June 17, 2017: North & South Kinsman (9/48 and 10/48)

Just a little over one year later, and I’m finally in the double digits. And back in Franconia Notch-adjacent to get them!

Today, Lucy and I hiked North and South Kinsman mountains from the west side, the Mt. Kinsman trailhead along route 116 just across the town line in Easton, NH. The Mt. Kinsman trail is a 3.7-mile hike to reach the Kinsman Ridge trail, and offers relatively easy footing with a steady climb for about the first 1/3, then gets progressively more rocky in the middle, with some steep, ledgy climbs at the top.

Along the way, there are three primary stream crossings, the second of which includes a gorgeous waterfall spilling from mossy boulders to the left of the trail. There are also numerous smaller water crossings that mainly look like drainage, and may be nonexistent in drier years. Since we’ve had an extremely wet spring, and plenty of rain yesterday, the trail was quite wet throughout, and frequently muddy (sometimes avoidable, sometimes not).

From the junction with the Kinsman Ridge trail, it’s a .4 mile climb with some steep, ledgy sections to reach North Kinsman summit. There’s a stellar overlook of Franconia Notch from a ledge a short hike on a spur trail off to the left just beyond the summit.

Continuing another .9 miles along the Kinsman Ridge trail, and descending steeply down and then back up, gets you to the summit of South Kinsman, marked with a large cairn and offering even more spectacular views.

I did take a wee little spill on the way back down from North Kinsman – and that was decidedly UNspectacular. No exciting injury to report, just a scratched-up knee. At the top of a steep section, but on a flat-ish spot, my foot slipped a tiny bit on a rock or root or something. I tried to regain my footing, but just the tiny bit of momentum was enough for me to end up on my knees, and the weight of my backpack combined with that tiny bit of momentum had the rest of my body falling forward and to the right at the same time. My knees landed on pine needles and some twigs, and I ended up on my side with my upper right arm and shoulder on a soft bed of pine needles and moss. Kind of like I was just laying down to take a nap or something. It felt quite comical. My arm and shoulder were perfectly fine, but covered with dirt. My knee also appeared fine, but dirty, initially – until I saw some blood. Not exciting, gushing blood. More like the equivalent of a shaving nick. I climbed down the ledge, cleaned the wound with a bit of water, dried it off as best I could with my bandana, and attempted (unsuccessfully) to get a couple of band-aids to stick. I ended up tying my spare bandana around my knee.

If you’re reading the trail descriptions in the 4000-Footers of the White Mountains book, there appears to be some erroneous information in the directions to the Mt. Kinsman trailhead. Coming from the north on Route 116, we actually passed both the Kinsman Lodge and Tamarack Tennis Camps before reaching the trailhead on the left (it’s just past Tamarack Tennis Camps sign by maybe 100 yards or so). A White Mountain National Forest sign for Kinsman Trail (parallel to the road) marks the entrance. Also, there is a parking lot off-road – the stone pillars, which are set back from the road several yards, no longer had a chain between them. If you turn onto this dirt road, follow it back several yards past the stone pillars, and follow the bend to the right, you’ll see a small parking lot right there. It did fill up by the time we left, though, and there were several more cars parked along the road with us. (It is possible, however, that the dirt road to the parking lot is closed in winter.)

Location of the trailhead – as you can see here, the trailhead is just south of the tennis courts at Tamarack Tennis Camp. Across Route 116 from a cow pasture.

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