Mt. Shaw, Black Snout, and Tate Mtn. (Big Ball Mtn.)

Mountains:  Mt. Shaw (2990'), Black Snout (2803'), Tate Mtn. (Big Ball Mtn.) (2060')
Trails:  Shaw Trail, Italian Trail, Big Ball Mountain Trail, Black Snout Spur, Black Snout Trail, High Ridge Trail
Region:  NH - Central East  
Lakes Region, Castle in the Clouds
Location:  Tuftonboro, NH
Rating:  Moderate  
Features:  Summits, views, brook, cascades, loop hike
Distance:  Approximately 7.7 miles  
Elevation Gain:  2500 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Typical: 5:05  
Outing Duration:  Typical: 7:30  
Season:  Summer
Hike Date:  07/12/2008 (Saturday)  
Last Updated:  10/08/2008  
Author:  Sue Murphy
Companion:  Fourteen SDHers

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

This is a loop hike to Mount Shaw, Black Snout, and Tate Mountain (also called Big Ball Mountain) in the Ossipee Mountains. Mount Shaw is the highest point in the Lakes Region and all three of these destinations offer great views over Lake Winnipesauke and the environs.

  • Start on Shaw Trail and follow it for 0.4 mile being careful to follow the most prominent route since the paint blazes don't start until later.
  • At a fork, branch right at a green and red paint blaze which indicates the Italian Trail. The Italian Trail will be marked with red and green paint blazes throughout its length.
  • After 1.2 miles on Italian Trail, you will reach Tate Mountain (Big Ball Mountain) which consists of two ledgy knobs.
  • From Tate Mountain (Big Ball Mountain), continue along in a north/northwesterly direction to follow the blue-blazed Big Ball Mountain Trail for 1.5 miles, first downhill and then upwards to Black Snout.
  • From the Black Snout outlook, follow the Black Snout spur trail for 0.3 mile which will bring you to Black Snout Trail.
  • 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 after 0.3 mile and then turning left onto Shaw Trail while Black Snout Trail continues straight.
  • Descend on Shaw Trail, which for much of its upper route is blazed in red, for 2.5 miles until returning to Rt. 171.

Sal snacking on the blueberries (photo by Dennis Marchand)

Place         Split
Shaw Trailhead (680') 0.0 0.0
Jct. Shaw Trail/Italian Trail (820') 0.4 0.4
Tate Mtn. (Big Ball Mtn.) (2060') 1.2 1.6
Black Snout (2803') 1.5 3.1
Jct. Black Snout Trail/Black Snout Spur 0.3 3.4
Mt. Shaw (2990') 0.8 4.2
Jct. Shaw Trail/Black Snout Trail (2750') 1.0 5.2
Shaw Trailhead (680') 2.5 7.7

Blueberries (photo by Mark Malnati)

Wood sorrel (photo by Mark Malnati)

Mushrooms (photo by Mark Malnati) Mushroom (photo by Mark Malnati)


  Trail Guide   

SDH (photo by Mark Malnati) Fourteen Seacoast Dayhikers met at the trailhead to climb Mount Shaw via Tate Mountain (a.k.a. Big Ball Mountain) in Tuftonboro/Moultonborough. All were eager to begin hiking as Jack explained the course of the "Italian Trail" otherwise known as Tate Mountain Trail that he had explored and ascended the day before (in record time).

We started out on Shaw Trail along a fairly flat route through the woods following the good-sized Fields Brook with waterfalls and pools. There were quite a variety of mushrooms along the trail which were noticed by all!

We veered right at the red/green blaze onto the Italian Trail and continued on towards Tate Mountain and Black Snout. The trail had some steep ascents over rocks and boulders and several lovely vantage points where we stopped momentarily to grab handfuls of blueberries.

Tate Mountain had a ledgy summit where we snacked then continued on down, down, down then up again for another steep ascent to what is known as Black Snout. From there we walked on an overgrown carriage road for about a mile of switchbacks until we were on the summit of Mount Shaw with excellent views to the north and east. We lingered there a while then departed when a large group from a nearby camp arrived.

The descent was down Shaw Trail which made the hike into a nice loop. At the bottom some of us cooled our feet in the brook and Jack actually took a quick invigorating swim! The Concord and Seacoast contingencies each discussed where the ice cream stop would be and we said our goodbyes.

Kristin and Faye on the trail (photo by Dennis Marchand)

Wood lily (photo by Mark Malnati)


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   

Black Snout (photo by Mark Malnati) 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   

  Orange hawkweed (photo by Mark Malnati)


Fields Brook (photo by Mark Malnati) Fields Brook (photo by Mark Malnati)


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