Ascent of Signal Mountain on 2019-08-25

Climber: Map Man

Date:Sunday, August 25, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Signal Mountain
    Location:USA-New Hampshire
    Elevation:2702 ft / 823 m

Ascent Trip Report

#100 on the NH Fire Tower list!!!! Our final tower site! We chose to finish here because it is a standing tower, and we did not want to end the quest on a proposed location. As you may have gathered from other recent trip reports, this is no longer the easy ATV trail walk it used to be. Due to the logging operations, the nice simple route has been completely wiped out. Now, I had heard this for a while, and I was prepared for that fact. What I was not prepared for was that the aerial imagery you can find on google and caltopo DOES NOT show the full extent of the logging. If you plan to climb this peak, you must realize that the logging clearcuts extend all the way to the summit ridge beyond the clearing you can see from the imagery and wrap all around the north slopes of the mountain. Hopefully, the imagery will be updated soon so that future hikers can better plan their ascent of this peak. To get to the trailhead, we drove in 5.3 miles on Millsfield Pond Road from Rt. 16. This road, unmarked like many of these logging roads, leaves Rt. 16 1/4 mile north of the Cambridge/Errol town line. It has a sign indicating that it is a private road with public use allowed. Just a few yards in, you will reach a large clearing where a couple roads diverge. Stay on the right side of this clearing to continue on the correct road. Beyond that, it is easy to stay on the main road. After the 5.3 miles, there is a major junction with a kiosk, where you will need to turn right onto Signal Mountain Road (NOT Bragg Pond Road). We drove 0.9 miles down this road and parked at the large overgrown clearing on the right that is the traditional starting point. Note that if you continue on this road, you will reach Rt. 26 in 3.0 miles. This is the best way to approach from the north. The road leaves Rt. 26 from a large clearing with parking for ATV trailers, less than 0.1 miles west of the Errol/Millsfield town line.

Now that you have all the directions you could ever need, I will describe our ascent. I don't guarantee that we found the best possible way to climb this peak. In fact, I know we didn't since there appeared to be an ATV road ascending from the northeast side of the summit that had been recently used for construction on the fire tower. If you could find where this road begins, you might discover a very easy way to reach the peak that no one else has found yet. However, we found a reasonable bushwhack route through the logged areas from where we started. We initially tried to follow the overgrown road leading from the right side of the clearing to the obvious logged opening seen in aerial imagery. This did not work out however, because walking through the wet vegetation and stepping on old, rotting logging slash was extremely difficult. We instead decided to step into the woods on the left and parallel the road from there. It was easy walking through the open forest, where there were remnants of old woods roads. We had to briefly cross open areas while we stayed in the woods. Once we reached the location that was supposed to be the top of the clearing, we realized the true extent of the logging. We had to bushwhack through the new growth for a short distance to reach the woods again. Then, it wasn't long before we hit more logged areas we had to push through. When we finally reached the summit ridge, we headed straight uphill through open woods. There were several stray pink flags, but no trace of a trail. Still, this was much easier than getting through the logging. We finally ran into the old ATV trail about 250 feet from the summit. We followed it over a bed of moss up past a utility building to the tower. We immediately noticed the recent construction on the tower. There was a large orange box at the base and there were brand new solar panels installed all over it. We also noticed that no repairs were made to the tower itself. There were still steps missing, and the wood that was in place was not in good shape. We did climb all the way up to the cab, though, where all the windows were gone and there was shattered glass on the floor. Aside from the ugly condition, we found this tower had probably the best view of any standing fire tower in NH, other than Mt. Carrigain (which no longer looks like a fire tower). The views extend all the way down to the Carter Range and Presidential Range. The entire Mahoosuc Range can be seen as well. There are excellent close up views of the Nash Stream Forest ranges, including the wind farm on Dixville Peak. You can also see a Millsfield Pond nearby. There are views of several sections of the Adroscoggin River and Rt. 16. We could even see the Rangeley High Peaks way off in Maine quite clearly. Overall, we were quite happy with our choice to finish the fire tower list. Despite the difficult navigation on the ascent, the view from this tower was totally worth it. It is one of the best views in New Hampshire, period.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:922 ft / 281 m
    Total Elevation Loss:922 ft / 281 m
    Round-Trip Distance:2.3 mi / 3.7 km
    Quality:10 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:922 ft / 281 m
    Distance:1.2 mi / 1.9 km
    Route:logging cut/bushwhack
    Start Trailhead:Signal Mountain Rd  1780 ft / 542 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:922 ft / 281 m
    Distance:1.2 mi / 1.9 km
    Route:bushwhack/logging cut
    End Trailhead:Signal Mountain Rd  1780 ft / 542 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Map Man
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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