Mount Shaw and Black Snout

Mountains:  Mt. Shaw (2990'), Black Snout (2803')
Trails:  Shaw Trail, Black Snout Trail, Black Snout Spur, High Ridge Trail
Region:  NH - Central East  
Lakes Region, Castle in the Clouds
Location:  Tuftonboro, NH
Rating:  Moderate  
Features:  Summit, views, cascades, brook
Distance:  7.6 miles  
Elevation Gain:  2300 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Actual: 4:00   Typical: 5:00  
Outing Duration:  Typical: 7:00  
Season:  Fall
Hike Date:  11/07/1999 (Sunday)  
Last Updated:  10/08/2008  
Weather:  20-40 degrees, light snow most of the way, sun in and out, mix of clear and gray skies
Author:  Webmaster

Map of hike route to Mount Shaw and Black Snout at Castle in the Clouds Estate (map by Webmaster) Route Summary   

This is an out-and-back hike to Mount Shaw and Black Snout in the Ossipee Mountains. Mount Shaw is the highest point in the Lakes Region and both of these destinations offer great views over Lake Winnipesauke and the environs.

  • Start on Shaw Trail (also known as Mount Shaw Trail) and follow it for 2.5 miles. At first there aren't any trail blazes so just follow the most prominent route until the red paint blazes begin. At the first somewhat major fork, bear left so that you are hiking roughly parallel to Fields Brook. Shortly after this, there's another fork in the road, but this is where the red paint blazes start so it's apparent that you are supposed to bear left at this fork.
  • Shaw Trail will end at a T-intersection with Black Snout Trail.
  • Turn right and follow Black Snout Trail for 0.2 mile until reaching a spur trail.
  • Turn right to follow the spur trail 0.3 mile to its end at Black Snout where there are excellent views to the south, east, and west, including Lake Winnipesauke.
  • Backtrack on the spur trail and turn right onto Black Snout Trail.
  • Follow Black Snout Trail for about 0.3 mile where it will lead straight/right into High Ridge Trail.
  • After about 0.5 mile on High Ridge Trail you will arrive at the summit of Mount Shaw which offers a panoramic view of the White Mountains to the north.
  • To return, retrace your steps on High Ridge Trail for about 0.5 mile, going straight/left onto Black Snout Trail where High Ridge Trail continues to the right.
  • Follow Black Snout Trail for about 0.5 mile, bypassing its left-hand spur at 0.3 mile and then turning left onto Shaw Trail while Black Snout Trail continues straight.
  • Descend on Shaw Trail for 2.5 miles until returning to Rt. 171.

Place         Split
Shaw Trailhead 0.0 0.0 0:00 0:00
Jct. Shaw Trail/Black Snout Trail 2.5 2.5 1:31 1:31
Jct. Black Snout Trail/Black Snout Spur 0.2 2.7 0:07 1:38
Black Snout 0.3 3.0 0:06 1:44
Jct. Black Snout Trail/Black Snout Spur 0.3 3.3 0:06 1:50
Mt. Shaw summit 0.8 4.1 0:19 2:09
Jct. Shaw Trail/Black Snout Trail 1.0 5.1 0:21 2:30
Shaw Trailhead 2.5 7.6 1:30 4:00


  Trail Guide   

Once again this trail provided me with a beautiful, peaceful hike. It is mostly easy grades and wide paths with good footing. There's also some moderate sections and one steep section. There was only one other party on the trail.

I started out feeling cold so I wore a turtleneck over my long-sleeved shirt and also wore my gloves. Last time I was hiking with a group of people that were familiar with the trail but this day I was on my own to make the correct decisions on which way to go at the many trail splits.

The trail starts out as a woods road. There aren't any trail blazes at the beginning, but if you just follow the most prominent route until the red blazes kick in, you should be on track. At the first somewhat major fork, I bore left so that I was roughly running parallel to Fields Brook.

Just 0.3 mile from the trailhead, there's a neat water slide/cascade about twenty yards to the left of the trail. In between the trail and the brook at this point is a pretty hemlock grove.

Shortly after this, there's another fork in the road, but this is where the red paint blazes kick in so it's apparent that I'm supposed to bear left at this fork. A bit after this, the woods road seems to come to an end. Here the trail transforms into a small path that heads out from the end of the right-hand side of the road. During this section, black pipelines can be seen running along the trail. A little ways beyond is what I think is called a spring house - a little shed that encloses the spring?

After going by the low-to-the-ground shed, the trail is difficult to follow for a short stint. I found a faded red blaze on a fallen tree. Basically, I just kind of stayed to the immediate left of what was at this time, a dry stream bed; and Fields Brook was to my far left. The trail was harder to follow at this time of year due to the dead leaves covering the ground but I did find a trail marker on the edge of the dry stream bed.

At one point a tributary stream takes over part of the trail. It comes in from the right, runs in the trail for about 30 feet, then exits on the left and feeds into Fields Brook. Shortly after this spot, the trail reverts to an old woods road, rather than a narrow path for a while.

I kept fluctuating between being cold and hot depending on when the sun was hitting me and when the cold breezes were hitting me. I decided I was more hot than cold and took off my turtleneck and gloves. At this point I wasn't too close to Fields Brook but there was a small stream running on my right.

Aside from that short stint of hard-to-follow trail, the path is well marked. It was about 40 degrees and snow started to fall. It was falling very lightly - just flurries.

This is a great trail even when all the trees are bare because the stream is so beautiful and the woods are so peaceful. After about 1.5 miles, the trail crosses Fields Brook. This crossing was difficult when I hiked it in September but the water level must be a lot lower now because it was a piece of cake. The crossing is well-marked too so there's no question that the trail continues on the other side at this point.

Right at this crossing was a super-cold pocket of air. There is a small, neat-looking cascade here. The rock the water is flowing over is at an angle and the water kind of extends along the same plane as the rock, rather than dropping off sharply. And there's moss on the rock forming neat patterns, underneath the water where the rock appears to end and the white water begins.

Mini cascades (photo by Webmaster)

About a half-mile farther up, after a moderate ascent, and then an easy section, you re-cross Fields Brook once more (this is also an easy crossing).

While hiking up this trail, keep checking behind you for some great views of Lake Winnipesauke. These views would be completely obstructed if the trees had leaves on them. At one point, I saw ridgelines coming down on either side of me and reaching out to form an imaginary, inverted V, with the point of the V in Lake Winnipesauke. The sun was reflecting off the water and made it almost look like sky. In the foreground, the snow was falling prettily, and on the far side of the lake the Belknap Mountains rise up to complete this perfect scene. Above the mountains the sky was blue-gray with white clouds scattered about. Mountains, snow, water, sun, sky, and more mountains - what more could you ask for?

Back to the trail. A note of caution: Ignore the red blazes that are off the trail and follow the red blazes that are on the more apparent trail. There's a blow-down section and the trail has been slightly re-routed so don't let a few stray marks confuse you.

There's a steep section just before the trail joins up with Black Snout Trail. It lasts for about a quarter of a mile. The trail is rocky and footing is difficult because there's several inches of dead leaves hiding the rocks and dips. From this section, looking behind me, I could see two fairly big peaks towards the right of the lake - I believe these make up Red Hill. Another interesting thing about this section is that there's color. Little tufts of green grass, moss, lots of ferns, and a few small evergreens. And just a little bit of snow is starting to stick to the trail in a couple spots.

After an hour-and-a-half of hiking, and 2.5 miles, I reached Black Snout Trail which is an old carriage road. This is where I met the two men that went with the one other car parked at the trailhead. They were headed down and were all bundled up. They said it was a lot colder at the top and they were just starting to get warm again. It was 30 degrees at this point and still snowing lightly. I got chilled because I stopped for a moment and was more exposed to the wind. I put on a shell, gloves, earband, and hood.

I took a right onto the carriage road and after 0.2 mile, I encountered the 0.3 mile long spur path on the right that leads to the knob called Black Snout. I was pretty cold during the whole walk up there and back. I didn't stay long at the outlook. There were good views of Lake Winnipesauke and Castle in the Clouds could also be located.

After getting back onto the main carriage road I put on a neck gaitor and fleece pants which made a big difference in keeping me warm for the rest of my time on these more exposed trails. The walk along these carriage roads is so peaceful. There are evergreens and big-trunked birch trees on either side.

I reached the summit of Mount Shaw after a little more than two hours of hiking (including the detour to Black Snout). It was really snowing on the summit and was even sticking to the ground. It was 20 degrees. I hunkered down off to one side out of the stronger winds. When the snowflakes landed on my fleece pants, they did't melt right away and I could see their exquisite detail and could even count their points and make out their different designs. They ranged in sizes from teeny, teeny, tiny to small. I added a fleece layer under my shell. It was cold up there but not unbearable.

I could see Dan Hole Pond off to my right - it's partially shielded by Canaan and Sentinel Mountains. Ossipee Lake was straight ahead. There's not a totally open view directly behind me but I think I could detect Faraway Mountain and Mount Roberts. Way off in the distance, off to the right I saw what looks like beige colored cliffs - but my binoculars revealed that it's more like sand piles or dug out areas, rather than rocks.

I followed the trail back down the same way I went up (minus the detour to the knob).

NH - Central East

  Driving Directions   

The Shaw Trailhead is located in Tuftonboro, New Hampshire.

From Rt. 16:
  • From Rt. 16 in Ossipee, take Rt. 171 west (Old Granite Road which turns into Mountain Road after crossing route 28).
  • The trailhead is 9.7 miles west of the junction of routes 171 and 28.
  • There's a small parking area on the right (north) side of the road, just before a bridge over Fields Brook; on the other side of the bridge on the left side of the road is Sodom Road which you can use as a "you've just missed the trailhead" marker.
  • There are no trailhead signs.

From I-93:
  • Take exit 23 off of I-93 and follow Rt. 104 east for about 8 miles until it ends in Meredith.
  • Turn left onto Rt. 3 and go about 0.8 mile to a traffic light just beyond the public docks.
  • Turn right onto Rt. 25 and travel 10.1 miles passing through Moltonborough village.
  • Turn right onto Rt. 109 and go 2.2 miles.
  • Turn left onto Rt. 171 east and follow it for 3.9 miles.
  • You will pass Sodom Road on the right, immediately cross a bridge over Fields Brook, then you should immediately turn left into the small trailhead parking area.
  • There are no trailhead signs.

Other Notes   

Mount Shaw and Black Snout are part of the Castle in the Clouds Estate, although the Shaw Trail begins on private land. The main entrance to the estate, and vehicular access to the castle in season, is located 1.7 miles farther west on Rt. 171. The signed driveway is on the right.

About Castle in the Clouds Estate   

Thomas Gustave Plant, having made his fortune in the shoe manufacturing industry, accumulated land in the Ossipee Mountains and from 1913-1914 built a castle that he named "Lucknow". He lived there until his death with his wife, Olive.

The 5,420-acre property encompasses about 45 miles of wonderful hiking trails and bridle paths as well as a beautifully maintained castle with magnificent views. The estate has been owned and protected since 2002 by the Lakes Region Conservation Trust.

"Lucknow" Castle at the Castle in the Clouds Estate (photo by Mark Malnati) This landmark property is part of the Ossipee Mountain ring dike, a circular formation of volcanic origin nine miles in diameter whose impenetrable terrain has discouraged roads and settlement for hundreds of years and has preserved a true wilderness habitat for a wide range of wildlife and vegetation, including several rare and endangered species. Seven of the Ossipee Mountains' most prominent peaks are within the estate's boundaries, including two of the most popular hiking destinations in the region–Mt. Shaw, the highest at 2,975 feet, with its panoramic view of the White Mountains to the north, and Bald Knob, with its spectacular view of Lake Winnipesaukee to the southwest. The trails, many of which were originally built by Tom Plant as carriage roads, are well maintained, marked, and mapped, with options for every hiking ability.

The castle itself is open seasonally. The estate is available for weddings and other special activities. There are also events open to the general public such as a fall festival and an antique car show. Refer to the Castle in the Clouds website for specific details.

More Castle in the Clouds Estate Trail Reports   


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