Hiking is an inherently dangerous activity.
Information provided on this site may be inaccurate, may contain errors, and is not intended to be taken as advice, nor as recommendation for any particular activity.
Readers of this site assume all responsibility for any activities or consequences of any nature whatsoever relating to the use or misuse of any information included herein.

I've bushwhacked my way up Swett Mountain from the south side before, and of course have been on South Piper several times, but never hiked the Swett Mountain Trail.

Gallery / slide show

Seemed like I might as well do that today, and even though the trail is in the woods, there would be plenty of open ledge.

An important consideration on a blue-sky/puffy-cloud/still-foliage-color kind of a day like this!

I hiked South Piper just a few weeks back with TigerGrrl and NinaK, and after some thought decided to take the same route.

Out-and-back via Whiteface Mountain Trail -> Piper-Whiteface Link -> Vista Trail -> Swett Mountain Trail

I was very late getting started - almost noon at the trailhead. I chatted a bit with a couple who had just completed a walk on the Valley View Trail. (shudder).  I did that on a relatively dry and warm day and it was still slippery. They conceded the mossy ledges were a bit on the slippery side following the recent rain. But they seemed pretty pleased with the accomplishment. As they should - Valley View is IMHO the most difficult trail in the Belknaps. 

Anyway, having assured each other on such a fine day in the woods

that we are all wicked smaht for choosing to live in NH Wink, we went our separate ways.

I particularly like this route because it starts off gently and the gentle lasts just long enough for a good warm up, then reaches some nice clean & dry ledge. The footing is all good except for one slightly tricky part on the Swett Mountain Trail. 

Views start early -

and peek-a-boo views continue to the open ledge of South Piper.

Past South Piper, a steep descent into the woods and the views are gone with a couple of teasers on the way to Swett Mountain.

There is one short rockfall to navigate. Nothing like Valley View or the Boulder Trail on Mt Belknap, but care is required. Particularly solo. I think it took me 10 minutes to descend. Don't laugh Wink  I figure a fall here would be unpleasant and lonely at best - this is not a trail that gets a lot of passers-by. Although I thought it does seem like an occasional ursine visitor would be likely. The entire col between Swett & South Piper seemed like very good bear habitat. And the windy day made me ... not jittery, but watchful. I like to be able to hear wildlife; but with today's wind, a herd of moose could have run by and not made discernible noise.

After the steep descent thru some pleasant woods, and the rock fall, the Swett Mountain Trail is a pretty flat and pleasantly winding trail thru mostly open woods. There are a few spots that tempt you into thinking of possible outlooks, but they didnt pan out. I thought this boulder looked interesting mounted on its pedestal.

The Swett Mountain trail is in good shape, with good footing , but is lightly used and lightly blazed. I only saw one blaze on a tree, and perhaps 4 on rocks between the rock fall and the private property sign. There may have been more blazes on rocks under the leaves. Anyway, the treadway is mostly obvious, and the col is enough of a ridge that the general direction to follow is obvious too.

The only real potential for confusion is a trail junction about midway. The 'other' trail is obviously descending, and meets at a perpendicular angle, so it's pretty clear it is not the proper path to reach the Swett Mountain summit. This junction trail is NOT shown on the Roberts map. There is a trail shown in or near  this location on the Belknap Range Trail map, connecting to Durrell Mtn Rd; that's probably this trail.

The summit of Swett Mountain is pleasantly ledgy, but views are restricted to various east and west outlooks. The Mountain is low, so the eastward views are restricted by surrounding ridge. However, with the foliage, the ridges were very pretty !

Going past the summit , there are a couple green blazes heading generally southeast; these end at an outlook. I could find no trace of trail beyond it. From the summit, though, ignoring these blazes and heading south there is a faint path that takes you to some partially open ledge with a nice outlook South. Not spectacular, but worth the extra 2 or 3  hundred meters.

 Returning was straightforward, though again I took special care on the rockfall. It was only reluctantly that I left South Piper, but with the late start and early sunset these fall days, I tore myself away and made a swift descent. No headlamp descent today! 

All pages on this site are copyright 2023, Adaptive Technology LLC.   All rights reserved.

This site may not be displayed within the url of any other site, nor within any container of another site.