Peak Above the Nubble (November 3, 2019) - 5 hours

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The herd path appears to the right, marked by a small cairn.  Dense young forest and into the older, more open forest.

The Peak Above the Nubble (PATN, 3,813 feet) is a shoulder of North Twin Mountain with enough of a col to be on the list of the New England 100. It is officially trail-less but the herd path is so good that calling it a bushwhack is somewhat of an exaggeration. There are just a few spots where the route is not clear so we carried some flagging tape that we removed on the way down. The hike starts from Haystack Road (the dirt road leading from Route 3 to the Twin Mountain trailhead), at a blocked-off forest road 1.7 miles from Route 3 and marked by three large boulders. A few minutes up that forest road there is a bare hill on the left (old quarry?) and you bear right. A few more minutes on the road and the herd path appears to the right, marked by a small cairn (left). The path goes up through a dense, rapidly growing young forest - older PATN reports describe clearings along that route but the forest has completely taken over. Sometimes the path merges with a stream. Eventually it gets out of that dense young forest and into the older, more open forest (right, looking back).

The Sugarloaves and the Presidentials.  Twin Brook Valley to Mt. Hale.

From then on the climb proceeds at easy grades through an open forest and a well-defined trail. At 3,100 feet there is a fork where the trail continues to the right, but going straight takes you to a great viewpoint south toward the Sugarloaves and the Presidentials (left) and east across Twin Brook Valley to Mt. Hale (right).

The Nubble.  South Twin.

Returning to the main trail we continued to climb through the open forest. There were a couple of forks but they all seemed to re-converge to the main trail. We climbed along a southeast bearing and always had trail under our feet. At 3,600 feet we got to a fork where the trail to PATN continues to the right but a short walk to the left took us to the Nubble (left). From there we could see PATN above us as well as South Twin further away with its characteristic slide (right). We noticed a trail heading straight down into the Twin Brook Valley but that would be for another day.

Mess of blowdown.  Dense spruce forest.

We went back and took the right turn, heading to the top of PATN. The trail continued to be well-defined but we had quite a mess of blowdowns (left) and sometimes had to push our way through the dense spruce forest (right). It is fair to say that without a trail this would be impassable. But it wasn't difficult. There were just a few spots where we had to flag a detour to avoid the worst blowdowns.

The top of PATN.  The top of PATN.

    And then we got to the top of PATN (left and right). There's a canister where we registered our visit, a "3,813 feet" sign, and a "The Nubble" sign (even though the Nubble is below). At that point the trail stops. There is a semblance of trail continuing toward North Twin and we ventured down it a bit but it soon vanished. Bushwhacking to North Twin would probably be quite an ordeal.

PATN summit.  South Twin scarred by slides.

    The PATN summit has no views but a short side trail to the left offers fantastic views along with a lunch rock (left). From there we had a unique view of South Twin scarred by slides (right) and the sweeping panorama encompassed Guyot, Zealand Mtn., Carrigain, Hale with the Willey Range in the background (below left), the Presidentials and the Dartmouth Range (below right).

3,100 feet outlook from the Nubble.  3,100 feet outlook from the Nubble.

After a 30-min lunch break we headed down the way we came, amid some snow flurries, and stopping again at the Nubble and at the 3,100 feet outlook. This was a MUCH easier bushwhack and the views were much more rewarding than I had envisioned. The whole thing took us five hours.

See also: 2019 Hikes