Mount Shaw and Black Snout

Mountains:  Mt. Shaw (2990'), Black Snout (2803')
Trails:  Shaw Trail, Black Snout Trail, Black Snout Spur, High Ridge Trail
Region:  NH - Central East  
Lakes Region, Castle in the Clouds
Location:  Tuftonboro, NH
Rating:  Moderate  
Features:  Summit, views, cascades, brook
Distance:  7.6 miles  
Elevation Gain:  2300 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Typical: 5:00  
Outing Duration:  Typical: 7:00  
Season:  Summer
Hike Date:  09/11/1999 (Saturday)  
Last Updated:  10/08/2008  
Weather:  Sunny, clear; humid at the start, then just warm and pleasantly cooler as we neared the top
Author:  Webmaster
Companions:  SDHers: Pam S, Cheryl M, Rachel B, Greg C, Dennis M, Tony, Sal S, Al B.

Map of hike route to Mount Shaw and Black Snout at Castle in the Clouds Estate (map by Webmaster) Route Summary   

This is an out-and-back hike to Mount Shaw and Black Snout in the Ossipee Mountains. Mount Shaw is the highest point in the Lakes Region and both of these destinations offer great views over Lake Winnipesauke and the environs.

  • Start on Shaw Trail (also known as Mount Shaw Trail) and follow it for 2.5 miles. At first there aren't any trail blazes so just follow the most prominent route until the red paint blazes begin. At the first somewhat major fork, bear left so that you are hiking roughly parallel to Fields Brook. Shortly after this, there's another fork in the road, but this is where the red paint blazes start so it's apparent that you are supposed to bear left at this fork.
  • Shaw Trail will end at a T-intersection with Black Snout Trail.
  • Turn right and follow Black Snout Trail for 0.2 mile until reaching a spur trail.
  • Turn right to follow the spur trail 0.3 mile to its end at Black Snout where there are excellent views to the south, east, and west, including Lake Winnipesauke.
  • Backtrack on the spur trail and turn right onto Black Snout Trail.
  • Follow Black Snout Trail for about 0.3 mile where it will lead straight/right into High Ridge Trail.
  • After about 0.5 mile on High Ridge Trail you will arrive at the summit of Mount Shaw which offers a panoramic view of the White Mountains to the north.
  • To return, retrace your steps on High Ridge Trail for about 0.5 mile, going straight/left onto Black Snout Trail where High Ridge Trail continues to the right.
  • Follow Black Snout Trail for about 0.5 mile, bypassing its left-hand spur at 0.3 mile and then turning left onto Shaw Trail while Black Snout Trail continues straight.
  • Descend on Shaw Trail for 2.5 miles until returning to Rt. 171.

Place         Split
Shaw Trailhead 0.0 0.0
Jct. Shaw Trail/Black Snout Trail 2.5 2.5
Jct. Black Snout Trail/Black Snout Spur 0.2 2.7
Black Snout 0.3 3.0
Jct. Black Snout Trail/Black Snout Spur 0.3 3.3
Mt. Shaw summit 0.8 4.1
Jct. Shaw Trail/Black Snout Trail 1.0 5.1
Shaw Trailhead 2.5 7.6


Woodpecker holes (photo by Webmaster)

  Trail Guide   

Cascades on Fields Brook (photo by Sal Silvestre) This was a peaceful trail with Fields Brook running along the lower section. It is mostly easy grades and wide paths with good footing. Outside of our group, there was next to nobody else on the trail.

The pleasantly babbling brook was alongside the trail for most of the first two miles and required a couple stream crossings. There were many small, pretty cascades and pools. The pools weren't really big enough for a swim, but on the way down, one looked so inviting that Dennis and I couldn't resist. So we went for a little dip and despite the fact that the pool was only about 3 feet deep, it was quite refreshing.

After leaving the brook, the trail narrows and climbs steeply for about 0.7 mile, and then it meets up with an old carriage road which is Black Snout Trail. Taking a left at this junction would eventually lead you to the actual Castle in the Clouds.

We went right, and shortly after that, followed a spur trail on the right that leads to a great outlook from Black Snout which is a knob on the southern flank of Mount Shaw. The trees are such that the best view is obtained by standing; but even sitting, the views are quite good. Pam who has done this trail in the winter, says that the views open up on the way up the trail when the leaves are off the trees. We could see Castle in the Clouds from here (the orangey-red roofs made it easy to spot). Even though it's a drive uphill to visit the castle via car; from our viewpoint, it looked like it was way down at sea level.

After eating lunch at this outlook, we continued along the trail that leads to the summit of Mount Shaw. The trail is much covered by grass and the trees alongside it form a light canopy overhead - it really gives a neat feel to the trail and took me back in time - I expected to see horse-drawn carriages coming along the trail at any time. At both the outlook and the summit, the trail went around in a circle - as if to make it easier for the carriages to turn around. Walking along the trail, glimpses of the expansive view can be caught where the growth is more sparse. The summit was much like the outlook, except even more open views - we had a great view of Ossipee Lake from here.

The peacefulness and beauty of the trail were further enhanced by the good company I was keeping. This was a special "mystery" hike. Nobody except Pam, the hike leader, knew what mountain we were climbing that day. Pam also encouraged story telling by setting up a special raffle. While we were comfortably sitting upon the outlook spot, we all had to tell a hiking-related story in order to earn a raffle ticket. After the stories were told, she drew the tickets and gave the winners their prizes.

On the trail (photo by Sal Silvestre) In addition to the material prizes, we all enjoyed the rewards of hearing others' neat hiking stories. The first tale we heard was actually a poem. We were informed at the trailhead that a story would be expected from us at the top so as Cheryl made her way up the mountain, she stopped periodically to frantically scribble down a few phrases on a piece of paper. Her well-composed poem told of her recent near-miss for completing all her New Hampshire 4000-footers. Mount Jefferson is the last on her list and she was camping out all prepared to hike it when the rain and thunderstorms set in. She has plans to attempt it again soon.

Sal told about a time that he got lost. The trail forked and he and his group decided it was best to follow the route that looked the most traveled. This lead them not back to their car; but to a llama farm. It turns out the trail they followed was well traveled by llamas - not humans. They're used both as pack animals and for their wool. A man at the farm was kind enough to give the weary, lost hikers a ride back to their car.

Rachel told about the time she hiked with a group that included Cheryl and Cheryl taunted the whole group for the entire hike saying "I have a surprise for you". The group expected the surprise at the summit but were disappointed to have to be taunted on the descent also. Their disappointment was soon replaced with joy as Cheryl unveiled the ice cream she had stashed away in a cooler in the car. Even though the ice wasn't enough to stop the ice cream from becoming a soupy consistency, it was still a delicious and welcome treat after a hard day of hiking.

Water slide on Fields Brook (photo by Webmaster) My story left New Hampshire behind and related all the wildlife I saw on my vacation to the Grand Canyon. I was lucky enough to see, but not get bitten by, a Grand Canyon Rattlesnake. It was sitting in the trail, rattling at me. I had to come frighteningly close to it, but fortunately it didn't strike me as I scooted past it. I also saw a Desert Bighorn sheep up close and personal. He was down by the Colorado River. I rounded a bend and he was right in the trail, about five feet away from me. We looked at each other; when I saw he was in no hurry to leave, I snapped a photo of him. Then he still looked at me and I was wondering if he was thinking about pushing me over the edge of the cliff that was about a foot behind me. Probably I was blocking his normal route. Anyway, he finally lost interest and ran past me, continuing along the trail. Other wildlife included the Kaibab Squirrel (which exists nowhere on this earth other than on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon), collared lizards, other lizards, horned toads, and lots of beautiful birds.

NH - Central East

  From the summit (photo by Sal Silvestre) Driving Directions   

The Shaw Trailhead is located in Tuftonboro, New Hampshire.

From Rt. 16:
  • From Rt. 16 in Ossipee, take Rt. 171 west (Old Granite Road which turns into Mountain Road after crossing route 28).
  • The trailhead is 9.7 miles west of the junction of routes 171 and 28.
  • There's a small parking area on the right (north) side of the road, just before a bridge over Fields Brook; on the other side of the bridge on the left side of the road is Sodom Road which you can use as a "you've just missed the trailhead" marker.
  • There are no trailhead signs.

From I-93:
  • Take exit 23 off of I-93 and follow Rt. 104 east for about 8 miles until it ends in Meredith.
  • Turn left onto Rt. 3 and go about 0.8 mile to a traffic light just beyond the public docks.
  • Turn right onto Rt. 25 and travel 10.1 miles passing through Moltonborough village.
  • Turn right onto Rt. 109 and go 2.2 miles.
  • Turn left onto Rt. 171 east and follow it for 3.9 miles.
  • You will pass Sodom Road on the right, immediately cross a bridge over Fields Brook, then you should immediately turn left into the small trailhead parking area.
  • There are no trailhead signs.

Other Notes   

Mount Shaw and Black Snout are part of the Castle in the Clouds Estate, although the Shaw Trail begins on private land. The main entrance to the estate, and vehicular access to the castle in season, is located 1.7 miles farther west on Rt. 171. The signed driveway is on the right.

About Castle in the Clouds Estate   

Thomas Gustave Plant, having made his fortune in the shoe manufacturing industry, accumulated land in the Ossipee Mountains and from 1913-1914 built a castle that he named "Lucknow". He lived there until his death with his wife, Olive.

The 5,420-acre property encompasses about 45 miles of wonderful hiking trails and bridle paths as well as a beautifully maintained castle with magnificent views. The estate has been owned and protected since 2002 by the Lakes Region Conservation Trust.

"Lucknow" Castle at the Castle in the Clouds Estate (photo by Mark Malnati) This landmark property is part of the Ossipee Mountain ring dike, a circular formation of volcanic origin nine miles in diameter whose impenetrable terrain has discouraged roads and settlement for hundreds of years and has preserved a true wilderness habitat for a wide range of wildlife and vegetation, including several rare and endangered species. Seven of the Ossipee Mountains' most prominent peaks are within the estate's boundaries, including two of the most popular hiking destinations in the region–Mt. Shaw, the highest at 2,975 feet, with its panoramic view of the White Mountains to the north, and Bald Knob, with its spectacular view of Lake Winnipesaukee to the southwest. The trails, many of which were originally built by Tom Plant as carriage roads, are well maintained, marked, and mapped, with options for every hiking ability.

The castle itself is open seasonally. The estate is available for weddings and other special activities. There are also events open to the general public such as a fall festival and an antique car show. Refer to the Castle in the Clouds website for specific details.

More Castle in the Clouds Estate Trail Reports   


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