Mt. Waternomee B18 Bomber Crash Site

Destination:  Mt. Waternomee B18 Bomber Crash Site (2535')
Trails:  Walker Brook Road, B18 Crash Trail
Region:  NH - Central West  
White Mountain National Forest, Moosilauke Region
Location:  Woodstock, NH
Rating:  Moderate  
Features:  Plane crash site, brooks, waterfall
Distance:  6.0 miles  
Elevation Gain:  1585 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Typical: 3:50  
Outing Duration:  Actual: 6:00   Typical: 5:15  
Season:  Spring
Hike Date:  06/19/2010 (Saturday)  
Last Updated:  12/24/2013  
Author:  Jim Gonia, McKenna, WA
Companion:  Jackie

At the B18 crash site (photo by Jim Gonia)
At the B18 crash site (photo by Jim Gonia)

Route Summary   

This hike starts on Walker Brook Road, and then follows the unmaintained B18 Crash Trail part way up Mount Waternomee to the place where a Douglas B18-A bomber plane crashed in 1942. Remnants of the plane as well as two plaques are located at this site.

  • Walk past the gate and continue walking along Walker Brook Road for 1.4 miles until it ends at a circular field.
  • Turn right onto a trail that should be marked with a small cairn and/or surveyor's ribbon. This turn is at about the one o'clock position when you enter the field; or northwest if you prefer to use a compass.
  • Walk for about 0.3 mile, then cross the brook (a tributary to Walker Brook) at a point where there is a metal stake with survey ribbon on the far side of the stream.
  • You are now 1.3 miles away from the wreckage site. You will first parallel the stream, and then climb some, and then the trail levels out for a bit. At the end of this level area, be on the lookout for a tall waterfall that will only be partially visible through the woods. Then climb steeply up the trail, the rest of the way to the crash site.
  • Be sure to keep walking in order to see all the plane remnants. You will first encounter the engines, then two memorial plaques mounted on boulders, and the wings will be farther up.
  • After exploring, retrace your footsteps to return to your vehicle.

Place         Split
Miles
     Total
Miles
Gate at Walker Brook Road (1210') 0.0 0.0
Jct. Walker Brook Road/B18 Crash Trail 1.4 1.4
B18 Bomber Crash Site (2795') 1.6 3.0
Jct. Walker Brook Road/B18 Crash Trail 1.6 4.6
Gate at Walker Brook Road (1210') 1.4 6.0

Plaque honoring the crew of the B18 bomber (photo by Jim Gonia)
Plaque honoring the crew of the B18 bomber (photo by Jim Gonia)

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Map of hike route to the B18 Bomber crash site on Mt. Waternomee (map by Webmaster)


Trail Guide   

First, my wife and I are in our late fifties and rarely hike. We are not in bad shape but certainly would not be confused with athletes. Our reason for this adventure differs from most. A recently deceased close friend was aboard this plane. He had recalled this event to us and we had promised to visit the site. Our intentions were to place a small plaque to honor him.

We would like to thank the creators of this site for some valuable information. The maps and directions provided by former hikers were helpful.

We started our adventure by contacting some locals in the area for some inside information. Right away, Jimmy Fadden, the owner of the local general store, mentioned "Charlie the barber" as the man to contact. Jimmy called Charlie Harrington and he was sitting in a chair next to us in five minutes. He recalled the event and provided a hand drawn map of the hike. The Fathers' Day weekend found Woodstock quite busy as bike week was in full swing.

Flag at the B18 crash site with the memorial plaque in the background
(photo by Jim Gonia)
Flag at the B18 crash site (photo by Jim Gonia)

We started at the gate at Walker Brook road at about 6:30 a.m. We had one pack with water, cell phones, a drill, a plaque, fasteners, two light rain jackets, cameras, a car GPS, and one stale sandwich. Note this did not include bug spray – an error. Another piece of poor planning was a late night at the local saloon.

Despite these few problems, the first part of the hike to the clearing went pretty quickly, mainly because of the bugs. A note here is that there are two smaller clearings earlier on the road; keep going to the end of the road. A large amount of growth in the clearing hid the cairn (pile of rocks) so we missed it but quickly picked up the trail by simply going upstream.

Remember to not cross the stream for approximately 0.3 mile. Another cairn on the opposite side of the brook indicates the place to cross. At this point things start getting steep. The grade out of the creek bed is pretty serious. A false sense of accomplishment overcame us after we reached a nearly flat segment above the creek and saw the waterfall on our right. A quick check of the map indicated we were only halfway. I was hoping at this point that the map was wrong; but it wasn't.

We struggled up with several rest stops to the crash site. As described by previous hikers, the site is large with debris spread out over a wide area. The total devastation of the plane makes the survival of five of the seven crewmen a miracle. Even more impressive are the facts concerning their rescue by local lumberjacks in the dead of winter.

We added our plaque in honor of our friend and rested before our descent. I would encourage other hikers to bring fresh surveyor's tape to mark the trail up and perhaps an American flag(s?) to this site. A somewhat weathered flag now flies there and more would be welcome. Someone had also brought flowers to the plaque honoring the crew and we thank whoever it was.

Our hike lasted six hours but we spent more time at the top than most would.

New plaque honoring Fletcher Craig (photo by Jim Gonia)
New plaque honoring Fletcher Craig (photo by Jim Gonia)
 





 


NH - Central West



  Driving Directions   

Access to the trail is in Woodstock, New Hampshire.

From I-93
  • Take exit 32 for Rt. 112 (also known as Kangcamagus Highway).
  • Go west on Rt. 112 for approximately 3 miles.
  • Turn left onto Rt. 118 South and follow it for 0.8 mile to arrive at Walker Brook Road on the right where there is a small parking area.
  • Walker Brook Road is gated about 100 feet or so from Rt. 118.
  • This hike starts on the road beyond the gate.

Other Notes   

Read about the B18 crash and rescue story.

More Mt. Waternomee B18 Bomber Crash Site Trail Reports   


Attaching the new plaque to honor Fletcher Craig (photo by Jim Gonia)
Attaching the new plaque to honor Fletcher Craig (photo by Jim Gonia)
 



 

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