ridge, I returned to the Lincoln Brook Trail, continuing north along the lesser-traveled portion until I reached 13 Falls. From there, I took the Franconia Brook trail due south, eventually completing the full loop around Owl's Head, and continued southbound to the Lincoln Woods Trail and back to my starting point. Total distance was about 23 miles.

While 20+ miles in the White Mountains is generally a huge effort, this route wasn't too bad, since a good bit of it followed old railroad beds, making it possible to run at a normal pace. I blew through those miles quickly, without any undue fatigue.

The infamous stream crossings along the Lincoln Brook Trail slowed me quite a bit. I wasted 30+ minutes finding a rock-hop route across Franconia Brook (the first major crossing), but after that I made quicker progress. Either the crossings were easier, or I just stopped caring if I got a little wet. At any rate, be careful!

While making the unrelenting steep climb up the slide to Owl's Head, I made sure to enjoy the view west toward the Franconia Range, as I knew that there would be no view from the summit. Once I gained the summit ridge, I pushed all the way to the north, visiting the "old" and "new" summits. There seems to be a maze of herd paths up there, but I figured it out.

After making the treacherous descent back down the slide, I continued north along the Lincoln Brook Trail, wanting to fully circumnavigate Owl's Head. The trail was tough to follow in spots. I wonder how much less traffic the northern section of the trail gets, compared to the southern part, which is the standard approach to Owl's Head (frequently traveled as it's a route to a 4000 footer). I'm guessing much fewer people approach the Owl's Head slide starting from the north, although it seems like it would be doable, and I might try it sometime. For the record, I saw about ten people on Owl's Head, but saw no one along the northern stretch along the Lincoln Brook Trail.

Once I reached the Franconia Brook trail, it was a very easy 8 mile run along old railroad beds back to Lincoln woods. The few stream crossings slowed me a little bit, but otherwise it was like running on roads.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:2825 ft / 861 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Stream Ford, Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:2825 ft / 861 m
    Trailhead:Lincoln Woods  1200 ft / 365 m
Descent Statistics

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