Conifer at northern end of lower Greeley Pond (photo by Webmaster)

Greeley Ponds from Kancamagus Highway

Destination:  Greeley Ponds (2245')
Trail:  Greeley Ponds Trail
Region:  NH - Central East  
White Mountain National Forest, Waterville Valley
Location:  Lincoln, NH
Rating:  Easy/Moderate  
Features:  Ponds, brooks, views
Distance:  4.4 miles  
Elevation Gain:  430 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Typical: 2:25  
Outing Duration:  Actual: 3:00   Typical: 4:00  
Season:  Winter
Hike Date:  02/07/2009 (Saturday)  
Last Updated:  04/01/2009  
Weather:  25 degrees
Author:  Diane King, Webmaster
Companions:  SDHers: Diane, Sharon, Jack, Al, Reinhild, Sally, Freddy, Scott, Deb, Faye, Dennis, Brian, 2 dogs

Water at northern end of upper Greeley Pond (photo by Webmaster)


Route Summary   

Two pretty ponds ringed by mountains await you on this fairly easy hike. You get views of the ponds as well as the mountains and cliff faces towering over the water. This route starts from Kancamagus Highway and follows Greeley Ponds Trail south to the ponds. Although Greeley Ponds Trail continues all the way to Waterville Valley, this hike turns back at the second pond and retraces the same path back to Kancamagus Highway.

  • Start at the Greeley Ponds Trailhead on Kancamagus Highway.
  • Follow Greeley Ponds Trail for 1.3 miles until reaching a junction with Mount Osceola Trail.
  • Turn left to stay on Greeley Ponds Trail while Mount Osceola Trail climbs to the right.
  • If you're hiking this route in the winter, starting just beyond the junction with Mount Osceola Trail you will notice cross-country ski trails joining and leaving the hiking trail at several points. Keep in mind that the ski trails are marked by blue diamonds while the hiking trail is blazed in yellow paint; sometimes both routes share the same path for a short ways.
  • From the Mount Osceola Trail junction, continue on Greeley Ponds Trail for about 0.3 mile at which point you will be able to see the north end of upper Greeley Pond through the trees. Bear left off of the main trail to take a detour down to the shoreline.
  • Rejoin the main trail and continue for about 0.1 mile to arrive at the southern shoreline of upper Greeley Pond. From here there is a spur path that crosses the outlet brook of the pond and leads to a small beach.
  • When you're done enjoying upper Greeley Pond, continue along Greeley Ponds Trail (with your back to the pond, turn left) for another 0.5 mile to reach lower Greeley Pond. Look for outlook points at both ends of this pond. In winter, the hiking trail that skirts the right-hand side of the lower pond is pretty much abandoned in favor of simply walking across the ice.
  • Retrace your steps to return to your vehicle being sure to follow Greeley Ponds Trail in a northerly direction (with your back to the pond, turn right).

Icicle "flowers" on frozen brook (photo by Webmaster)


Place         Split
Miles
     Total
Miles
Greeley Ponds Trailhead on Kancamagus Highway (1940') 0.0 0.0
Upper Greeley Pond (2245') 1.7 1.7
Lower Greeley Pond (2180') 0.5 2.2
Upper Greeley Pond (2245') 0.5 2.7
Greeley Ponds Trailhead on Kancamagus Highway (1940') 1.7 4.4
Raccoon print on lower Greeley Pond (photo by Webmaster)


Stay overnight in a tipi
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Vertical groove on tree trunk due to lightning strike (photo by Webmaster)

Undulating portion of Greeley Ponds Trail (photo by Webmaster)
 

Trail map of hike route to Greeley Ponds (map by Webmaster)


Trail Guide   

A dozen Seacoast Dayhikers and two dogs left the crowded trailhead of Greeley Ponds for an easy snowshoe hike to upper and lower Greeley Ponds. Although there were lots of cars and people at the trailhead, once in the woods people quickly dispersed and we only ran into about a half-dozen other hiking or skiing parties while on the trail. Conditions were excellent with a well-packed trail and temps in the high twenties, low wind, and a brief appearance of the sun.

The path climbed easily through a mix of hardwoods and softwoods with several interesting boulders occasionally making a trailside appearance. There were several stream crossings, including one of the South Fork of Hancock Branch. All crossings were on bridges or small enough to simply step across. One crossing required a steep descent to the gully and then a steep climb back out after stepping over the small rivulet. Another was crossed on a narrow plank bridge and it was fun to see how people managed the "balance beam" with snowshoes on their feet. Sally crossed very gracefully as if she was a gymnast truly on a balance beam and Jack walked across with such nonchalance that it looked like he was just trotting along a normal section of trail. I snapped a picture of "Flying" Al at the tail end of the crossing. One foot hovered over the plank with the other in the airspace over the brook and only one of his trekking poles was touching the ground... and yet he didn't fall!

Mt. Kancamagus from the northern end of lower Greeley Pond (photo by Webmaster)


After 1.7 miles we reached upper Greeley Pond. At the southern end we gathered for a break while we admired the scenery. The shoreline was populated with dark green conifers and Mount Kancamagus towered over the pond.

We continued another half-mile to reach lower Greeley Pond. Here we walked across the pond, which was an absolute delight, in order to reach its southern end. The northern end was boggy with "driftwood" trees poking out of the ice; the snags were so weatherworn that they looked like driftwood to me. There were also some interestingly shaped conifers dotting the landscape.

Being out on the ice afforded us all sorts of views and angles that would be missed during the summer. Kancamagus Mountain loomed over the eastern shoreline with heavy icicles trimming its steep cliffs while East Peak of Mount Osceola, also boasting ice-covered cliffs, overtopped the pond to the west.

Wind-sculpted snow on lower Greeley Pond (photo by Webmaster)


The walk across the pond was a bit breezy. The snow atop the ice was beautifully sculpted by the wind, forming discrete patterns that reminded me of wind-blown sand. In our path, Reinhild discovered some raccoon prints. We stopped for lunch at the southern end of the pond where we found the shoreline ice there was not quite frozen. From our lunch spot we could see East Osceola with Signal Ridge as a backdrop.

We followed the same route back, except when we got to upper Greeley Pond, we decided to walk across the ice instead of on the trail. Towards the end of the hike the sun came out and the sky turned blue so we were disappointed to be back at the trailhead and finished so soon.
 
"Flying" Al crossing a plank bridge (photo by Webmaster)

Trailside boulder (photo by Webmaster)

Icicles on East Osceola ledges as seen from lower Greeley Pond (photo by Webmaster)
 

Tessa on the wind-sculpted snow (photo by Deb Hann) Reinhild on the trail (photo by Deb Hann)

 


NH - Central East

  Driving Directions   

The northern Greeley Ponds Trailhead is located on Kancamagus Highway (Rt. 112) in Lincoln, New Hampshire.

From I-93:
  • Take Exit 32 off I-93 and follow Kancamagus Highway (Rt. 112) East for 9.7 miles.
  • Turn into a small parking area on the right-hand side of the road. This turn is after Big Rock Campground (which is on the left) but before the hairpin turn at Hancock Overlook. If hiking in the winter, be careful to avoid the cross-country ski parking area for Greeley Ponds which is 0.2 mile before the hiking lot.
  • Greeley Ponds Trail leaves from the southeast corner of the parking area.

From Rt. 16:
  • From Rt. 16 in Conway, follow Kancamagus Highway (Rt. 112) West for about 26 miles.
  • Turn into a small parking area on the left-hand side of the road. This turn is after the hairpin turn at Hancock Overlook. If hiking in the winter, be careful to avoid the cross-country ski parking area for Greeley Ponds which is 0.2 mile beyond the hiking lot.
  • Greeley Ponds Trail leaves from the southeast corner of the parking area.
 

 

View of lower Greeley Pond from the northern end (photo by Webmaster) View of icy ledges on East Osceola as seen from lower Greely Pond (photo by Webmaster)

 
  Other Notes   

A parking permit is required to park at White Mountain National Forest trailheads and parking areas. You can purchase a WMNF permit from the forest service and other vendors and can also pay-by-the-day using self-service kiosks located in many parking areas.

For more information on parking passes please refer to the White Mountain National Forest website.

Rates:
  • $3 per day
  • $5 for a week-long pass
  • $20 for a year-long pass
  • $25 for two year-long passes (one household/two cars)

More Greeley Ponds Trail Reports   

  Brook (photo by Webmaster)
 

Sally, Jack, Reinhild, Scott, and Freddy in line for a steep gully crossing (photo by Webmaster) Al on the trail (photo by Webmaster)

 

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