Mahoosucs Morning from North Percy
Percy GPS Track Another Percy View
North & South Percy Peaks are in the Nash Stream Forest in the town of Stratford......But we will call it the town of Stark, as this is probably easier to find on a map. (Sorry town of Stratford.) The COHOs trail goes overf both summits, but as side trips. The best maps I could find are at the COHOS Trail website. These come in handy if you are hiking in the North Country. Sugarloaf Mountain just up the Nash Stream Road is a worthy weekend combo for two hikes.
The Summit of North Percy Peak looks like a slab of rock on top. South Percy has a more wooded look, but has its own character.
To get there you need to get on NH110 and turn on to Emerson Road until you reach the Nash Stream Road, which is the road you can take for this hike. (There is also a more Southerly approach that goes by Christine Lake and Victor Head that are not in these instructions, which I bet would be great too.) I tackled the hike going up the Percy Peaks trail that starts just before Slide Brook. The small parking is about 50 feet away from the trailhead and Slide Brook. Nash Stream was bubbling nicely right across the road. The climb up is moderate to start, and follows near Slide Brook for a bit. As you get closer to approaching the Col between the two peaks the steepness gets more pronounced. You can tell there have been several re-routes to help with erosion. You reach a point on the trail where there is a rope to help you up on a slabby rock. I think this is where the old steeper trail on the exposed ledges that Miriam and Robert Underhill helped create, but is now closed. I would like to climb North Percy Peak this way next time. But it was wet when I did this hike, so no way am I getting on those ledges when it is wet.
The trail still stays steep and then as you approach the Col moderates. You get views of South Percy Peak and the valley towards Groveton. When you reach the trail junction I decided to climb South Percy Peak first. There is a sign that says “Old Summer Trail”, and you drop down a bit following it. There is a sharp corner, and the COHOS trail goes to the left and there is a three dotted yellow blaze and a weaker trail in front of you. Take this obvious trail in front of you with the three dotted blazes (even though I think it is only a few years removed from herd path status.), but still a bit rough and tumble than you might be used too. There is a decent view point right before the summit, but you are really close to the summit now. You get several good views towards the Mahoosuc mountains in Maine, West Long Mountain, The Pilots, The Horn, The Northern Presidentials, Victor Head and of course North Percy. There is a summit cannister also that you can sign into.
I can see how this mountain could get overlooked, with North Percy getting all of the attention. This summit rocks in my opinion. It is more wooded and smaller, but has quite a personality.
I then dropped back down the mountain back towards the COHOS trail. And followed the trail a bit until you get to a sign that says “North Percy”. Guess what? You climb this trail to get to the North Percy Summit. The cool thing is the use of orange colored blazes, as this is not a common color to use for trail markings. This part of the hike is steep, but quick. You will break mostly above tree line, and the slabs will be slippery if it has rained recently, which makes this part more dangerous. The views rock though! There is a summit sign and two benchmarks. The summit is very broad and you can walk around it to take in all the views, and the slab which you I mentioned earlier that the Underhill‘s used to climb; which I think would be fun. I watched a sunset and a sunrise on this summit, and those will be in my memory for a long time. You can see into Maine and Vermont. The peaks in the Nash Stream Valley that I climbed in the Summer of 2006 were all around. The Mahoosuc mountains looked incredible in the distance, and all those mountains South in the White Mountain National Forest don’t look too shabby either. I think the amount of mountains I could make out was amazing, and that puts this hike way up there. It also helped the trees had that foliage thing going on.
The hike down to the COHOS trail is steep, but not bad. I decided to make this a loop hike, and so I went down towards the Long Mountain Brook side. The trail is not as steep as the Slide Brook part of the trail, but it has parts which are more rough. I saw some of the largest birch paper/bark pieces ever right on the trail, which was really cool. There is a place called Percy Campsite that is the only legal area to camp. I actually followed the rules and camped here. This was tough to get up in the morning to see the sunrise on North Percy though. The campsite is near a stream, has a tent platform, and a privy. It is a good setup actually. The hike out from here to the Nash Stream Road is wide and a gentler grade as it is an old logging road. When you get out the road near Long Mountain Brook you can see the other parking area you could use across the road. It is a small parking area and it is someone’s driveway, so I guess don’t block it unless you are a jerk. And now you have a road walk that is in the mile range back to your car to your left as you leave the trail.
I’m just giving you the hike I did. Like I said there is another way up from the South, you could do this hike the opposite direction, and that bushwhack up the steep slab would be cool too. (But do some research, as you don’t want to be that dude or dudette that we read in the paper about sliding to their death. But if I get to keep you gear, then go for it baby!)
The Nash Stream Road is a gated road, so expect it to be closed in the Winter and until the late Spring. (But remember the Southern approach is still and option for those periods.) I think Autumn is the time to hike this area, as the foliage and extended visibility make for a good combination. Ok, August blueberries would be yummy too!
The parking areas are small and easy to miss for the Slide Brook or the Long Mountain Brook trailheads, but just keep in mind there are signs that point out the brooks on the side of the road. So if you go past them, then you have gone past the parking areas.
To repeat, the summits of these two mountains are hard to beat. Sure these mountains are probably more Northerly then you have hiked before, but make a weekend of it exploring the two Percy Peaks and then the next day hike Sugarloaf Mountain right down the Nash Stream Road. And Boom, you have a weekend adventure you will want to repeat again and again…..And if you do bite the big one doing the slab bushwhack, then remember me with the free gear in your will.