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Anyone bushwhack MacNaughton this season?

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  • Anyone bushwhack MacNaughton this season?

    A friend is trying to convince me to attempt the bushwhack with her in the next week or two. From everything I'm reading it's swampy and miserable even in the driest of years, which makes me think it would be particularly bad right now. All of the trip reports on here and the high peaks forum are at least a few years old - anyone have a more recent experience?

  • #2
    I was last there 2 or 3 years ago which is not current, but the trail up from Indian Pass Brook is rather rough & eroded, and often wet; and the whole area around Scott & Wallface Ponds is notoriously swampy. There is a slight herdpath on MacNaughton now. It starts near the outlet of the pond where the official trail ends. It's hard to follow but at that point even if you lose the herdpath, if you just bushwhack up & keep southwest you'll hit the summit ridge. It goes without saying that you'll have map & compass. It's not as cut-&-dried as the "trailless" official high peaks.
    Last edited by rickhart; 08-24-2021, 07:42 PM.


    • #3
      i have only ascended macnaughton from its west last summer, and so cannot compare it to from the other directions, but i would do it that way again if i had the opportunity. everything i hear or see about from its northeast is terms like swampy and eroded and miserable. but the trail from upper works around henderson lake to preston ponds/hunter pond area and then ascent to macnaughton's summit ridge was nothing like that for me, if you enjoy solitude you will love not seeing anyone on that stretch and feeling "out there", and from past hunter pond up the brook to macnaughton was an amazing brook-whack ascent up towards the ridge, with a very tight bushwhack up towards the top (sounds like you will get this from most any direction though). From that side it was not swampy at all, and the marked trail down low not nearly eroded as most other peak trails.
      if you feel you need a herdpath for assistance, and are not extremely comfortable with bushwhacking and navigation by map and compass, i can not recommend from its west, as at the start of the brookwhack by the designated site there started a herdpath, but it seemed to quickly dissolve, and while that brook is a terrific handrail for navigation the majority of that route you will not find any signs of past human travel (although if i remember right i think i removed some marking ribbons occasionally found on tree branches along the way up the day i was there).
      Last edited by bikerhiker; 08-20-2021, 05:40 AM.


      • #4
        I've been there multiple times

        If you go from the HPIC (Loj) the trail to Wallface Ponds does get pretty swampy in two, three, or four places (the more I think on it the more wet spots I recall). With all the rain this summer it must be worse. The stretch across the old Beaver Swamp as you near the 1st Wallface Pond had a path around it; though, I have to say it's been years since I have been that way in the warm months.

        The trail from Upper Works to Indian Pass starts as an old road and can be pretty wet too. In a couple places a short and close reroute to higher ground gets you around some of the worst of it.

        I prefer to go from Upper Works via Indian Pass. Follow the drainage from Wallface Ponds that empties into Indian Pass Brook. Start the main climb after you cross (or go around) the Vly. To make the final push easier, aim for the col between MacNaughton and South MacNaughton and make your final push from South just beyond the height of land. Reason it's not so steep from there and the woods are much more open.

        Last edited by Hear the Footsteps; 08-20-2021, 09:26 AM.


        • #5
          The trail from Indian Pass to Wallface Ponds almost seems abandoned. As if hasn't had any maintenance in many years. Especially the section between Scott Pond and Wallface.
          If it has been as wet in the ADKs as it has in southern Vermont, I would imagine this trail would be an utter swampy wetland. You would need to wear muckboots to even have a prayer of keeping your feet dry.
          Once you get to Wallface Ponds it is not a lot of elevation gain to the summit of MacNaughton, and I remember the woods being better than most woods in the High Peaks region.
          Make sure you're prepared, and definitely wear tall boots, - you will get wet!
          Spencer Bigfoot


          • #6
            I've been up and/or down McN at least twice from the Preston Ponds vicinity. I leave/join the trail about a half-mile north-west of Hunter Pond, just a stone's throw NW of the drainage.
            This route entails more bushwhacking including more elevation gain/loss than from the WF Ponds side but the trailed approach is much nicer.
            I drew this map from memory some time ago (not a track-log). Other than the section labelled "thick zone" it's a great route.
            User created map: McNaughton-Preston, ID 044R, on CalTopo. Backcountry or your backyard; research, plan, share, and take maps with you on your mobile device. View real time data, choose layers that suit your needs, print maps, record tracks and more.

            I once went from the SE end of the summit ridge of McN down to the south end of the southernmost Wallface Pond. This route was hellaciously thick and slow.

            The several times I've done McN from WF ponds I found the whack to be straightforward with navigation being quite simple. It's like hitting the broad side of a barn because the summit ridge is so long. Any thick sections are easily deviated around while continuing to obey the "law of up".
            The best, the most successful adventurer, is the one having the most fun.