Mt. Shaw, Black Snout, and Tate Mtn. (Big Ball Mtn.)

Mountains:  Mt. Shaw (2990'), Black Snout (2803'), Tate Mtn. (Big Ball Mtn.) (2060')
Trails:  Shaw Trail, Italian Trail, Big Ball Mountain Trail, Black Snout Spur, Black Snout Trail, High Ridge Trail
Region:  NH - Central East  
Lakes Region, Castle in the Clouds
Location:  Tuftonboro, NH
Rating:  Moderate  
Features:  Summits, views, brook, cascades, loop hike
Distance:  Approximately 7.7 miles  
Elevation Gain:  2500 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Typical: 5:05  
Outing Duration:  Actual: 6:00   Typical: 7:30  
Season:  Fall
Hike Date:  10/05/2008 (Sunday)  
Weather:  Clear
Author:  Mark Longmire
Companion:  My 7-year-old daughter

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

This is a loop hike to Mount Shaw, Black Snout, and Tate Mountain (also called Big Ball Mountain) in the Ossipee Mountains. Mount Shaw is the highest point in the Lakes Region and all three of these destinations offer great views over Lake Winnipesauke and the environs.

  • Start on Shaw Trail and follow it for 0.4 mile being careful to follow the most prominent route since the paint blazes don't start until later.
  • At a fork, branch right at a green and red paint blaze which indicates the Italian Trail. The Italian Trail will be marked with red and green paint blazes throughout its length.
  • After 1.2 miles on Italian Trail, you will reach Tate Mountain (Big Ball Mountain) which consists of two ledgy knobs.
  • From Tate Mountain (Big Ball Mountain), continue along in a north/northwesterly direction to follow the blue-blazed Big Ball Mountain Trail for 1.5 miles, first downhill and then upwards to Black Snout.
  • From the Black Snout outlook, follow the Black Snout spur trail for 0.3 mile which will bring you to Black Snout Trail.
  • 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 after 0.3 mile and then turning left onto Shaw Trail while Black Snout Trail continues straight.
  • Descend on Shaw Trail, which for much of its upper route is blazed in red, for 2.5 miles until returning to Rt. 171.

Place         Split
Shaw Trailhead (680') 0.0 0.0
Jct. Shaw Trail/Italian Trail (820') 0.4 0.4
Tate Mtn. (Big Ball Mtn.) (2060') 1.2 1.6
Black Snout (2803') 1.5 3.1
Jct. Black Snout Trail/Black Snout Spur 0.3 3.4
Mt. Shaw (2990') 0.8 4.2
Jct. Shaw Trail/Black Snout Trail (2750') 1.0 5.2
Shaw Trailhead (680') 2.5 7.7


  Trail Guide   

To get to the trailhead we went north on Route 16 and took a left onto Route 171 (Old Granite Road which turns into Mountain Road after crossing route 28). We arrived at the Field Brook bridge / Shaw Trailhead around 10:30 a.m.

We started with the intention of following Shaw Trail up to the summit, but when we got to the fork between Shaw Trail, marked in red, and Italian Trail, marked in red/green, we could not make out the markings for Shaw Trail and bush whacked up the hill and continued along the Italian Trail. It turns out that the Italian Trail was spectacular! The view of Dan Hole Pond from Tate Mountain, the range behind it and the view of Lake Winnipesauke was amazing. A truly great view.

After eating lunch, we continued across Tate Mountain via Big Ball Mountain Trail, connected with Black Snout Trail and then continued up High Ridge Trail to the summit of Mount Shaw. Trimming of the vegetation on the north side of the summit provided incredible views of the mountains to the north. Visibility was great and we could clearly make out Mount Chocorua and Mount Washington, among others. Washington was covered by recent snowfall and had clouds surrounding the summit, but was nonetheless a great view. The foliage on the north side was just beginning to turn and looked great.

We followed Shaw Trail down and found that to be pretty cool. About a half dozen minor stream crossings along the way. The sound of running water was never far away. After passing a couple of confluences you end up near the pump house for a private water supply. The water supply system has a black plastic pipe that runs down along the brook. Follow it as far as you can and it will return you to the poorly marked beginning of Shaw Trail. The downward path of Shaw Trail has poor to fair red blazes that will lead you out, but the blazes that lead in to Shaw Trail seemed non-existent. If you wish to go up Shaw Trail, my advice is to follow the black plastic water pipe, until the red trail blazes are obvious.

We returned to the parking lot at 4:30 p.m. Not bad for the total round trip of approximately 7.7 miles... and that was with my 7-year-old daughter! What a trooper!

NH - Central East

  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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