Camel Trail – Mount Washington, New Hampshire
Random Trail History, White Mountains – Think about these White Mountains history facts for a moment. Crawford Path is the oldest continuously-used mountain trail in America. Trail maker Charles E. Lowe and Dr. William G. Nowell built Lowe’s Path in 1875-1876. Nathaniel Davis, son-in-law of Abel and Hannah Crawford, built Davis Path in 1845. Nathaniel L. Goodrich (1880-1957) is considered to be the founder of peakbagging in the White Mountains.
In this era of outdoor recreation (camping, fishing, hiking, etc.) the ones who explored the New Hampshire White Mountains before us are being forgotten about. So today’s blog article focuses on random tidbits of history surrounding the White Mountains trail system.
Appalachian Trail – Mount Moosilauke, New Hampshire
Rock Cairns, Trail Stewardship – A rock cairn is a man-made pile of rocks that marks a landmark or the route of a hiking trail above tree line. They have been used for many centuries and vary in size from one foot to massive piles of rocks. The word “cairn” is Scottish and means a “heap of stones”. Cairns are found throughout the New Hampshire White Mountains, and they make great photo subjects. My favorite ones are along the Appalachian Trail on the summit of Mount Moosilauke.
For some time now there has been an increasing concern about rock stacking (random piles of rocks) on public lands. People are innocently building rock cairn look a likes along beaches, rivers, and trails, and it is drawing both positive and negative attention. Out west, rock stacking is a major problem. Here in the White Mountains, fake cairns built along the trails can cause navigation confusion for hikers, but that is for another blog article.
Bemis Bridge – Crawford Notch, New Hampshire
Davis Path, White Mountains – Davis Path, completed in 1845 by Nathaniel Davis, son-in-law of Abel and Hannah Crawford, was the third and longest bridle path built to the summit of Mount Washington. The path was in use until about 1853-1854, and then it was neglected and became unusable. In 1910 it was reopened as a footpath. Today, the path is just over 14 miles long with most of it being within the Presidential Range – Dry River Wilderness.
The Davis Path begins in Crawford Notch, near the Notchland Inn, and crosses the Saco River by use of the 168 foot long Bemis Bridge (above). The Bemis Bridge, named after Samuel A. Bemis, is considered to be an asymmetrical cable stay bridge, and is also the start of the 165 mile long Cohos Trail.
Davis Path Reconstruction – White Mountains, New Hampshire
Davis Path, AMC Trail Work – In July of 2012, I had the opportunity to hike into the Dry River Wilderness in the New Hampshire White Mountains to photograph stonework that is being built along the Davis Path. A professional AMC Trail crew, with the help of volunteers, is working on a trail project repairing heavy erosion damage along a section of Davis Path.
With the use of low impact practices and adhering to trail maintenance guidelines, this trail crew is doing an outstanding job repairing the trail. The stonework looks excellent, blends in well with its surroundings, and should last for years. The care being taken to conserve Davis Path is awesome. Kudos to the trail crew!