MOUNT STARR KING/MOUNT WAUMBEK WINTER HIKE
Hiking/Walk DATE: 02/15/2020 - 02/15/2020
Trip/Event Location: Jefferson, NH
Trip Leader(s): Gandalf
Max # People: 15
Trip Guiding / Event Fee: No, I will not be asking participants for money
Difficulty Level: Moderate to Strenuous
A moderate climb through fine woods reaches Mt. Starr King and Mt. Waumbek with fine views of the Presidential Range!
The trail is generally fairly easy all the way up, with moderate grades. At 2.6...
Parking and the trailhead are in the village of Jefferson, north of US 2.
If you approach from the west, opposite the Waumbec Golf Club, .07 miles east of NH 116, you’ll see a hiker sign and a Starr King Trail sign.
If you approach from the east on US 2, it is 3.6 miles from NH 115.
The trail begins on Starr Lake Road, a gravel road to several houses that leaves the north side of US 2 [trail sign], 0.2 east of its junction with NH 115A. However the access road may not be plowed in winter so park in the plowed lot across US 2 and just west of Starr King Road. We'll be driving a blue Toyota Tacoma truck.
Via Starr King Trail. Approx 7.2 miles out and back. Includes Mt. Starr King.
-10 F at the trailhead, 16 at the Waumbek summit with negligible winds in the trees making it 5 F wind chill, 22 F back at the truck.
Sunny. A blue bird day!
Trailhead: 9:20; Waumbek Summit 1:00; back at truck 3:20 [Approx. 6 hours]
A “lowly” gem. On the 4,000 footers list, it hardly makes the grade. On our list, it more than justifies its existence!
Congrats to Keith for making it up his first winter 4,000 footer!
No, you won’t break yourself if Waumbek is your first 4,000 footer. It’s as easy as they come. Maybe a bit long, if one compares it to some of the other “gateway” mountains like Welch-Dickey, Monadnock, or the Belknaps. But for any of the 4,000 footers, this one certainly sits on the easier end of the list. The only thing that might be “hard” is that it’s a bit of a drive. Yes, Tecumseh is closer for most people. And yet, Tecumseh feels a lot more arduous. Waumbek’s slopes felt a lot gentler.
There was something about Waumbek, and its neighbor Cabot, that reminded me of the woods where we live. The understory just felt very similar. It’s winter now, so that understory is gone for the time being, but the mountain felt even more like home. It has a very easy path to its summit; welcoming, even beckoning. And you get a magnificent prize, even before you get to the top: the summit of Starr King has an unbridled view of the northern Presidential Range. Wow!
The day saw of five of us hiking and near the summit of Starr King ran into Long and his buddy. There were perhaps a dozen or so other kindred spirits on the mountain. There were solo and duo hikers. It never felt crowded. Maybe it’s the fact that if you’re hiking in winter, you suffer from a unique form of insanity, and others share it, too. Doesn’t matter: we met a lot of really nice people today, which is part of the magic of the trail!
Waumbek feels like the place I could hike often if I lived nearby. It had all the feeling of a well-worn flannel shirt; comfy, friendly, almost familiar. It’s an almost hidden gem that has a lot to offer. And that drive isn’t that bad. Just a little further than some of the other mountains, and closer than the rest, actually. We’ll be back!
Trip Report: Mike Boisvert
Photos: Jon Normand and Mike Boisvert
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What Members Are Saying About This Trip/Event
- Indigo, violet, purple, cobalt, lapis, royal and navy were some of the shades of sky blue we enjoyed on this epic hike. The contrast between sky and snow was unbelievable! - JDNnh
JDNnh Feb 17, 2020 at 5:13 PM
Comment: Indigo, violet, purple, cobalt, lapis, royal and navy were some of the shades of sky blue we enjoyed on this epic hike. The contrast between sky and snow was unbelievable!