Mt. Israel Hike
Hiking/Walk DATE: 06/30/2018 - 06/30/2018
Trip/Event Location: Center Sandwich, NH
Max # People: 15
Trip Guiding / Event Fee: No, I will not be asking participants for money
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Mt. Israel features an open summit with sweeping views of the southern White Mountains!
Route 93N to Exit 24, Routes 3/25
Go 4.4 miles and once in Holderness, turn left onto Route 113.
From Center Sandwich, follow Grove Street to Diamond Ledge Road.
Bear right at the beginning of the Sandwich Notch Road and follow Diamond Ledge Road past a farm to the Mead Conversation Center. This center is the trailhead for the Wendworth Trail. We'll be driving a blue Toyota Tacoma truck.
My first trip with GO. A most rewarding workout enjoying great views and an awesome group of people! ~ Fred
Mt Israel via the Wentworth Trail: Total Distance 4.2 miles with 1700′ of elevation gain.
On a sunny, hot, hazy, humid June day, Jon and I joined 11 other GO members and Bailey for a trek up the Wentworth Trail to Mt. Israel, a small (2,630 ft.) mountain with a big view, including perhaps the best of all perspectives on the sprawling Sandwich Range.
Located outside of Center Sandwich, New Hampshire, I always get a kick driving the backcountry roads to the mountains and hiking trails in the Sandwich area. Despite its location near Squam Lake, the southern region of the White Mountains is relatively rural, with lots of working farms and pasture instead of the ski resorts and restaurants found up north. The road system is equally less developed (with little cell phone service) and it’s not uncommon to travel down a gravel or dirt road to get to a trailhead. I advise bringing a New Hampshire Gazetteer in the car when driving in the Sandwich Range and other off-the-beaten path parts of the White Mountains.
Israel Gilman was a settler who lived in this area in the 1760s. I find it interesting that his given-name of Israel was used to name this mountain, rather than his surname of Gilman. It was also of interest to learn that Moses Sweetser’s guidebook of 1876 describes a trailless route to Mt. Israel which traversed pastures for first two-thirds of the ascent. The present-day Wentworth Trail that we used for our trek doesn't traverse pastureland.
There is still a short stretch of gravel road that brought us to the Mead Base Conservation Center, a former Boy Scout Camp, now conservation center, at the foot of the Wentworth Trail. The best way to drive there is from Center Sandwich via Diamond Ledge Rd. I definitely wouldn’t recommend taking Sandwich Notch Rd unless you have a vehicle with high clearance.
Once we arrived, it’s easy to find the trail behind the main house. Tent platforms are also available for camping, along with running water and a privy.
On the lower slopes of Mt. Israel the forest is open hardwoods reminiscent of New York's Catskill Mountains. And even though the present-day route to Mt. Israel doesn't traverse any pastures (as noted in Sweetser's old guidebook), some pasture walls made of stone are still visible as we hiked along the lower end of the Wentworth Trail. For a while the trail follows an attractive small, nameless brook which Bailey, Tom’s dog sat in and drank lots of water to relieve himself from the intense heat. A lot of us were watching in envy!
Despite its low elevation at 2630′, the climb up Mt Israel is fairly strenuous, ascending 1700′ over the course of 2.1 miles. The trail is lightly blazed but heavily hiked, so the path up is easy to discern.
At 1.5 mi., a sunny, warm outlook on the left gave us a nice southerly view over the Lakes Region. We took in the view of Squam Lake and then continued on to a short rocky scramble up to the summit ridge which traverses the top of the mountain through a lovely spruce forest giving it a feel of being up on a higher mountain.
We passed the Mead Trail Junction on the left. Soon we emerged from the forest cover into the open and continue over rock and scrub. We looked for yellow blazes painted on the ledges which lead us to an opening on the north side marked by a summit cairn.
The true summit is a cairn-topped, uplifted ledge. Mt Israel is a 52-With-a-View peak that has jaw dropping views of Squam Lake and the high peaks of the Sandwich Range including Sandwich Mountain, Whiteface, Passaconaway, and Mount Chocorua. Covered with a large expense of open ledge, it’s easy to spend hours at the summit lunching in the sunlight and admiring the views!
After lunch, we followed a well-beaten path 100 yards east to ledges that are even more open. The farthest ledge has a wide view of the Ossipee Range, with Red Hill in front. Lake Winnipesaukee and the Belknap Range can also be seen from here. The NE and E-viewing ledge here is the best perch on the mountain, with an amazing panorama of the Sandwich Range!
Despite the struggle to reach the top, it felt good to be on a mountain top on such a fine day!. There’s nothing quite as rewarding as climbing a mountain and being rewarded with a sublime view. I guess that’s why we do it time and again!
After the hike, eight of us went back to the Mad River Lodge to cool off with a swim in the Mad River road followed by a delicious dinner prepared by Jon that included nachos topped with melted cheese and beef, marinated chicken kabobs, tacos with all the fixings, rice and side salad.
To sum it up, this hike provided a double treat! Not only was it a delight to hike with many GO members we’ve never met before, it was also a treat to finally return to Mt. Israel. We want to thank everyone for joining us on such an excellent adventure! We had a wonderful time.
Mike and Jon
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baezfred Jul 1, 2018 at 3:02 PM
Guys, thank you so much for an amazing weekend and for being such great hosts! Loved your beautiful and comfortable home. What you do organizing these outings is such a valuable gift to us all! I really can't find words adequate enough to express my gratitude for such a memorable experience. See you again soon!