One hike I’ve really been looking forward to this winter is Shannon Brook. I first hiked this trail – unexpectedly – last August, when we did a photo shoot for the Patternworks catalog here. That day, I had my regular work shoes on, which were comfortable for walking but certainly not made for hiking. I hiked this trail later again in the summer with friends from work, and in the fall with my hubby. It’s a beautiful place in the lushness of summer, and it’s just as gorgeous (maybe even more) when blanketed with snow in the chill of winter.
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Shannon Brook is located within the Castle in the Clouds property in the Ossipee Mountains. (See my 12/20/15 post for directions and links.) From the parking area by the gate, head east toward Shannon Pond, then along the carriage road passing around the right side of the pond to the kiosk at the intersection of several trails. The Shannon Brook trail is the one to the far right, blazed in red. A short way ahead on the trail, the Brook Walk trail (blazed in white) branches off to the right. However, I continued on the Shannon Brook trail a little further. About 8/10 mile from the parking area, the other end of the Brook Walk trail (again, blazed in white) branches off to the right, following along the eastern side of the brook and emerging high on the hill above the Falls of Song. Follow the trail down this somewhat steep section to a small bridge across the brook. At the bottom, a boardwalk leads you up along the brook to the Falls of Song. The trail continues on the western side of the brook, branching off of the boardwalk. Continue following the white trail, meandering uphill along the brook, past six more waterfalls. After passing Roaring Falls, you’ll cross a bridge and rejoin the Shannon Brook trail just below the pond and kiosk.
Since we got a little snow this weekend (only an inch), I brought along my snowshoes. However, there wasn’t enough snow to use them, so I left them in the car and wore my spikes instead. There were already several cars in the parking area when I arrived, but I believe most of them were hiking the Mt. Roberts trail and/or other trails on the other side of Shannon Pond. I only saw two hikers on the Shannon Brook trail on my way down, and two more by Shannon Pond on my way back.
This is a really beautiful hike in the winter, and not a difficult one as long as you have the proper footwear. I recommend spikes if there’s any amount of snow on the trail, or snowshoes if it’s deep enough.
A portion of the Shannon Brook trail is used by snowmobiles in the winter, so stay alert while you’re on this red-blazed trail (and if you’re one of those people that just has to listen to music through headphones while you’re hiking, this would be a good place to cut the tunes and make sure you can hear any approaching sleds). The white trail (Brook Walk), however, is not accessible by snowmobiles.
The highlight of the Brook Walk, of course, is the waterfalls of Shannon Brook – seven of them: Roaring Falls, Twin Falls, Whittier Falls, Harriet’s Cascades, Emerald Pool Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Falls of Song. But another interesting feature of this hike is that you first hike downhill, and then back up, instead of the usual up-then-down. You won’t find any mountaintop views on this trail, but the brook and waterfalls are just as scenic.