The Middle of Nowhere in the White Mountains!


Mt Caribou Area from the Faint Trail in the Meadow, Haystack Notch Trail
If you haven't figured it out yet with all these obscure trails I hike, I am a red liner.  I guess I've been a red liner before we were called red liners...I thought it was just this fun little thing I did exploring obscure and odd trails to see what's out there.  Anyways...this week I just about met my match on the obscure and odd trails list!
Haystack Notch is in the Caribou Speckled Mountain Wilderness over in the Evans Notch Area.  It
That's the Trail!
doesn't have a lot of drama but if you like places where NO ONE else has been...here you are!  I hiked into it from the West Bethel Maine side and managed to get lost twice before I even found the trailhead!  The book says the trail starts with a faint path up the right side of a large green field so I had assumed that once into the woods the "faint" part would become more distinct.  Nope!!!  The first mile was along a beautiful river on what felt like an old unimproved logging road.  I thought maybe we'd get a more distinct path once finally in the National Forest.  Nope again!!!  We did have faint yellow blazes to follow but I was reduced to following the dip in the leaves on the ground
And the very pretty West Branch of Miles Brook
and I got lost ANOTHER 3 times!  THEN we entered the Caribou Speckled Mountain Wilderness and of course the policy of Wilderness Areas is the least amount of improvement possible.  This translates to very few blazes so my trusty faint blazes were no longer a resource.  Amazingly I only got lost once in the last 1 1/2 miles here.  The height of land I only recognized from coming in from the other side.  There are some very large erratic boulders peppered throughout the woods and if you look up through the trees to the North you might be able to glimpse a small cliff above you through the trees.  The height of land was nicer in the fall with less leaves on the trees, but of course that would be an even harder to follow trail!
If you attempt this trail, be sure to leave your complete destination with someone who cares about
Again...that's the trail on the left side of the river on the rocks!
you and have your flashlight and weather gear with you!  I did this 7 mile hike in the afternoon and didn't note my time before I left the car.  Rain was coming in and it was getting progressively darker in the woods and with the lack of landmarks and easily discernible trail, let me tell you...it was probably one of the spookiest hikes I've ever done!  I was well aware that if I was caught in the dark, even with my flashlight, I was probably going to have to bivy for a very cold wet uncomfortable night until the sun returned!  Always an adventure!!!
The leaves are just barely starting to fall up here in the north country and most of the kids are back in school meaning that the trails during the week are unoccupied again for the most part!   If interested in exploring Haystack Notch you will find the trail on AMC Map #5 Carter Range-Evans Notch.  The complete trail is described in the AMC White Mountain Guide!

Happy Hiking!!!
Joyce

For any general questions, conditions information, or trail advice, please feel free to contact us here at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center front desk. We are available by phone at (603) 466-2721 every day from 6:30 AM to 10:00 PM or by email at amcpinkhaminfo@outdoors.org. To make reservations at AMC Lodges and Huts, please call (603)466-2727 available Monday through Saturday 9am-5pm. Be sure to check weather conditions before you come and call us here with any questions! We'll see you up here!  

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