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Little East Pond and East Pond Loop
East Pond (2600'), Little East Pond (2596')
East Pond Trail, Little East Pond Trail, East Pond Loop
NH - Central East
White Mountain National Forest, Waterville Valley
Ponds, brooks, views, loop hike
1000 feet (cumulative)
SDHers: Diane, Dianne, Mark, Claudette, Dennis, Kristin, Jim, Jack, Karen, Donna, Jackie, John
This is a loop hike to Little East Pond and East Pond. East Pond provides a nice setting for lunch with room to spread out as well as wide views of the pond and the mountains rising around it.
Start on East Pond Trail and follow it for 0.4 mile.
Upon reaching a signed trail junction, turn left onto Little East Pond Trail, leaving East Pond Trail which continues straight.
After 1.7 miles on Little East Pond Trail, you will run into Little East Pond, where Little East Pond Trail ends.
To continue the loop, turn right onto East Pond Loop and follow it for 1.5 miles where it will end upon meeting East Pond Trail.
Cross East Pond Trail to follow a spur for 40 yards to the shore of the pond.
After enjoying the pond, take the spur trail back to the junction of East Pond Trail and then turn left. Going right would eventually take you to Kancamagus Highway after 3.7 miles so be sure to turn left which will bring you back to the parking area on Tripoli Road after 1.4 miles.
East Pond Trailhead (1800')
Little East Pond
East Pond Trailhead (1800')
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This was a pleasant loop hike to Little East Pond and East Pond. I hiked it with ten other Seacoast Dayhikers on a humid, but not overly hot day. Two more from our club started later and caught up with us at East Pond.
We started uphill on a wide grassy track on East Pond Trail. After just 0.4 mile, we turned left to follow Little East Pond Trail. The route from this junction to the Clear Brook crossing, 0.7 mile later, goes gradually uphill and is part of the former Woodstock and Thornton Gore Railroad which operated as a logging line from 1909 to 1914. The western part of Tripoli Road also follows this railroad bed.
Clear Brook is down in a small ravine and the crossing was just a little precarious due to the heavy water flow from all the recent rain. However, we all managed to get across without getting wet.
From Clear Brook to Little East Pond is one mile which starts with an easy climb that soon becomes more moderate. Along this section I saw some trillium in fruit and some shinleaf (
) which is a low-growing plant with basal leaves and waxy, white, down-turned flowers loosely spaced along its stem. Speaking of waxy and white, there were also some ghostly-looking all-white Indian pipe plants (
) along this section.
At the top of a long hill, the trail bumps right into Little East Pond. The water levels of the pond can vary due both to weather and beavers. When we were there the shoreline was about six feet from the trails and afforded only a narrow view to the pond without getting your feet wet.
Little East Pond is about three acres and is shallow with grasses and lily pads emerging from the water. All three peaks of Scar Ridge can be seen rising about 1000 feet above the pond with the tallest one reaching a height of 3774 feet.
Since there was no room to easily enjoy this outlook, we struck out on East Pond Loop which would lead us to East Pond after 1.5 miles. This was a narrow, easily undulating trail through woods rich with moss, ferns, mushrooms, and abundant and large
bluebead lily plants (
East Pond Loop ends where it meets East Pond Trail. You could turn left onto East Pond Trail and travel along it a short ways for some additional prospects to East Pond; or you can simply cross East Pond Trail (veering a bit to the left) to follow the spur trail for 40 yards to the open shoreline of East Pond.
At the end of the spur are great views of both the pond and the mountains rising above it. Part of Scar Ridge is visible to the left and West Peak of Mount Osceola to the right; in between is a wide U-shaped valley. The shoreline is rimmed by small rocks and there is quite a bit of room to spread out, including a little grassy area to the right, behind which runs East Pond Brook.
East Pond is 6.5-acres and is 27 feet deep. Lots of people swim here although there are leeches. Jack had a nice dip without incident. Dennis and Diane purposefully let a leech crawl on them but it didn't bite. Surprisingly, although all leeches feed on blood, only about 10% of the species can bite; the others feed on decomposing bodies or open wounds. And its unlikely that even the biting ones would attach to you while you're moving. Nevertheless, I opted not to swim.
From 1910 to 1916, the bottom of East Pond was mined for its tripoli deposits originating from the era when an inland sea covered this region. Tripoli, also known as diatomaceous earth, is the fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae mostly consisting of silica.
Tripoli can be used as a mild abrasive (such as for toothpaste and metal polishes), for filtration, and as an insecticide, among other things. The material mined from East Pond was processed at the Livermore Tripolite Company's mill, formerly located near the junction of East Pond and Little East Pond trails. The mill closed due to difficulties in separating impurities, although tripoli sediments still exist at the bottom of the pond.
After a leisurely lunch at the shore, we retraced our steps on the spur trail, then turned left to follow East Pond Trail for 1.4 miles back to the parking area. This was a wide, rocky trail which descended steadily. We crossed East Pond Brook on a nice wooden bridge with small cascades just upstream from the crossing. Closer to the end of our hike, we walked past showy displays of tall fireweed with its bright pink flowers.
It was a perfect morning/early afternoon hike and we finished just shortly before more heavy rains started.
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The trailhead is located in the Waterville Valley region of New Hampshire off of Tripoli Road.
Take exit 31 onto Tripoli Road.
Follow Tripoli Road east for 5.3 miles from the I-93 underpass.
Turn left onto a dirt drive that leads to a roomy parking area.
The trailhead is at the far end of the parking lot.
Tripoli Road is closed in the winter.
Check out the
White Mountain National Forest's road status page
for the most up-to-date information on road closures.
WMNF Recreational Pass
A parking permit is required to park at White Mountain National Forest trailheads and parking areas. You can purchase a WMNF permit from the forest service and other vendors and can also pay-by-the-day using self-service kiosks located in many parking areas.
For more information on parking passes please refer to the
White Mountain National Forest website
$5 per day
$30 for a year-long pass
$40 for a year for a household
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