Mt. Tecumseh Loop

Mountain:  Mt. Tecumseh (4003)
Trails:  Mount Tecumseh Trail, Sosman Trail, Ski Slopes
Region:  NH - Central East  
White Mountain National Forest, Waterville Valley
Location:  Waterville Valley, NH
Rating:  Moderate/Difficult  
Features:  Summit, views, brook, 4000-footer, loop hike
Distance:  5.1 miles  
Elevation Gain:  2200 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Actual: 4:00   Typical: 3:40  
Outing Duration:  Actual: 5:00   Typical: 5:00  
Season:  Summer
Hike Date:  09/20/2009 (Sunday)  
Last Updated:  10/02/2009  
Weather:  65 degrees, sunny, clear
Author:  Karl Searl

Some views from the first viewpoint on the hike up (photo by Karl Searl)
Some views from the first viewpoint on the hike up (photo by Karl Searl)

Route Summary   

This loop hike climbs to the top of Mount Tecumseh, a 4000-footer, via Mount Tecumseh Trail. Although vistas from the summit are limited, a short detour halfway up brings you to the open slopes of Waterville Valley Ski Area from which there are views.

On the return leg of the hike, Sosman Trail brings you to the top of the ski slopes were there are also views. The final portion of the loop is completed by hiking directly down on the ski slopes.

Ascent:
  • From the Waterville Valley Ski Area parking lot, pick up Mount Tecumseh Trail, well to the right of the ski lodge, and directly off the parking lot.
  • Hike uphill for 1.2 miles to a signed junction that is about 0.1 mile above the third crossing of Tecumseh Brook.
  • Mount Tecumseh Trail goes to the right, but first bear left and walk for 30 feet to reach the edge of the ski slopes from which there are views of the Tripyramids.
  • Retrace your steps back to the junction and continue uphill on Mount Tecumseh Trail (bear left from the spur).
  • After climbing for another 1.0 mile, you will reach the lower junction with Sosman Trail on the left.
  • Keeping going straight on Mount Tecumseh, which is also Sosman Trail for this short stretch, and less than 0.1 mile later you will reach the upper junction with Sosman Trail. Going left will bring you to the summit of Mount Tecumseh via Sosman Trail in 0.2 mile; and going right would lead to the top in 0.3 mile via Mount Tecumseh Trail.
  • Bear left to take Sosman Trail, reaching the summit after 0.2 mile.

Summit cairn on the top of Mount Tecumseh (photo by Karl Searl)
Summit cairn on the top of Mount Tecumseh (photo by Karl Searl)

Descent:
  • After taking a break at the summit, retrace your steps on Sosman Trail for 0.2 mile where it meets Mount Tecumseh Trail.
  • Turn right and follow the combined Mount Tecumseh Trail / Sosman Trail for less than 0.1 mile.
  • Turn right onto Sosman Trail, leaving Mount Tecumseh Trail behind.
  • Continue on Sosman Trail, over nearly level grades, for another 0.5 mile which will bring you to a transmission tower.
  • From here, follow a grassy road, that leaves the clearing next to the tower, for 100 yards to arrive at the top of the ski slopes where there are views.
  • After enjoying the vistas, hike down the ski slopes (there is no specific trail) which will return you to the ski area parking lot after 1.8 miles.

Dry, rock-filled stream at the second crossing of Tecumseh Brook
(photo by Karl Searl)
Dry, rock-filled stream at the second crossing of Tecumseh Brook (photo by Karl Searl)

Place         Split
Miles
     Total
Miles
Mount Tecumseh Trailhead at the ski area (1840') 0.0 0.0
Viewpoint at ski slope (2600') 1.2 1.2
Lower jct. Mount Tecumseh Trail / Sosman Trail (3800') 1.0 2.2
Mt. Tecumseh summit (4003') 0.3 2.5
Lower jct. Mount Tecumseh Trail / Sosman Trail (3800') 0.3 2.8
Top of the ski slopes (3850') 0.5 3.3
Parking area at the bottom of the ski area (1840') 1.8 5.1

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Trail signs at the viewpoint junction on the hike up
(photo by Karl Searl)
Trail signs at the viewpoint junction on the hike up (photo by Karl Searl)


 










 

Trail map of hike route to Mt. Tecumseh via Mount Tecumseh Trail, Sosman Trail, and Waterville Valle Ski Area (map by Webmaster)


Trail Guide   

This is a loop hike to the summit of Mount Tecumseh – the smallest of the 4000-footers.

Since this is a long trip report, I've divided it into sections:

Ascent    |    Descent

Ascent   

We decided to climb Mount Tecumseh via Mount Tecumseh Trail starting at the Waterville Valley Ski Area. The trailhead for Mount Tecumseh Trail can be difficult to find in this parking area unless you know where to look. Since we had never been there, it took us a few loops around to find it. Once we spotted it, we parked, geared up and headed out.

Almost immediately, we crossed a small brook bed (Tecumseh Brook), which was dried-up. The trail climbed at a moderate grade alongside the dry streambed for about 0.3 mile where the trail crossed the brook again. After this crossing, the trail climbed away from the brook and went deeper into the woods. At this point, the trail was steeper at times and flattened out at times but made for pretty easy climbing.

View of the Tripyramids from the first viewpoint on the hike up (photo by Karl Searl)
View of the Tripyramids from the first viewpoint on the hike up (photo by Karl Searl)

At about 1.1 miles, the trail descended back down toward the brook again. Unlike the other two crossing points, there was a small volume of water running through the streambed here. After this third crossing, the trail then climbed up steeply through a section of trail that was flooded with tree roots, which made it easy to trip if you didn't watch your step. After a few more minutes of climbing, we came to a sign where the trail split.

The sign indicated that the Mount Tecumseh Trail ascended right, while there were viewpoints to the left. We decided to checkout the views before continuing on the trail. We walked about 30 feet out into an open ski slope area. I'm not sure if it was an old ski slope or an active one, but there were some nice rock slabs to sit on. We decided to have a rest and take in the scenery. From here, we were able to see the Tripyramids clearly to the right and what I believe was Mount Osceola to the left.

The rocky Mount Tecumseh Trail above the first viewpoint (photo by Karl Searl)
The rocky Mount Tecumseh Trail above the first viewpoint (photo by Karl Searl)

After resting a bit, we continued to follow Mount Tecumseh Trail. The terrain became noticeably different on this leg of the hike. The trail started to climb at a steady, but steep grade. The trail was so rock-covered that it was impossible to step on soil or dirt most of the way up. After following this trail for a while, it curved to the left where the rocks didn't subside at all, and the climbing become even steeper. Finally, after a bit, the trail evened out and the rocks gave up to soil. We passed through a small group of saplings and figured we were nearing the top, as we couldn't see much ground higher than where we were.

At 2.2 miles, we came to another fork where Mount Tecumseh Trail continued straight, and the Sosman Trail branched off to the left. We continued up Mount Tecumseh trail a few hundred more feet and there was another split. There was a sign indicating the direction to the summit. The confusing part was, the sign pointed down both paths. The left branch, leads to the top via Sosman Trail (which briefly ran concurrently with Mount Tecumseh Trail just before this junction) and the right goes to the top on Mount Tecumseh Trail. We chose the left path, which was narrow and climbed a bit. This path did award some good views through some thin trees, but it was really a difficult place to stop and enjoy due to the rocky, uneven terrain.

We soon came to the summit, which we had read, was very wooded and did not offer much for views. There was a ledgy section that had a big cairn built up on it. Once you are there, you are able to see some mountain ranges in the distance through the woods. We found as more people made it up the trail, the summit area became very crowded due to its small size.

View from the summit of Mount Tecumseh (photo by Karl Searl)
View from the summit of Mount Tecumseh (photo by Karl Searl)

Descent   

We headed off the summit using the same trail that we arrived from. However, on the way down, we decided to turn right onto Sosman Trail, which connects with the ski slopes. The portion of Sosman Trail south of Mount Tecumseh Trail is about 0.6 mile long, pretty level and is very easy terrain. I remember thinking that the natural scenery (trees, moss, etc.) of this trail was the best of the trip up to that point.

Sosman Trail ends abruptly at a large cell phone tower. At this point we followed a grassy road to the top of the chair lifts at the ski resort. From there, we followed the slopes down to the parking area where we had started our journey a few hours before. We thought hiking down the ski slopes would be easy compared to the trail but it was harder then we had anticipated. The slopes were slippery and were a constant steep grade, which were tough on our feet and knees. The sun was also unbearable. If we could do it again, I think we would have opted to go back down Mount Tecumseh Trail, although Sosman Trail was nice.

Mount Tecumseh was our (my wife and I) first over 4000-foot mountain that we climbed together. We knew before starting that the mountain was not known for its viewpoints or its climbing conditions, but instead for the fact that it is the smallest of the 4000-footers. Unlike every mountain I have climbed to date, I'm not sure this is a mountain that I want to make another trip too.

Junction of Mount Tecumseh Trail (left) and Sosman Trail (right)
(photo by Karl Searl)
Junction of Mount Tecumseh Trail (left) and Sosman Trail (right) (photo by Karl Searl)
 









 


NH - Central East



  Driving Directions   

The eastern Mount Tecumseh Trailhead for this hike is located at the Waterville Valley Ski Area off of Tripoli Road, in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire. There is a western trailhead for Mount Tecumseh Trail that is directly on Tripoli Road in Livermore, New Hampshire but that trailhead is not accessed for this hike.

From I-93:
  • From I-93, take exit 28 for Rt. 49. At the bottom of the exit ramp, head east on Rt. 49.
  • After about 10.4 miles, turn left onto Tripoli Road.
  • Follow Tripoli Road for about 1.2 miles, then turn left onto the Waterville Valley Ski Area access road (Fire Route 30).
  • Follow the access road for about 0.6 mile which will bring you to the parking areas and the ski lodge.
  • The Mount Tecumseh trailhead is well to the right of the ski lodge, directly off a parking area.

Winter: The portion of Tripoli Road described above is open year round.

Tree (on the left) with a big bend in its trunk (photo by Karl Searl)
Tree (on the left) with a big bend in its trunk (photo by Karl Searl)
 



 

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