|Trail map, courtesy Loon Echo Land Trust (www.loonecholandtrust.org)|
Pleasant Mountain (link to trail map here), which is home to Shawnee Peak Ski Area on it's Northern flank, is 2,006' above sea level and is the tallest mountain in the area. Planning my trip I saw that the climbs from trailheads were about 1,600-1,800' to the summit, so I planned on doing four summits which I thought would take around 3.5-4 hours. This is similar to my typical hill repeat sessions at Mt. Wachusett, but with the lower trailhead elevations there would be almost double the elevation gain per summit climb. It turned out that there are four main trails up the mountain, one from roughly each compass point, so the logical choice would be to try to do a climb from each.
I parked on Mountain Road to head up the Ledges Trail first, which presumably gets it's name from the ledges a person encounters about 1.25 miles in, offering views to the south. The first pass I made by this area occurred while the sun was rising and I was able to get some good photos of the undercast clouds, which ended up sticking around all day. I was able to catch some interesting colors as I ran by some of the overlooks as the sun rose. I was delighted that this trail had the characteristics of a White Mountain trail with many rocky obstructions and general terrain that kept my eyes looking down to pick my lines through the dark. Reaching the summit in just under half an hour, I wandered around and took some photos of the early morning views as the sun was beginning to light up the surroundings with a purple hue.
|Sun beginning to rise above the clouds|
|Running down Southwest Ridge Trail on the rock slabs|
I reached the base of the Southwest Ridge Trail and took a breather for a minute before the climb back up to the summit. I was trying to keep my pace and effort level steady enough to have this run pass as good training as I made my way back up through the rocky slabs and grassy sections.
|Base signage at the Southwest Ridge Trailhead|
|Coming back up the Southwest Ridge Trail|
|Nice sunlight through a grassy section of the Southwest Ridge Trail|
|Slab sections, great to run on|
|Loon Echo Trek sign|
|Looking towards the Presidential Range in New Hampshire at the summit|
|Sea of Clouds|
|Coming down the through the scrub pine ridge|
|The "Needles Eye", a small river canyon with approximately 60 foot high walls|
|One of the runnable sections of the Bald Peak Trail|
|GPS track image|
|Elevation profile, there were some sections of 45% grade on Bald Peak Trail. Note the super slow pace on the last climb in that section.|