It was fall, the weather was nice, and Mohamed and I hadn't hiked together since Madison Gulf so clearly it was time for a new hike. We met up at the Smarts Brook trailhead, right on Rt 49, then took his car partway over the Sandwich Notch Road to the Algonquin trailhead. The road is rough, but quite easily managable in a regular passanger car if you go slowly. It was a nice day, shorts and t-shirts, with warm fall sunshine. After entering the Wilderness Area, we reached the first of the scrambles. Having not even looked at the trail description for this trail, they were a bit of a surprise. This was some pretty decent climbing, but I love this sort of stuff so it was a pleasant surprise for me. As a bonus, the top of the ledges give you some excellent views of Black Mountain and the surrounding terrain.
There were a few sets of ledges, some with some more serious scrambling, and then we entered an area with some scrub and open views. This is also the junction with the Black Mountain trail. After a brief consultation with the map we chose this spot to grab a bite to eat and some water. Overhead (not very far overhead) two Air National Guard A-10s flew training runs, interupting the quiet but also providing some spectacular sights. There are also some great views of the ponds off the Sandwich Notch Road that would be fun to explore someday. We also got our first good views of the Sandwich Dome summit, which seemed like a remarkablely long way off still. Oh well, back to hiking. The trail went up a bit more, then down a ways, before making the final climb to the summit.
The summit is a pretty small area, with one rock to stand on and get a nice view to the north. There's a small view south but you have to wander through some trees and stand on the edge of a rock, leaning on a tree, to get any view. The main view is nice, and the fall foliage was quite excellent. There were probably a half dozen people up there, none spending a huge amount of time up top. We finally pushed on, and decided to take a side trip to Jennings Peak. This has an excellent view from a ledge, and once again the A-10s came overhead, this time right overhead. We could hear them apply more throttle as they accelerated up and away. After a lovely stay there, we headed back down the Smarts Brook trail, which was covered in fallen leaves. Near the bottom there are these huge boulders scattered about, no idea of their origin, and we approached Smarts Brook. Finally we came out to my car on Rt 49, drove around to pick up Mohamed's car, and off the to Mad River Tavern for dinner before heading home.
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