Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Bagging Two New Hampshire Four-Thousand Footers in Two Days: Mt Tecumseh and Mt Osceola

My long term adventurer friend John called and asked if I wanted to hike two days in early November in the White Mountains of New Hampshire   He had picked Mt Tecumseh and Mt Osceola, both in the Waterville Valley area, and both described as moderate 4,000-foot mountain hikes.  

Two-days and Two Four-Thousand Footers
 Mt Tecumseh and Mt Osceola
Timothy, my son and fellow long-term adventurer, and his friend Rob would be joining us for the Tecumseh hike.

Day 1 - Mt Tecumseh

A Selfie at Mt Tecumseh Trailhead
Mt Tecumseh is 4,003 feet, and the shortest of the 48 New Hampshire 4,000 foot mountains.

The Mount Tecumseh trail ascends Mt Tecumseh, starting at the Waterville Valley Ski area with the trailhead at the top right edge of the parking area.  It climbs the east slope of Tecumseh.

Starting at the trailhead sign we used exposed boulders and rocks to cross a small brook and follow the south side of Tecumseh Brook for 0.3mi., then crossed the brook again to a section along a small ridge.  At 1.1 mi., the rock bound trail drops down and recrosses the brook, then climbs to intersect an old logging road.  A view sign points to the edge of the ski slope for good views of the North and Middle Tripyramid Mountains.

Continuing upward on the rocky trail, we began to get sights of snow and ice. We carried crampons/micro spikes, but we did not put them on.  Not wearing our spikes was a a bit foolish because it would have made our hike a bit more sure-footed.

Boulders, snow, and ice beginning at 1 mile
The main trail turns right and follows the rock-strewn road, angling upward along the south side of the Tecumseh Brook valley, then climbs steadily to the main ridge crest south of Tecumseh, where it turns right in a flat area.  Here at 2.2 mi. the Sosman Trail enters from the left. 

We were not sure whether to follow the Sosman Trail to the summit, or the Mount Tecumseh Trail, as both arrive at the summit.  We referenced our notes from the AMC White Mountain book, and decided on the Mt Tecumseh Trail.

At this fork we took the Mt Tecumseh Trail as it swings right, descends slightly to circle the base of the steep cone, and finally climbs steeply to reach the summit from the north at 2. 5 miles from the trailhead.

The summit offers a majestic view of 6,288 foot snow-capped Mt Washington, the only mountain covered with a snow.  We also saw neighboring Mt Osceola, which we will hike the next day,

Snow-covered Mt Washington viewed from Mt Tecumseh

The White Mountain guide says our trip should average 2 hr. 20 min.  We took 3 hr., with me continually pulling up the rear of our four pack.

Mt. Tecumseh - Sosman Trail
We decided to return to our parking area from the summit by the Sosman Trail, which connects the summit of Tecumseh with the top of the Waterville Valley ski slopes. The Sosman trail sign is clear with an arrow, and leaves the summit along the ridge to the south, then turns to the west and switches down the slope with rough snow-ice footing around the rocky nose of the ridge.  It merges to the right onto the Mt Tecumseh Trail at .2 mi., then after 120 yd., the Sosman diverges right and follows the ridge south. At .4 mi, it climbs a rocky hump with an interesting view of the Tecumseh summit cone, of which we just came.  And just beyond was another excellent view from a rustic wooden bench of snow-covered Mt Washington.  The trail runs south nearly along the ridge, bearing right at .8 mi, and emerging beneath a Waterville Valley Ski transmission towner, and the trail comes out to the top of a chairlift.  We are about 1.8 mi., from our parking area. 

The White Mountain Guide books says the Sosman Trail to the ski slopes to the parking area averages 1hr 45 min.  We took 2 hr.  Our quads down the ski slopes were unforgiving with cramps and pain.  We all agreed, next time no exit via for ski slope hike.

We found the New England Hiking site to be an excellent reference in preparing our hike.

Day 2 Mt Osceola
Mount Osceola is a 4,315-foot mountain located in Lincoln, New Hampshire within a few miles and view of Mt Tecumseh.  Mount Osceola is named after a Native American Tribe leader, Osceola.

The Osceola Trail begins at a parking area on Tripoli Rd.  Unfortunately, the only two signs we saw were the Parking area sign and the Trail head sign - both in the same area.  After the hike started, including our reaching the summit, we saw no trail signs.

The trail leaves Tripoli Rd. and climbs moderately with rocky footing.  At 1.3 mi. It begins to climb by switchbacks toward the ridge top.

At 2.1 mi, a ledge on the left was noted in our notes for a view of Sandwich Mountain, but we did not see any going up or coming back. 

At 2.3 mi. we crossed a small brook. The trail resumed in switchbacks, gains the summit ridge and turns right, and soon reaches the summit ledge at 3.2 mi, with excellent views, BUT today the summit was fogged in. 

There used to be a fire lookout tower at the summit, but was removed in the 1970s. The only remaining signs are three one-foot cement footings. The summit is a large rock slab which is perfect to grab lunch or hang out!

Summit Mt Osceola

We learned our lesson from the Mt Tecumseh hike, and we wore our spikes going down the same trail we came up.

A fogged in Osceola Summit

On our trip we met heavy fog at the summit, and missed the views of Osceola, Mount Washington, and other surrounding 4,000 plus footers.

Day 1 Mt Tecumseh
  • Elevation: 4,003 feet (1,220 meters)
  • Waterville Valley, NH (Grafton County, NH)
  • Sandwich Range of White Mountains
  • Coordinates: 43°57.99' North     71°33.40' West
  • Features: Cascades, Waterville Valley Ski Area, Limited Summit Views, Loop Hike
  • Distance of highlighted hike: 5.2 miles
  • Shortest mountain on the AMC's official 4,000 footers list.
  • The mountain is named after the Native American Tribe, Shawnee.

Day 2 – Mt Osceola
       Elevation: 4,315 feet (1,315 meters)
       Lincoln, NH (Grafton County, New Hampshire)
       Range: Sandwich Range
       Coordinates: 44°0'5.81" North     71°32'8.21" West
       Brooks, Cascades, Limited Summit View,
       The mountain is named after a Native American Tribe chief.


  1.     Osceola https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osceola
  2.       New England Hiking http://4000footers.com/tecumseh.shtml
  3.        New England Hiking http://4000footers.com/osceola.shtml
  4.        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tecumseh
  5.        OutdoorSteve.com  http://www.outdoorsteve.com
  6.        White Mountain Guide 28th Edition Compiled and edited by Gene Daniel and Steven D. Smith.  Appalachian Mountain Club Books, Boston, Massachusetts, 2007 http://outdoors.org/publications/books


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