The sign on the Kiosk at the trailhead reads, "Welcome to the quieter corner of the White Mountains. The Three Ponds Trail and the surrounding area offers, beauty, challenge and varied recreational opportunities." This yellow blazed trail serves as a gateway to other trails that lead to Carr Mountain (3,440), Mt Kineo (3313), the Hubbard Brook Trail and the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. The trail is accessed from Stinson Lake Road in the town of Rumney, 6.9 miles from Rt. 25 and 1.8 miles from the Stinson Lake General Store. The trail mostly follows old logging roads and recently constructed snow mobile trails.
On a lovely, warm and sunny day my wife Nancy decided to join me and Reuben (our dog) on a short 2.3 mile hike to the Three Ponds Shelter which sits above the largest of the three ponds the trail is named for. I have hiked this trail and the other connecting trails many times in the past and have always appreciated the solitude of the experience in a "quieter corner of the White Mountains."
We decided to only hike to Middle Pond and the shelter. However, for those who would like an easy 5 mi. day hike you can take the Three Ponds Trail, returning to the parking lot via the Donkey Hill Cut-Off and Mt. Kineo Trail. This mostly level loop will take you past scenic ponds, wetlands and an impressive waterfall.
If you are interested in a longer multiday hike of 20 miles take the Three Ponds Trail to the Hubbard Brook Trail returning to the parking lot via the Mt. Kineo Trail. Primitive campsites are available along the trail.
As we began our hike up a moderate grade I was reminded that this section of the trail as well as other sections were obliterated by Hurricane Irene in 2011. The US Forest Service had done a remarkable job in reconstructing the trail. I also reflected on the fact that Forest Service does a remarkable job in trail construction and maintenance, given their limited resources. It seems that over the course of several years Congress continues to cut funding for this agency, yet they are able manage The White Mountain National Forest for a variety of interests and needs.
At .1 mi. the Mt. Kineo Trail diverges to the right and at .5 mi. the Carr Mountain Trail cuts to the left. The Carr Mountain Trail leads to a side path gaining the summit of Carr Mt. at 2.9 mi. At the summit can be found the remains of an old fire tower. Sweeping views of the Baker River Valley can also be taken in by perching oneself on several rock outcrops. This trail continues north for 3 mi., ending at the NH Fish Hatchery in Warren.
Continuing along the Three Ponds Trails we encountered 2 inactive beaver ponds, and watched a flock of birds fluttering around the dead trees in the beaver bog. The world around us was full of life, yet we stood in the stillness and solitude that the trail offered that day. The trail meanders along the right side of Sucker Brook and further along the trail crosses the brook and runs along the left side of the trail. The brook is crystal clear with many deep holes for wading or swimming, which Reuben enjoyed doing several times. I also remarked to Nancy that the gentle sound of the brook is mesmerizing as we walked along in silence. Thanks to the local and state snow mobile organizations bridges provided safe and dry crossings for all streams. After a gradual climb of about 2 miles we began our descent to the largest of the three ponds, which are a string of beautiful mountain ponds surrounded by a number of mountains and ridges. At 2.3 on the south end of Middle Pond a side trail leads up to a six person shelter. While we sat on the shore and had our snack we noticed a canoe at the far end of the pond. It was probably a couple folks staying at the shelter and brought their canoe with them. While we were resting and enjoying the view we met our first fellow hikers, a family from Norwich, Connecticut enjoying the day as we were.
After our break we headed back down the trail to the parking lot. It was a leisurely walk mostly downhill to our waiting car. As we headed back down Stinson Lake Road toward Rumney, we considered stopping for coffee at the Common Tavern, but thought better of it as we needed to get home so we could finish daily chores. This half day adventure was a welcome respite from the tasks we encounter daily. We are so fortunate to live in the mountains of the Lakes Region.
Gordon has hiked extensively in Northern New England and the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. In 2011 he completed the Appalachian Trail (2,285 miles). He has also hiked the Long Trail in Vt., The International AT in Quebec, Canada, Cohos Trail in northern N.H. and the John Muir Trail in Calif. Gordon has summited the New Hampshire Hundred Highest peaks, and the New England Hundred Highest, 98 of these in winter. He spends much of his time hiking locally and in the White Mountains with his dog Reuben and especially enjoys hiking in the Lakes Region due to the proximity to his home in New Hampton. He is also a trail maintainer for the BRATTS (Belknap Range Trail Tenders) and can be found often exploring the many hiking trails in the area.
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