I was invited to join a group heading to Scar Ridge, West Peak this weekend. I have been putting this peak off for a long time, everything I have heard or read about it did not sound very enjoyable. Trip reports mentioned a tough water crossing, very thick woods, making for a very difficult bush whack. My intention was always to make the approach from Loon Mountain ski slopes and follow a GPS track I found online, minimizing the time spent bushwhacking off trail. The group I went with had a different idea, making the approach from Big Rock Campground, crossing the Hancock Brook at the start of the hike and ascending to the East peak before continuing on to the West peak.
The trick here is to follow a route that will bring you out on a very narrow spine that ascends to the ridge line. We were very successful in doing so, thanks in part to using GPS with topo maps to guide us. We all met up at Lincoln Woods, and found a friendly person to drive us the 2 miles up the Kancamagus Highway to where we would start our bush-whack. We had a good mix of nice open woods, and some thick spruce. I found this hike challenging, the 2 partners I hiked with moved much faster than I, so I was exerting myself more than normal.
Once we made the ridge it was a short whack to the canister on the East summit. The tree that the canister is mounted to is on a fallen tree, we quickly signed in and started out to find the true summit canister and sign on West peak. This part was very thick and it took maybe 35 minutes to go .2 miles to find the canister there. This one we weren’t able to open, so we all took some photos and then changed layers and headed back. The descent was a bit easier as we followed our broken out tracks back the way we came. The river crossing was a bit sketchy, but the snow bridges held. Once we re-emerged on the Kancamagus Highway, we unfortunately had to walk the road back to our cars. This was most unwelcome. Overall this was a fun navigational challenge, but the thick spruce made it much harder than I would have liked, but that is par for the course when bush-whacking in the whites.
The official recognized summit per the AMC 4,000 footer committee is sometimes referred to as West-West Scar Ridge, as there are two bumps that can be called the summit.
West Scar was my 82nd peak on the New England 100 Highest List, and by far the most difficult bushwhack. A word of advice for anyone thinking of attempting this bushwhack, or any other – wear gear you don’t care for too much, it will get abused!
Crossing the river
Woods that do not suck
Patrick hikes fast
NOTE: GPS is never a substitute for a Map and Compass and common sense.
Distance: 8.26 mi
Avg Pace: 42:38 min/mi
Avg Speed: 1.4 mph
Elevation Gain: 2,488 ft