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Old 07-25-2017, 10:00 AM   #1
Runty
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Emmons Donaldson Seward

Looking for advice on the easiest route for the Seward range, we already have Seymour done. On paper it looks best to take the Calkins Brook trail to Donaldson, get Emmons then head over to Seward and down the Ward Brook trail and out. But I have read many reports on how bad the Ward Brook trail is, so is it better to head back up Donaldson and back down Calkins Brook? Seems like more up and down that way. Also it looks like the Calkins brook trail gets close to the Brook about half way up. Is this the last chance to get water? Thanks.
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Old 07-25-2017, 11:12 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forum.

I can't help but some of your questions are discussed in this 2012 thread.

I'm sure you'll get some advice here based on more recent conditions.
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Old 07-25-2017, 11:37 AM   #3
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Map: https://hiking.waymarkedtrails.org/#....1754!-74.2087

Clockwise loop option.
Distance: 16 miles Ascent: ~3500 feet
  1. Head east along Blueberry Trail.
  2. Ascend south via Seward Mtn Trail.
  3. Continue south along Seward Ridge Trail over Donaldson to Emmons.
  4. Backtrack over Donaldson and descend west via Calkins Brook Trail.
  5. Continue north along Calkins Brook Truck Trail to close the loop.
  6. Follow Blueberry Trail west back to the parking area.

"T" option.
Distance: 15.8 miles Ascent: ~3700 feet
  1. Head east along Blueberry Trail.
  2. Head south along Calkins Brook Truck Trail.
  3. Ascend east to Donaldson via Calkins Brook Trail.
  4. Continue south over Donaldson to Emmons.
  5. Backtrack north along Seward Ridge Trail all the way to Seward.
  6. Backtrack south to junction and descend west via Calkins Brook Trail.
  7. Turn north along Calkins Brook Truck Trail.
  8. Follow Blueberry Trail west back to the parking area.

I used BRouter to calculate distance and ascent. DISCLAIMER: The actual ascent may very well be higher than what BRouter calculated but the values are useful for comparing one route option to another.

Regarding the Seward Mountain Trail, my preference is to ascend it. The upper third is steep and heavily eroded. I've found it easier to ascend, rather descend, this section.

FWIW, I've hiked the Sewards several times and my 'Personal Best' was set doing the Loop Option (again, ascending the Seward Mtn Trail).


PS
There's also the "Out and Back" option where you ascend via Seward Mountain Trail, continue to Emmons via Seward Ridge Trail, and then backtrack the entire route to the parking area. That's 17.8 miles long and ~3700 feet ascent. Personally, I've never thought it was an attractive option (but lots of people do something very much like it when they camp at Ward Brook Lean-to).

As for water, this has been a wet summer so you're likely to find some in one of the two cols between Donaldson and Seward. In addition, there's a rocky waterfall along the trail on Seward's south side. It can be reduced to a trickle by late summer but I suspect it'll do better than that this year.
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Last edited by Trail Boss; 07-25-2017 at 12:08 PM..
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Old 07-25-2017, 01:48 PM   #4
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Wow lots of great info there, much appreciated. I was on the Blueberry trail last year and found it to be the easiest trail I have been on in the HPs so would like to use it for part of the journey. I also much prefer to ascend rather than descend steep sections, I'm pretty slow going down the steeps. Looks like either of the approaches amount to about the same thing. Nice thing about the "T" route though is we can drop some pack weight on Donaldson for the out and back to Seward. Maybe I will just let my son decide.
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Old 07-25-2017, 02:02 PM   #5
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time estimate

Took us 14 hours to do the Santanoni range and 15 to do Cliff and Redfield so Im expecting to finish the Sewards in around 14. Seem reasonable?
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Old 07-25-2017, 02:12 PM   #6
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Be advised it is a mess back there, much more so then usual. I have not been in there yet this year, but in the last few days we had two group stay with us on there way out after having done the range and they were beat. They reported mud, mud and more mud, add to that two more very rainy days yesterday and today and it will only be worse. It has been a very wet summer so far.
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Old 07-25-2017, 02:22 PM   #7
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Yes thanks, the Cliff and Redfield hike was a muddy mess as well.
I don't anticipate enjoying this one much but it has to be done! lol.
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Old 07-25-2017, 05:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Runty View Post
Took us 14 hours to do the Santanoni range and 15 to do Cliff and Redfield so Im expecting to finish the Sewards in around 14. Seem reasonable?
Sure. Based on my travels, it takes me about me about the same time to hike the Santanonis and the Sewards.
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Old 07-25-2017, 08:28 PM   #9
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I agree with the other posters- the loop option is the best overall way to do the Sewards, and it's preferable to ascend Seward first and descend via Calkins.

BTW, it doesn't make a huge difference in terms of difficulty or navigational challenge, but part of the start of the hiking trail into the Ward Brook area was somewhat recently re-routed. The hiking trail now follows the horse trail for about .1 to .2 miles further east than previously, before branching off to the north at a new junction along a new stretch of trail that shortly rejoins the old foot trail. The re-route was undertaken to avoid one of the worst of the wet spots, as I understand it.

And even though you're day hiking, it's worth mentioning that there is finally actually a designated tent site at the Blueberry Lean-to.
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Old 07-25-2017, 09:02 PM   #10
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...but part of the start of the hiking trail into the Ward Brook area was somewhat recently re-routed.
Not sure why this was done. Maybe you've heard. Is it due to the old section bordering on newly cut trees on the Ampersand side of the property line?

IMO the re-route was otherwise a waste of time. It is worse that what we had. The last time I was there, June, the re-route emptied onto the old trail exactly at a huge puddle. Totally 'a net negative' (love those words ever since Met's announcer Gary Cohen accidently grounded it in reality)

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Old 07-25-2017, 10:13 PM   #11
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@Dsettahr

You've described a reroute to the Blueberry Trail that was done last year. I recorded the new route in May 2016 and updated OpenStreetMap.
http://www.openstreetmap.org/way/372693817

The foot-trail used to run hard-right (east), and descended slightly into a very wet area, whereas the horse-trail continued straight (south) descending to an exposed culvert then ascending the opposite side to higher ground.

The reroute eliminated the hard-right, followed the horse-trail across the culvert, and along it for awhile then split off to the northeast to reconnect with the original Blueberry (Foot) Trail.

Or are you describing yet another, more recent reroute to the same section of the trail?
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Old 08-23-2017, 11:47 AM   #12
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Thanks to all for the advice. We did the hike a few weeks ago and it was indeed a bit muddy in places but over not bad considering the rain this year. We ended up taking the Calkins Brook trail up and back which I enjoyed because it was a fairly gentle approach. My favorite part of the hike were the couple of steep sections heading over to Seward from Donaldson. Took us 12 hours as we make frequent stops to enjoy the surroundings, but I was happy with that time.
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Old 09-11-2017, 09:45 AM   #13
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I took Trail Boss's Open Street Map and superimposed it with the USGS topo map, to see where the trails now are, relative to the USGS map. I would like to post it, but I cannot figure out how to do that.
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Old 09-11-2017, 09:55 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hear the Footsteps View Post
Totally 'a net negative' (love those words ever since Met's announcer Gary Cohen accidently grounded it in reality)

Don
i don't think we have crossed paths on trail yet but anyone who references the great gary cohen is ok in my book!
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