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Old 06-09-2017, 12:11 AM   #1
jlippman
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Question One-shot traverse of Macomb - South Dix - Grace?

Planning to hike part of the Dix range next weekend, and for time reasons it needs to be a day hike that isn't too long. Luckily we have two cars, so I'm thinking we'll go from Elk Lake to Macomb, South Dix, and Grace, then take the herd path down the South Fork Bouquet River to Rt 73.

I've done 33 of the 46 but haven't been up in a few years, so I'm a bit nervous to take all these herd paths. From my research the slide routes up to Grace can be a little tricky, but it seems to me that descending from Grace to 73 would be relatively idiot-proof (obviously we'll have a map and compass, possibly a GPS as well). Am I naive to think that? If so, any tips for following this route or suggestions for alternative strategies?
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Old 06-09-2017, 07:44 AM   #2
Bark Eater Too
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If it were me, I'd just loop it from Elk Lake and save time on the car shuttle. Go up the Macomb Slide and down Lillian Brook. The herd paths are well established and pretty easy to follow.
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Old 06-09-2017, 07:55 AM   #3
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That's a great hike! Your reasoning is also spot on...Parking at Elk Lake is always a concern as I'm sure you know so get there early or you'll add 2 miles of road walking...Macomb, South, East is straight forward and between South and East you'll walk past the herd trail down to the Bouquet so you can keep a look out for that herd trail...Finding that herd trail is the only slightly tricky issue but it has grown in popularity and is quite obvious nowadays. It is about 10 - 15 minutes before the summit of East Dix so you'll have gone 75% (30 - 40 minutes) of the way over from South when you see it...Great swim spots on the Bouquet if you like that kind of thing - also very buggy...
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Old 06-09-2017, 09:17 AM   #4
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@jlippman

Yes, parking at the Elk Lake trailhead can be a crap-shoot. Campers arrive Friday night and fill the lot (and then create a shanty town at Slide Brook). Day-hikers arriving Saturday morning are SOL, park at Clear Pond, and get an extra 3.6 miles (out and back) of road to cover. It's not a bad hike along the road ... but it's still a road.

Many of the trails you're thinking of stopped being "herd paths" a long time ago. They may remain unmarked (on purpose, for extra "sport") but they receive a bit of annual maintenance (by volunteer trail maintainers) and are mapped. You can download a GPX file for each trail from this map (derived from OpenStreetmap):
https://hiking.waymarkedtrails.org/#....0674!-73.7795

The unmarked trails of the Dix Range are not that difficult to follow (especially if you have a map, even easier if you have a GPS). Outside of winter, the trailway is obvious (scuffed and/or eroded by many feet) and up high it appears as a channel though the thick conifers.

I can think of two spots where it becomes less obvious:
  1. Junction of Lillian Brook Trail and Dix Range Trail. The DRT swings slightly west before starting its climb north to Hough (see map).
  2. The section near "Pough". There's an unnamed peak south of Hough whose nickname is "Pough" (huff and puff). The woods are sparser in this area and the path becomes slightly less distinct. However, you're following a ridge line so there's no question which direction you must go.

The trail running through the valley containing the North and South Fork Boquet rivers (a.k.a. "Boquet Forks Trail") can be problematic to navigate because it has several junctions leading off to ponds and other places. Some of these junctions are obvious (people have placed birch logs to mark them) whereas others are not. If you miss the first crossing of the North Fork Boquet, you end up following a path leading away from Grace (intentional double-entendre).

https://hiking.waymarkedtrails.org/#....1076!-73.7129

If there's high-water (as there may very well be right now) this crossing may be impractical ... and you have to improvise. If you suspect high-water from the start, you can begin from the north side of the river (instead of south side) following a path that is more like a real herd-path (faint and easier to lose; not shown on the map above). It eventually meets the main trail just past the crossing of the North Fork Boquet. If you're traveling in the opposite direction, this junction is very subtle and easily missed (therefore a wet crossing of the North Fork may be inevitable).
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Old 06-09-2017, 06:04 PM   #5
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Thanks for all the tips and suggestions!
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