Mount Wolf

Mountain:  Mt. Wolf (3500')
Trails:  Reel Brook Trail, Kinsman Ridge Trail, Appalachian Trail
Region:  NH - Central West  
White Mountain National Forest, Cannon-Kinsman Region
Location:  Easton, NH
Rating:  Moderate  
Features:  Summit, views, brooks, rock scrambles
Distance:  9.6 miles  
Elevation Gain:  2200 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Actual: 5:16   Typical: 5:55  
Outing Duration:  Typical: 8:00  
Season:  Summer
Hike Date:  08/17/2002 (Saturday)  
Last Updated:  09/22/2008  
Weather:  70-80 degrees
Author:  Webmaster

Route Summary   

This is a hike to Mount Wolf which provides good views to Franconia Ridge. It follows Reel Brook Trail all the way to its end and then turns right to follow Kinsman Ridge Trail to Mount Wolf. The return trip is via the same route.

  • Start on Reel Brook Trail and follow it for 1.3 miles, crossing a few small streams en route.
  • The trail will then turn left to join a wide logging road which emerges beneath some power lines after 100 yards. On the way back be careful not to miss this turn off the logging road and back onto the trail - it is marked by a small faded brown sign with a yellow arrow - but you may still be tempted to keep on trucking down the wide logging road if you're not paying attention.
  • Cross the power line clearing at a diagnol beneath the lines on a wide, mowed/flattened path to hook up with another woods path on the other side.
  • Continue on Reel Brook Trail for another 0.6 mile. You will cross a tributary once and Reel Brook three times. After the third crossing follow the trail to the right on a logging road.
  • A half-mile beyond the third brook crossing, go straight while the logging road veers off to the left; and then 100 yards later bear right at another logging road intersection.
  • One more mile of climbing up Reel Brook Trail will bring you to a T-junction with Kinsman Ridge Trail which is also the Appalachian Trail (AT).
  • Turn right onto Kinsman Ridge Trail/Appalachian Trail and follow it for 1.9 miles. At this point the path widens a bit and there's a white "Kinsman Ridge Trail" sign with arrows pointing in both directions. Opposite this sign, is the barely noticeable and unsigned spur path to the Mount Wolf outlook.
  • Turn left onto the spur path and follow it for 60 yards to reach the east knob of Mount Wolf.
  • Return via the same route.

Place         Split
Reel Brook Trailhead (1400') 0.0 0.0 0:00 0:00
Jct. trail/wide logging road below power lines 1.3 1.3 0:33 0:33
Fork at third stream crossing 0.6 1.9 0:35 1:08
Jct. Reel Brook Trail/Kinsman Ridge Trail (AT) (2600') 1.0 2.9 0:21 1:29
Mt. Wolf (3500') 1.9 4.8 1:23 2:52
Jct. Reel Brook Trail/Kinsman Ridge Trail (AT) (2600') 1.9 6.7 1:15 4:07
Fork at third stream crossing 1.0 7.7 0:26 4:33
Jct. trail/wide logging road below power lines 0.6 8.3 0:15 4:48
Reel Brook Trailhead (1400') 1.3 9.6 0:28 5:16


Steeplebush (photo by Webmaster)

Map of hike route to Mount Wolf (map by Webmaster)

Trail Guide   

This trail was a pleasant surprise. The AMC book warned that the trail would be muddy and it sounded like there would be lots of chances to take the wrong trail. But the trail junctions were well described (but not marked, and no trail blazes that I noticed on Reel Brook Trail); and I hiked during a dry spell so the mud was minimal. The few places there was mud, were easy to get around with well-placed rocks and logs.

Cliff visible from the power lines (photo by Webmaster) The first 1.3-mile leg is a pleasant footpath along easy terrain with a few easy stream crossings. Then I came out to a wide logging road 100 yards below the power lines. Be careful not to miss this turn on the way back - it is marked by a small faded brown sign with a yellow arrow - but you may still be tempted to keep on trucking down the wide logging road if you're not paying attention.

A wide, mowed/flattened path crosses beneath the power lines and hooks up with another woods path on the other side. Here, Reel Brook babbles along the trail. In places it's strewn with many smaller boulders and in other places it flows over large sections of exposed rock. I crossed the stream three times (not counting the first tributary stream) and all the crossings were easy.

The third crossing occurs 1.9 miles into the hike. Just before this crossing, a logging road descends from the left - it probably leads to the power lines. Head up the logging road on the far side of the brook. This is a yucky, steeper section with poor footing.

After another half-mile, the trail continues straight up, while the main logging road turns left and meets up with the power lines in about 50 yards. I took a little detour and stopped at the end of this spur for a surprisingly pleasant break. If you can ignore the power lines, there's some really pretty views. A big, high cliff was right in front of me when standing at the end of the road (looking across the power lines); and looking downhill were lots of mountainous views - most likely Vermont mountains; I think the compass reading was NW. Uphill about 25 yards, I saw a big, inviting, flat rock. A small section of it was broken away and underneath was a different type of rock. There were also many pretty wildflowers here: something that looked like cotton sedge (probably tawny cotton grass) but maybe taller and more beige than white; swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris) - small, pretty clusters of bright yellow lily-like flowers with a tiny, short, stripe of maroon on each petal and around the center; and steeplebush (Spiraea tomentosa) - a small shrub with pretty pinkish/purplish flowers. There's a stream running on the far side of the power lines. A pretty little cascade fed into a pool with gross-looking algae.

Rock ledge with a different type of rock beneath (photo by Webmaster)

After hanging out here for about an hour (so much for a quick break - nice breeze here!), I continued up the trail. In another 100 yards, another logging trail intersection - bear right. From about here is the start of another neat woods walk and easier inclines: mossy areas, rocky areas, Indian pipes (neat, pure white plants). Before I knew it (in a half-mile), I was at the junction with Kinsman Ridge Trail/Appalachian Trail.

Kinsman Ridge was a surprise too. I expected it to be wide open and be populated with lots of people. Instead it seemed to be a path even less significant than the footpath leading up to it - if not for the AT thru-hikers, I think the forest would reclaim the trail. The route has woods on both sides with hints of views but no real glimpses - but I could definitely see lots of sky on both sides.

Cascade under the power lines (photo by Webmaster) There was more Indian pipe along this trail and lots of neat and colorful mushrooms. One looked like a rain catcher with a slightly funnel-type top and a hollow stem which was open from the top.

After following this trail for about an hour, I met a thru-hiker from Michigan - the only person I saw all day. The trail climbed steadily towards Mount Wolf with several little steep sections interspersed with minor descents and easier sections. The frequent white AT blazes were reassuring since many parts of the trail looked more like a rock jumble than a footpath - I had to use my hands pretty often.

After an hour and twenty minutes on Kinsman Ridge Trail/Appalachian Trail, the path widens a bit and here there's a white "Kinsman Ridge Trail" sign with arrows pointing in both directions. Opposite this sign, is the barely noticeable and unsigned spur path to the Mount Wolf outlook.

The spur trail starts out steeply and quickly (in about 60 yards) leads to the outlook. There's one big boulder that serves for the outlook and the rest is wooded. There's a good view of the entire Franconia Ridge and I could see the town of Lincoln. I could also look to the far left to see Cannon Mountain. The best views are from a standing position but I could still get some good views sitting down too.

I left the summit after a while. The hike back down was pretty easy and uneventful. It was dark enough that I used a flashlight for the last mile.
Swamp candles (photo by Webmaster)


NH - Central West

  Driving Directions   

The Reel Brook Trailhead is located in Easton, New Hampshire.

From Route 116:
  • Turn onto Reel Brook Road which is on the east side of Rt. 116 in Easton. This turn-off is marked by a hiker sign and is on the right, 3.7 miles north of the junction of Routes 112 and 116; or on the left 1.1 miles south of Easton's town hall.
  • Reel Brook Road isn't plowed in the winter and is rough even in the summer.
  • Follow Reel Brook Road for 0.6 mile, until you see another hiker sign, then take a left (if you dare) into a small field that serves as a parking area. This will probably be no problem for SUV's, but cars with low underbodies need to be very careful of all the rocks popping out of the ground. Once you get past the entry way, the field itself is much smoother.

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