The Other Doublehead Mountain | Hiking news
There is another Doublehead Mountain besides Jackson’s, and it’s Doublehead Mountain (2,120 feet) in the Squam Range above Sandwich.
This is the first summit heading west along the ridge of the Squam Range on the 11.3 mile Crawford-Ridgepole Trail, which begins on the Sandwich Notch Road.
But traditionally the way to climb it is the 1.4 mile Mount Doublehead Trail from the south. Located 1.3 miles upstream, this trail is an open ledge with one of the best views in the Lake District, including Squam Lake, Lake Winnipesaukee, and the surrounding mountains.
The trailhead is located on the Thompson East / West Dirt Road which was once the old road connecting the Farms in the Squam Range Hills to nearby towns.
This Tuesday, I went there and I climbed it. From Route 25 I took Route 109 from Moultonborough to Center Sandwich. I continued on route 113 towards Holderness and for 3.5 miles I took a right onto Thompson Road. It was in fairly good condition.
At 0.9 miles, after seeing a welcome sign for the new Doublehead Reserve, I pulled into a spacious parking lot.
A few years ago, the Squam Lakes Conservation Society purchased a 142-acre rectangular parcel that begins on Thompson Road and stretches halfway up Doublehead Mountain. Called the double-headed reserve, it has an easement to ensure it is always wild.
The old Doublehead Trail, which winds through this patch and continues beyond, has always been maintained by a different organization called the Squam Lakes Association. These two organizations work well together, as I will point out later.
From my car I took a nice dirt road and turned right at the trail sign. The trail followed some old forest paths, went through a stone wall and got steeper and steeper.
As I gained altitude, a thin layer of snow covered the ground. Oak leaves were plentiful and I was glad I brought my old microspikes for a later descent through the slippery combination of oak leaves and snow.
I enjoyed this south facing forest as the trail twists and turns. Finally, I went out to the ledge of the view. The Lake District stretched out below me. I could make out the waves treading east on Squam Lake. I saw Mount Monadnock far to the south.
I decided to continue another 10 miles to the top of the ridge and the junction with the Crawford-Ridgepole trailhead, then continued for a few hundred feet to the wooded eastern summit of Doubletop. I put on my microspikes for the descent. Later, back to the edge of the view, I had lunch and then went downstairs.
What about winter access? Thompson Road might be passable this weekend with the right vehicle, but it is not plowed in the winter.
The two cooperating agencies – the Squam Lakes Conservation Society and the Squam Lakes Association – are working to create access to the Doublehead Trail in the winter without having to walk the road.
The Squam Lakes Conservation Society recently purchased 42 acres of land that stretches from the start of the Doublehead Trail to Route 113. It is called Eastman Preserve and, in the fall of 2020, the Squam Lakes Association, after successfully asked an AmeriCorp crew, built the 1.2 mile Eastman Brook trailhead through this property to connect to the Doublehead trailhead. It would be a beautiful trail any time of the year.
This will be good for winter access by trail; however, currently the minimum parking lot on Route 113 at the Eastman Brook Trailhead is not cleared of snow. Both agencies are considering adequate parking across the street.
So for this winter walking 0.9 mile Thompson Road past the last house is the only way to get in. Or you can go there this weekend and see if it’s vehicle-friendly. If you do, don’t forget to bring microspikes. It would be worth catching that late fall view and getting some exercise.