We had never been to Dixville Notch, so before heading out to our hike of Table Mountain we drove through the notch. On the east side there are some pull outs that bring you on short walks to some nice waterfalls. The summer has been so dry these were barely running at a trickle. The notch was foggy and the sky was just a dull gray with no delineation of clouds to be seen. We stopped at Huntington Falls and walked well past the 10minute to Upper Falls sign. The gorge it ran through was a beauty and we could only imagine it filled with spring run-off.
We hiked high up above the falls and back down. As we started back west along Rte.26 we came to another turn out where we visited the "Baby Flume". True to its name it was similar in appearance to the famous one in Franconia Notch, but on a much lesser scale. A minutes walk from the parking/picnic area it too was running much lower than what we would have wished to encounter on a visit to waterfalls. We explored a little and discovered that the Cohos Trail also visited this spot and ran north from there to Coleman State Park where we were camped.
We soon piled into the car again and drove over the notch to the trailhead for Table Rock. The geology in Dixville Notch is very different than other places in the White Mountains and reminded me much more of Rte. 100 and Smuggler's Notch in Vermont. The make-up of the rock here is to my eye quite different than anything I have encountered in other parts of the Whites. I am not a geologist but I think it is Quartz Monzonite as compared to the Quartzite/Mica Schist make-up of the Norhtern Presidentials.
Out of the car at the trailhead I was amazed to look up and see a towering rock high above the notch reminiscent of the Devil's Tower in Wyoming you may remember from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Well, OK, maybe it's not that big or high, but certainly looks like its little brother. The trail starts going almost straight up, maybe a 75 degree angle, until you top out at the outlook on Table Rock. I knew the distance wasn't that far up as we climbed, but I guessed we had gained close to a thousand feet in elevation. Later when I checked the book it said it was 600' over .3 miles. Emma rocked it!
When we initially thought about hiking in the notch I had looked at the AMC map for the North Country. I saw that Dixville was not on the map so didn't look in the book. If I had I would have found this trail description, and several more describing trails in the notch. What it didn't say was that a five mile loop can be made in the notch that takes you to both waterfalls I described earlier and to viewpoints, including Table Rock, above the notch. When we return we will do this loop. The Cohos Trail utilizes part of the loop. As we walked out onto Table Rock we were amazed by the view down to the Balsams Grand Hotel, Lake Gloriette and the surrounding hills.
I walked out on the rock as far as I could. Partly because Emma was with me and I feared her falling off, and partly because I was trembling myself I could only go about half way out. I think if I had been alone I might have made it, but watching Emma out there made me so nervous I couldn't go further. We backed off and went to a place just below where it was much less precipitous and we had our lunch. The AMC Guide trail description reads in part: "Table Rock, which is perhaps the most spectacular viewpoint in the White Mountains, consisting of a narrow ledge rising several hundred feet over a cliff face. There may be better scenery in the Whites, but few trails reach airier spots from which to view it."
Behind and a little above us was a trail junction with a sign that said, "The Easy Way Down". We opted for that. It brought us back to the highway .6 miles west of where we had parked. We crossed the road and followed a x-country ski trail back to the Balsams property, walked the empty grounds back to the highway again where it was a short walk to the car. It was a shame to see the place empty and we thought of its hay day as we crossed the lawns. The buildings are still in good repair, though obviously need some updating to bring them up to snuff. I hope a deal is struck and they can be renovated and soon brought back to life. The way they sit empty now brought to mind another classic, The Shining!
We headed up to Colebrook to check out a roadside spot with a great waterfall, Beaver Brook Falls. Again, it was less than impressive with very little water running over it. Little did we know all this was about to change! Back at camp we did some more paddling and had supper. An hour or so after crawling into the tent for the night it began. First softly, then heavier, then hard, then it poured! It poured all night and into the morning, and every time we thought it was done it would start again. Overnight we had 2 inches of rain! Next morning when it let up we headed back to the waterfalls. How much does a couple of inches of rain change the water crossings? Well, all I can say is check out the pictures and video! The story of our most excellent stay at Coleman State Park can be found here:
Some video of Beaver Brook Falls here: