Nancy Pond and Norcross Pond

Destinations:  Nancy Cascades (2750'), Nancy Pond (3100'), Norcross Pond (3120')
Trail:  Nancy Pond Trail
Region:  NH - Central East  
White Mountain National Forest, Carrigain Region
Location:  Harts Location, NH
Rating:  Moderate  
Features:  Cascades, ponds, brooks, views
Distance:  8.6 miles  
Elevation Gain:  2200 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Actual: 4:52   Typical: 5:30  
Outing Duration:  Typical: 8:00  
Season:  Summer
Hike Date:  08/24/2002 (Saturday)  
Last Updated:  10/21/2008  
Weather:  50-55 degrees, light rain off and on, humid
Author:  Webmaster

Route Summary   

This is an out-and-back hike to Nancy Cascades, Nancy Pond (4 acres), and Norcross Pond (7 acres). All three are interesting destinations and there are mountainous views from the far end of Norcross Pond. You will be following Nancy Pond Trail all the way to the outlet of Norcross Pond before turning around and retracing your steps.

  • 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.
  • 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 cliffs.
  • 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 are some ledges that make for a perfect picnic spot and offer a nice prospect of the pond in one direction and views of the Pemigewasset Wilderness Area in the opposite direction.
  • At the outlet of Norcross Pond, turn around and descend by the same route. Note that Nancy Pond Trail continues beyond this point so be sure to turn around here.

Place         Split
Parking area on Rt. 302 (940') 0.0 0.0 0:00 0:00
First Nancy Brook crossing 1.6 1.6 0:48 0:48
Foot of Nancy Cascades (2400') 0.8 2.4 0:34 1:22
Nancy Pond (3100') 1.0 3.4 0:54 2:16
Far end of Norcross Pond (3120') 0.9 4.3 0:21 2:37
Nancy Pond (3100') 0.9 5.2 0:21 2:58
Foot of Nancy Cascades (2400') 1.0 6.2 0:46 3:44
First Nancy Brook crossing 0.8 7.0 0:26 4:10
Parking area on Rt. 302 (940') 1.6 8.6 0:42 4:52



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

Trail Guide   

Nancy Pond (photo by Webmaster) Although it was a rainy day, this was a great hike to some cascades and two ponds.

Just after getting on the trail, take the right hand path (it looks like there's a path leading left also).

The path is mostly rocky and rooty. The beginning part of the trail passes near a few houses so there are some extra trails in the vicinity leading to private property. The path was marked with faded yellow blazes, starting after about a tenth of a mile.

The first 1.6 miles of the trail is mostly wide. It climbs steadily but at an easy/moderate grade. After the first Nancy Brook crossing at 1.6 miles, the trail gets more narrow and a bit steeper. I could hear the brook for much of the hike but it wasn't readily in sight.

There's a stone staircase leading up to the foot of the cascades. As I was climbing, I looked up to see the pretty cascades making a big drop. I went during dry season so the pool below was small and unremarkable. But it was still a beautiful area - shady, some big boulders, lush moss, and other plants surrounding the water's edge. There was "spider" moss with small, oval, black berries on it; and turtleheads - tall wildflowers with non-descript leaves but beautiful soft rose/white flowers similar to well, turtles popping their head out of their shells.

Snowberry (photo by Webmaster) Between here and the top of the cascades and beyond, much trail work was being done to install more stone stairs and to replace rotting logs in wet areas with stepping stones. The climb to the top of the cascades was steep but not too bad since it employed switch-backs.

While heading up the to the cascades, I turned around and was treated to pretty mountain views including the giant steps of Stairs Mountain.

Above the cascades, the walking is nearly flat. There were some muddy spots with decaying timbers. Some log bridges over streams looked ready to cave in but managed to hold me.

Plants seen along the way: big trilliums each with a single, bumpy, red fruit; many bunchberries bearing bright red berry clusters; blue bead lilies sporting glossy blue fruit; blueberries; big, pretty ferns; and snowberry which has small, delicate, tiny creeping leaves with white, egg-shaped berries - the berries were bigger than the leaves!

Norcross Pond (photo by Webmaster)

Nancy Pond is pretty with a peak rising above one side. But an easy walk beyond Nancy Pond, is Norcross Pond, and its beauty took my breath away. There are scattered boulders in the pond, and at the far end, Mount Bond and the Twin Range make a stunning backdrop. Of course it helps that the setting sun was illuminating the pond, in spite of the rain, which made it look like a magical, imaginary, location.

Following the trail that contours the shoreline, I was accompanied by some cute little sparrows, and I ended up at a ledgy area where I sat and admired the Twin Range mountains. Behind me was a little path that led to the western shore of Norcross Pond but this didn't provide as beautiful of a view as seeing it from the eastern end.

Norcross Pond (photo by Webmaster) I stopped here but Nancy Pond Trail continues to the Carrigain area. Nearby was an unmarked, well-used looking trail; it is an unofficial trail that leads to the summit of Mount Nancy.

Between Nancy and Norcross Ponds is Little Norcross Pond. It is very small with a big rock in the middle.

Overall, it was a great day and a great trail - varied and interesting. There were few people on the trail; I only saw five other parties all day.

I had to use care on the descent - the rain made the roots and rocks slick. I almost took a couple of headers into the muck. After getting past the base of the cascades, the walking was easy.


NH - Central East

  Nancy Pond (photo by Webmaster) Driving Directions   

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)
  More Nancy Cascades, Nancy Pond, Norcross Pond Trail Reports   


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