Sunday, May 24, 2015

Livermore Trail - Easy Multi-use trail in the White Mountains

Stopping along the Livermore Trail in Waterville Valley
Sign off of Tripoli Rd directs you to trailhead
A couple weeks ago, Summit and I headed up to the Waterville Valley area to tackle Mt. Osceola - a popular 4,000 footer in the White Mountains range.  Unfortunately, when I got there, I discovered that although it was May 9th, the access road was still closed for "winter".  Hiking the road would have essentially doubled my hike, so I decided to try the Livermore Trail head, which I had passed on my drive up.  

My plan was to take the Livermore Trail and try to possibly summit South Peak of the Tripyrmids.  I felt the loop would be too challenging for the dog and on this day, hadn't allocated enough time to finish the loop.  As it turns out, I got bogged down by multiple stream crossings on the Mt. Tripyramid trail and ended up turning around.  On the bright side, I discovered that the Livermore trail is a wonderful family-friendly trail for hikers, bikers, and skiiers.  The wide-gravel trail proved to be a perfect day with the dog including multiple views of forests, streams, and cascades.  Read on below to recreate this adventure...

Livermore Trail is more like a road...
Adventure:  Livermore Trail in the Waterville Valley

Getting there: From Boston/Southern New Hampshire.  Take I-93 N to Exit 28 in Campton.  Follow Rt 49 East towards Waterville Valley.  Before you reach the town center, take a left onto Tripoli Rd.  You will pass Ski Area Rd on the left and soon after there will be a turn off onto Livermore Road Parking area on the right.  Turn here and park in the lot.  This is a White Mountain National Forest trailhead so you will need a National Park pass or $3 cash/check to pay for parking.  There are privy toilets at the trailhead.

Trail:  The Livermore Trail is more like a road than a trail.  This multi-use path is used as a ski trail for the Waterville Valley Ski Resort in winter and for hikers and mountain bikers in summer.  I'm not accustomed to seeing such wide, graded paths in the Whites and kept expecting it to narrow, but it didn't until it reached the Tripyramid loop.  The trail was a pleasant uphill and gradual climb.  It serves as a main vein for a number of smaller trails including Greeley Ponds Trail, Big Pines Path, Boulder Path, Kettles Path, and North Rapids Trail.  I stayed on the main drag - hoping to get to one of the Tripyramids.  Along the way, I enjoyed the hardwood forests and the many interactions with the Cascade Brook.  Summit enjoyed splashing in the water.  This trail had bridges and culvert crossings so no worries about wet feet!
      At 2.6 miles there is an intersection for the south end of the Mt Tripyramid Trail.  The Tripyramid loop is
Black Cascade off of Mt. Tripyramid Trail
not recommended for the casual hiker.  I've done this once before and it is a gnarly climb including a scree slope and plenty of bouldering.  I decided I'd take a right at the fork and see how far Summit and I could get up the South Tripyramid before we needed to turn around.   Right away, we had a wide river crossing across Avalanche Brook.  Unfortunately, the river was high and there were no dry crossings.  I gave it my best shot, but...SPLASH... I slipped on a rock and ended up submerged to my shins.  After wringing out my socks, I continued.  The trail narrowed and meandered up into the woods.  It was evident that the trail had not been frequented and was in need of trail work.  Heading up the path, I saw no blazes (unusual for the Whites), although on the decent I saw some.  Also, the deeper we hiked, the more moose droppings we encountered. At about 1 mile in, I think we encountered what on the map is labeled as "Black Cascade".  It was a beautiful spot - rushing cascades and small waterfalls.  I could see the trail on the other side of the cascade but with high/fast water I decided it wasn't worth the risk to cross (and then cross again on my return).  It was here that we turned around and hiked the 3.6-ish miles back to the parking lot.

Junction for Tripyramid Loop
Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 2.6 miles one way to Mt.Tripyramid junction.  I continued another ~1 mile on Mt. Tripyramid Trail before turning around at Black Cascade.  (~7 miles total)

Recommendations: 

- This is an easy climb and a nice wide/graded trail - perfect for families with young children or people who need an easier hike but still want to see the White Mountains.

Views of Cascade Brook
- The Livermore trail does not provide mountain views- although it had lovely streams and forest.

- Try one of the short offshoots to elongate your hike.

- Make sure to bring a National Park Pass or $3 exact so you can park in the lot.

Even though it wasn't the 4,000 footer I had planned on tackling when I got in the car that day, the dog and I enjoyed this forest hike among the trees and water.  It's always exciting to discover another trail.

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You might also enjoy the following posts: 

Mt. Pemigewasset Fall Hike 

Sugarloafs - 2000 footers with amazing views

3 Great Spring Hikes in Northern New England

Summit and I enjoy a girls day out in the White Mountains!

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