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The Ossipee 10: An Introductory Guide

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The three most notable mountain ranges of the Lakes Region are the Belknap Range, the Ossipee Range, and the Squam Range. The Ossipee Mountains, when viewed from above, have an uncanny circular shape, which is due to their being a geologic phenomenon known as a "Ring Dike". Just as the Belknap Range has the Belknap 12 hiking list, comprising 12 trail-accessible peaks with good views, the Ossipee Range has the Ossipee 10, a similarly constructed list. The difference is that there is no administering authority for the Ossipees' list and thus no achievement patch or recognition. Please don't be deterred by that, however, since the Ossipee 10 is an easily achieveable accomplishment, and each destination on the list is worth visiting for its own merits. That was the purpose of the list's creation to begin with - to spread word about underappreciated places in the Ossipee Mountains. Six of the ten peaks (Shaw, Black Snout, Faraway, Roberts, Turtleback, and Bald Knob) are located within LRCT's Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area, a 5,000+ acre tract covering the southwestern Ossipees which contains an extensive trail network built from old woods roads and carriage paths which remained from the historic Ossipee Mountain Park. Most of the hiking within the conservation area feels unusual in that most of the trails, because of their history, are extremely gentle yet excessively long for walking. An excellent history of the Ossipee Mountains and the Castle in the Clouds can be found here .

The other four peaks on the list (Flagg, Big Ball, Bayle, and Sentinal) are located on private conservation land and are vastly different from the other six. They, too have an extensive trail network, but rather than the groomed old roads of the LRCT property, these trails are all unofficial paths of sometimes mysterious origin. Many of them can be much rougher and harder to follow. While all of the trails in the LRCT property are accessible from two major access points with plenty of parking available, trailheads in the other areas of the Ossipees are often unmarked and difficult to locate. This bootleg trail network was the subject of a much-publicized controversy when a huge tract of conservation land owned by Chocorua Forestlands, which purchased the land as a conservation easment with $1.4 million granted to them by the US Forest Service, was closed to the public in mid-2009 due to improper trail use. The conflict started with a nameless figure calling himself the "Trail Bandit", who was disgruntled with Chocorua Forestlands for accepting tax money and supposedly managing the property poorly. His accusations included shoddy logging practices and failure to keep the trail network maintained per their contract. To take action, "Trail Bandit" produced a map of the trail network on the Ossipees, provided to the public for free, and took it upon himself to conduct maintenance on the trails illegally. The tract had included two of the Ossipee 10 summits, and signage was posted ubiquitously against trespassing and explaining why the trails had been closed. The signs vehemently warned potential users that "any maps that do exist that invite the public onto this property are an illegal invasion of private property." Trail Bandit later confessed to performing the maintenance alone and the trails were subsequently reopened. This was a fortunate event for hikers, as these trails traversed some of the most scenic terrain in the Ossipees.

You can find all of the Ossipee 10 here on NH Family Hikes, but you will find them grouped in a neater arrangement on this page. In addition to our suggestions on how to get started with your quest, you will find three tables with varying information on each mountain. The first table lists statistics for each hike required to collect all 10 and has clickable rows to bring you to each one's separate guide. This is by no means a complete reference, but we think it's a suitable reference for beginners. Please note that you may fashion nearly unlimited different routes to each peak, but we present our one recommended route for each one.

Working on the List

Since there are only 10 peaks on the list, the Ossipee 10 is an easy objective compared to many more popular hiking lists like the 4000-footers. If you follow our recommended routes, you can complete the quest in seven separate hikes. The comparatively low elevation of the Ossipee Mountains makes them easier objectives than most high peaks of the White Mountains, but they do present a few unique challenges. As previously mentioned, the trail routes to the four peaks outside the Castle Conservation Area are semi-unofficial and may require extra attention and skill to find and follow, although we'd like to think our directions will eliminate some of the confusion. Also, the nature of the trail network of the other six peaks isolates some of them, especially Mt. Shaw and Black Snout, a greater distance than might be expected, so be prepared for long-distance walks. Some of the peaks have open ledges that may be slippery with water or ice. Some of the peaks have views of the White Mountains, while others face toward the Lakes Region, so it is useful to know what kind of view each mountain has and check the weather accordingly. Finally, if you are interested in even more of a challenge (with a patch reward!), click here to learn about the LRCT's hiker achievement patch program. To earn it, hikers must red-line (walk the entire length of) all trails within the Castle Conservation Area. You will walk much of the trail system while hiking to the Ossipee 10 peaks, but the red-lining patch a lot of extra effort and can be tedious, so it is not for everyone. You would need to purchase an official map from the LRCT to plan your routes on all of the trails. Because the challenge involves walking down trails for the sole purpose of walking down trails, we will not include all the hikes necessary to complete this list on NH Family Hikes.

Completion

Since the Ossipee 10 is an unofficial list and is not maintained by any authority, there is no recognition for those who finish the list. For this one, it's the thrill of the chase alone that is exciting!

Tables

The following table lists route statistics for each hike to one or more Ossipee peaks. Everything listed here describes the particular routes we recommend for climbing each one. Each combination of mountains or route to such can always be altered by consulting other guides. Difficulty listed here is subjective and relative to the set of all Ossipee peaks; it is not a general classification. Click on any row to view our guide for that hike.

Mountains Round-trip Distance Elevation Gain Difficulty Special/Unique Features
Shaw/Black Snout8.8 mi1870 feetHardTwo good views from grassy cariage roads.
Faraway/Roberts9.4 mi1710 feetHardMultiple viewpoints. Open ledges. High-elevation marsh.
Flagg/Sentinal6.2 mi2370 feetHardOpen ledges with different views. Pretty forest glades.
Turtleback7.2 mi1100 feetModerateVery close-up view.
Big Ball3.8 mi1480 feetEasyOpen ledges with different views.
Bayle3.0 mi1060 feetEasyBeautiful sub-alpine summit. Views in all directions. Open ledges. Huge boulders.
Bald Knob4.0 mi1190 feetEasyWide views from huge rocky ledge. Nice cascades.

This table provides an overview of the character of each hill's summit.


Mountain View Type View Rating Summit Type Summit Structures/Markings
ShawWide directional view from clearing8/10Forested and grassySign on a tree
Black SnoutStand-up directional view from clearing6/10Open and grassySign on a tree
FarawayDirectional view from clearing on trail6/10ClearedA cell tower
RobertsDirectional views from many ledges7/10ForestedA signpost
FlaggThree-directional view from ledges7/10Forested and ledgy (just below summit)No markings
TurtlebackDirectional view from ledges4/10Forested and ledgyA benchmark
Big BallTwo wide directional views from ledges7/10Forested and ledgyA cairn
BayleWalk-around view in all directions8/10Sub-alpine and ledgyNo markings
Bald KnobWide directional view from ledges6/10Forested and ledgyWooden bench and sign
SentinalStand-up directional view from ledges5/10Forested and ledgyA boulder

This table provides quantitative information about the mountains.


# Mountain Elevation Prominence* Isolation** Town
1Mt. Shaw2990'2340'14.1 miMoultonborough
2Black Snout2803'73'0.3 miTuftonboro
3Faraway Mountain2782'413'2.1 miMoultonborough
4Mt. Roberts2582'112'0.5 miMoultonborough
5Mt. Flagg2390'140'0.7 miTuftonboro
6Turtleback Mountain2203'153'0.4 miMoultonborough
7Big Ball Mountain2070'160'0.4 miTuftonboro
8Bayle Mountain1853'203'0.5 miOssipee
9Bald Knob1801'11'0.05 miMoultonborough
10Sentinal Mountain1690'140'0.3 miTuftonboro


*Prominence is a measure of how much a mountain stands out. If a mountain has a prominence of 500', that means if you are standing on the summit and you want to walk to a higher place, the very minimum vertical distance you must descend in order to climb up to another place higher than the summit is 500 feet.

**Isolation is a measure of how alone a mountain is. If a mountain has an isolation of 0.5 miles, that means the nearest place that is higher than the mountain is half a mile from the summit.

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