Member Trip report
Mt. Osceola's Split Cliff
Trip Report/Photos from Gandalf
Reading the old AMC Hiking Guides, it mentioned there was a herd path about 1/4 mile past the summit of Mt. Osceola that diverges to the North, leading a short distance to the Split Cliff, an unusual formation with a spectacular view. GayOutdoors is the trail adopter for the Mt. Osceola Trail and I thought to myself, wouldn't it be cool to find Split Cliff to reopen this herd path. My goal for the day was to bushwhack to Split Cliff on the northern ridge of the mountain. I've found a few mentions of this location, but no concrete reports.
The Mount Osceola Trail has to be the most moderate, switchbacky trail in the Whites. It's pretty rocky for the first mile or so, but never steep. I got to the summit and continued along the trail for another quarter mile or so...or that's what I thought! The woods look pretty thick alongside the trail and the only thing I've heard about this 'whack is that it is really thick. Prepared for the worst, I plunged in and started pushing through spruce.
I headed down in the dense clusters of branches. I did not want to push through spruce and find myself falling off a ledge. I meandered for an hour, looking for the Split Cliff. I got fairly scratched up in my arms and legs ~ and I lost some blood.
I pushed through to the spruce near a drop off and I peered over to find a rock formation to the west so I whacked over to get a better perspective. Looking east, I found the actual Split Cliff. After about another half hour of whacking I found it and popped out on a ledge!
Awesome views to the north and west including the Franconia Range, Mt. Garfield, Bonds, Hancocks, Carrigain and Mt. Washington further back. After a few photos, I went back into the woods and climbed up to a better vantage point a little higher on the cliffs. This is a spectacular location, I spent a good half hour taking photos, enjoying the views and having lunch.
Having found it, now I could search for an easier way back to the trail. Once I got past the dense cluster of spruce surrounding Split Cliff, I found myself in some nice, open woods. Then, they stayed open as I started climbing back toward the trail. Awesome! I followed the ridge for about a quarter mile and then I hit another wall of spruce. After pushing through for about 50 feet I found myself back on the trail.
Looking at my exit point, I realized that I started my bushwhack too early. My exit point was about where the main descent to the col starts...not too far from the top of the Chimney. In the future, I would at least like to open up this 50 feet wall of spruce to the open woods leading to Split Cliff...and over time continue picking away at creating a herd path to it.
I then hiked back up to the main summit ledges [scratched and bloody] for some relaxation. I hung out on the ledges for a while and then returned back to my truck. I felt great and proud of my bushwhack bruises and blood!
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