Mount Osceola (New Hampshire) 26-Jul-2019

After a couple of days at Acadia National Park, we headed inland to New Hampshire’s White Mountains. There we relived a tiny bit of our peakbagging days by hiking Mount Osceola (4,340 feet). Osceola is the 24th highest of the 48 mountains in New Hampshire that rise to over 4,000 feet. We chose it as a moderate hike (6.4 miles round-trip with 2,060 feet of gain) that would allow us to claim at least one 4,000-footer. The presence of excellent brew pubs in nearby Bethlehem and Littleton had nothing to do with this choice – really. 😉

Mount Osceola is usually the first peak climbed by 4,000 peakbaggers and is among the most climbed mountains in the Southern White Mountains. This made us leery of how crowded the parking lot and trail would be – even on a weekday. But, not to worry, we found a spot in the parking lot (which was overflowing when we got back) and passed only a couple dozen other hikers along the trail. The trail, for most of its length, clearly showed why New Hampshire is nicknamed the “Granite State” – lots and lots of rocks and boulders of varying sizes plus some canted rock ledges. Plus tree roots. No real scrambling (we would have had to have continued on to East Osceola for that) but much rock-hopping and mild stair-stepping. A great work-out for our ankles.

A trail of boulders
Yet more rocks
A rare stretch of rock-free, sandy trail
One last expanse of granite before the summit
The foundations for the 1942 fire lookout tower

Despite a few clouds and some haze, we had pretty good views from the summit. You’re supposed to be able to see forty-one of the other 4000-footers from here – if you know what you’re looking at, which we didn’t. 😦

In 1910 the New Hampshire Timberland Owners funded a wooden fire lookout tower on Osceola. In 1924 this wooden contraption was replaced with a 22-foot high steel tower. In 1942, a 40-foot steel tower, with a type R-7 cab, was built to the east of the 1924 tower, which was removed. The 1942 tower lasted until 1985 when it too was dismantled and removed. Today only the footings for the 1924 and 1942 towers remain.

The wooden tower in 1913
The 1942 tower
Another view from the summit
Heading back: blue skies over granite
On down over and around the rocks

After reading some descriptions of this hike, we realize we got lucky here. There were some bugs, but not many. A little mud in only a few places. The air temperature had cooled with the passing of the weekend’s heat dome and the humidity – while present – was manageable. All in all, a good hike to great views on a nice sunny day. 🙂 We may have to wait until our other nephew gets married before we have a chance for another 4000-footer! 🙄


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