Steve (photo by Mark Malnati)

Mt. Nancy, Nancy Cascades, Norcross Pond

Destinations:  Mt. Nancy (3926'), Nancy Cascades (2750'), Nancy Pond (3100'), Norcross Pond (3120')
Trails:  Nancy Pond Trail, Mount Nancy Trail
Region:  NH - Central East  
White Mountain National Forest, Carrigain Region
Location:  Harts Location, NH
Rating:  Difficult  
Features:  Summit, views, cascades, waterfall, ponds, brooks
Distance:  Approximately 10.0 miles  
Elevation Gain:  3000 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Typical: 6:30  
Outing Duration:  Typical: 9:00  
Season:  Fall
Hike Date:  10/04/2008 (Saturday)  
Author:  Faye Doria, Diane King
Companions:  Ten SDHers, 3 dogs

View of the Pemigewasset Wilderness and the Bonds from the outlet of Norcross Pond (photo by Mark Malnati)

Route Summary   

This is an out-and-back hike to Nancy Cascades, Nancy Pond (4 acres), Norcross Pond (7 acres), and Mount Nancy. All are interesting destinations and there are mountainous views from a couple locations en route as well as from atop Mount Nancy. See Route Options for shorter and easier alternatives to this hike.

You will be following Nancy Pond Trail all the way to the outlet of Norcross Pond before diverging onto an unmaintained trail in order to summit Mount Nancy.

  • Start at the trailhead on Route 302 and follow Nancy Pond Trail for 2.4 miles, crossing Nancy Brook twice, in order to reach the foot of the tall Nancy Cascades and a shady pool. The trail is marked with both signs and yellow paint blazes and climbs moderately.
  • Steve balancing on the narrow round logs by Norcross Pond to cross a wet area (photo by Mary Sheldon)
  • Beyond the cascades, continue climbing moderately to arrive at Nancy Pond on the left after 1.0 mile. While climbing, make sure you pause and look behind you out to the view of Stairs Mountain, and also look towards the cascades to get a different perspective of the water dropping over the ledges.
  • Continue for another 0.9 mile along the now almost-level Nancy Pond Trail which will bring you to the outlet and far end of Norcross Pond. Along the way, the trail hugs the shoreline and when Norcross Pond first comes into view, you get a wonderful view across the water to the mountains beyond. At the outlet is a small ledgy area that makes for a perfect picnic spot and offers a nice prospect of the pond in one direction and views of the Pemigewasset Wilderness in the opposite direction.
  • Nancy Pond Trail crosses Norcross Brook and continues but you should leave this trail before crossing the brook. Look for an unmaintained trail, which I will call Mount Nancy Trail. The trail is just before Norcross Brook, it goes past a couple campsites and should be fairly obvious to follow.
  • Climb Mount Nancy Trail steeply for 0.7 mile to arrive at the summit of Mount Nancy which provides many views.
  • Retrace your steps to return to the trailhead. When at the bottom of Mount Nancy Trail, remember to bear left to hike along the edge of Norcross Pond on Nancy Pond Trail rather than crossing Norcross Brook and hiking Nancy Pond Trail in the wrong direction.


Natural dam at the outlet of Norcross Pond (photo by Mark Malnati) Mary and Zvijezda crossing Nancy Brook (photo by Mark Malnati)

  Route Options   

This outing allows for a choice of three overlapping hikes making it flexible enough to please a group of hikers with various abilities and objectives. Your choices are an Easy/Moderate hike, a Moderate hike, or a Difficult hike. The scenery is such that it shouldn't be any hardship for those doing a shorter option to hang out and wait (provided it's not too cold) for those doing the longer options to return so that you can all descend together if desired.

The Easy/Moderate Hike: Take Nancy Pond Trail just to Nancy Cascades. This hike is 4.8 miles round-trip with just under 1,500 feet of elevation gain. It's perfect for those that haven't done much hiking this year, or if you want to bring a child or non-hiking friend. Nancy Cascades are a beautiful waterfall, somewhere between 150 feet and 300 feet tall, depending on who is doing the measuring. You can go at a leisurely pace, have lunch and relax at the falls.

Water crossing (photo by Mark Malnati)

The Moderate Hike: This hike goes to Nancy Cascades, then on to Nancy and Norcross Ponds covering 8.6 miles, with 2,180 feet of elevation gain. The trail climbs more steeply after the cascades, with great views of the mountains behind you as you traverse the switchbacks. There isn't a peak at the top. Instead you will find a virgin spruce forest and 4-acre Nancy Pond. The trail goes along the north shore and reaches a height-of-land with Norcross Pond beyond. Nancy Pond drains to the Saco River, but 7-acre Norcross Pond drains to the Pemigewasset River.

At the west end of Norcross Pond is a ledgy natural dam that gives a stunning view of the Pemigewasset Wilderness and the Bond mountains. That sight is truly worth the trip! We did this hike a few years ago and I went back just for that view, now that I have actually climbed Mount Bond.

Norcross Pond (photo by Mark Malnati)

The Difficult Hike: In addition to reaching Nancy Cascades, Nancy Pond, and Norcross Pond, this hike is for those who want to bag Mount Nancy (one of New England's 100 Highest at 3,926 feet). This is accomplished via an unmarked route from the end of Norcross Pond. I think it's another 0.7 mile or so to Mount Nancy. And then you have to return to Norcross Pond and descend.
  Trail sign (photo by Mark Malnati)

Zvijezda hiking up Mount Nancy Trail (photo by Mary Sheldon)

SDHers enjoying Nancy Cascades (photo by Mark Malnati)

Quincy playing in the water (photo by Mark Malnati)

Crawford Notch with Webster Cliffs on the right as seen from Mt. Nancy (photo by Mark Malnati)

Place         Split
Parking area on Rt. 302 (940') 0.0 0.0
First Nancy Brook crossing 1.6 1.6
Foot of Nancy Cascades (2400') 0.8 2.4
Nancy Pond (3100') 1.0 3.4
Far end of Norcross Pond (3120') 0.9 4.3
Mt. Nancy summit (3926') 0.7 5.0
Far end of Norcross Pond (3120') 0.7 5.7
Nancy Pond (3100') 0.9 6.6
Foot of Nancy Cascades (2400') 1.0 7.6
First Nancy Brook crossing 0.8 8.4
Parking area on Rt. 302 (940') 1.6 10.0


Trail map of hike route to Nancy Cascades, Nancy Pond, Norcross Pond, and Mount Nancy (map by Webmaster)

Trail Guide   

On Saturday, October 4th, ten Seacoast Dayhikers and three dogs traveled to Nancy Cascades for some wonderful viewing of the cascades. One person departed after that and the rest continued on to Nancy and Norcross Ponds.

Three of our group ventured farther to the far end of Norcross Pond where we came upon an open campsite in the center with Nancy Pond Trail continuing left to the Pemigewasset Wilderness. You can take that trail over the rocky water crossing of Norcross Brook and travel over to Carrigain which leads to the Desolation Trial.

View east from Mt. Nancy's summit (photo by Mark Malnati)

We instead about-faced and took the unmarked trail to the left. When you come upon the campsite and turn around you see Nancy Pond Trail to the right and a straight dead tree in the middle leaning slightly and an opening through the woods that leads to another campground. You bear left from that campsite and travel until you reach a slide. A few feet from the slide is an unmaintained steep trail that goes about 0.7 mile to the top of Mount Nancy where fantastic views of Mount Washington, Webster Cliffs and Mount Jackson as well as North Tripyramid and the span of Crawford Notch can be seen in dramatic color at this time of year.

We took several photos of the views from the summit and also one of Mary and her faithful canine companion, Zvijezda, on top of yet another of "New England's 100 Highest" peaks; a list they have been working on.

We headed back out with people more or less paired up to end our trip. There was something for all to enjoy on this hike and we were appreciative to Faye for introducing us to this area that many of us had not yet explored.
Mary and Zvijezda atop Mt. Nancy - another completed on their New England's 100 Highest checklist (photo by Mary Sheldon)

Start of Mount Nancy Tail (photo by Mary Sheldon) Unmaintained trail warning on Mount Nancy Trail (photo by Mark Malnati) Mark climbing up a steep part of Mount Nancy Trail (photo by Mary Sheldon)


NH - Central East

  Driving Directions   

Slide on Mount Nancy Trail (photo by Mark Malnati) The Nancy Pond Trailhead is located on the west side of Route 302 in Harts Location, New Hampshire.

Heading West on Rt. 302
  • The trailhead and parking area are on the left 2.8 miles beyond Sawyer Rock Picnic Area which is also on the left.

Heading East on Rt. 302
  • The trailhead and parking area are on the right, 6.7 miles beyond the Willey House Historical Site which is located in Crawford Notch State Park.

Other Notes   

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
  About Nancy Brook Research Natural Area   

Nancy Pond in October 2008 (photo by Mark Malnati) Nancy Brook Research Natural Area encompasses 1,385 acres in Livermore and Harts Location, New Hampshire. To the west, it bumps against the Pemigewasset Wilderness Area. Running through the property, roughly east to west are both Nancy Brook and Nancy Pond Trail. The 4-acre Nancy Pond, situated at an elevation of 3,100 feet, is the source of Nancy Brook and is contained within the natural area.

Other obvious features of this research area include Nancy Cascades, Mount Nancy (3926'), Mount Bemis (3706'), and Duck Pond Mountain (3340'). Less obvious is a stand of old-growth red spruce (Picea rubens) and balsam fir (Abies balsamea). This area contains one of the largest tracts of virgin forest in the Northeast.

The globally rare species, mountain aven (Geum peckii), grows on the wet rocks of Nancy Cascades. The state-threatened sedge (Carex wiegandii) occurs in an acidic fen east of Nancy Pond. And the rare northern three-toed woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus) is found in old-growth stands within the natural area.

Who Is Nancy?   

Mount Nancy, Nancy Brook, Nancy Cascades, and Nancy Pond were all named for Nancy Burton, a young woman who perished in this area in 1778, while following the tracks of her fiancé who departed without a word to her but with all the funds that she had worked hard to save.

Nancy Pond Trail in October 2008 (photo by Mark Malnati) While working as a servant for Colonel Joseph Whipple in Jefferson, Nancy fell in love with a farmhand named Jim. They agreed to move to Portsmouth and get married there. Nancy, a hard-worker, had saved money during her time working at the Whipple Manor and entrusted her future husband with that money. But while she went to Lancaster to make arrangements concerning their trip, Jim left for Portsmouth, with her money, and with Colonel Whipple by his side.

It is thought that Colonel Whipple may have convinced Jim that it was more important for him to join the army rather than get married and that the money should be used to buy a uniform. When Nancy heard they had departed, she determinedly set out after them, on her own, on foot, in the winter, with deep snow cover. She did succeed in finding their still-smoldering campfire, and rekindled it in order to warm herself. Then tired, and hungry, she continued on, eventually crossing a brook that would later bear her name, and ended up soaking her dress. Here is were her frozen body was found.

It is said that upon hearing of her death, her fiancé Jim was overcome with guilt and went mad. He died in a hospital a short time later.
  Nancy Cascades in October 2008 (photo by Mark Malnati)

Mark, Diane, and Faye at Norcross Pond (photo by Mary Sheldon)

Diane and Mary on Mt. Nancy (photo by Mark Malnati)

More Mt. Nancy, Nancy Cascades, Nancy Pond, Norcross Pond Trail Reports   


Panorama from the summit of Mt. Nancy (photo by Mark Malnati)


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