For a not too terribly strenuous climb, this 2,214-foot mountain has a glorious open top with 360-degree views. I recommend ascending via the red trail, on the east and blazed with a red-orange color, and descending along the yellow trail on the left/west, which lets you walk into the spectacular views of this route. The connector trail between the red and the yellows trails at the bottom of the mountain takes you over a small bridge where you can check out a charming stream with small falls.
Note, when you start out at the bottom of the red trail, you’ll see a snowmobile trail heading off to the left, close to the trail sign-in box. Continue on straight here, up the wide path.
At about .35 miles from the parking lot, you’ll pass the connector trail to the yellow trail, or Starr Trail.
If you’re headed up the yellow trail, make sure you don’t miss the walking path off to the left at roughly half a mile from the connector trail. It’s marked by a cairn, but I missed it! If you miss it, you’ll end up walking along a grassy old road or snowmobile path — it’s not as nice, but it does reconnect with the hiking path.
There are spectacular views once you reach the ledges. The last 1/2 mile to the summit is also wonderful. If you do the total loop here, it’s a little under five miles.
This mountain is part of the 751-acre Mahoosuc Land Trust’s Rumford Whitecap Preserve.
There is a 4.75-mile connecting trail to Blackcap Mountain ski preserve. It’s definitely not as glorious and dramatic as the Whitecap side. If you do this starting from Whitecap, you’ll descend down Whitecap along a forested trail until you reach the bottom of the valley between Whitecap and Black Mountain. The trail crosses a grassy helicopter landing and then starts up Black Mountain, reaching an old building close to the cell tower with a bit of a view, before proceeding down the mountain mostly via a footpath.
The Black-and-White trail does not seem terribly well used, but it is well marked. *There is, however, one tricky section on a logged section of the mountain that I’ve marked with a red icon on my map. For a brief 100 feet or so, you’ll be walking along a skidder road in a logged area. Look for a cairn to your right; it is hard to see. The path opens up to a view of the Black Mountain ski lodge above a ski run, and then takes you down a ravine. You’ll eventually come out on a ski run; take a left here and shortly you’ll see a chairlift and the base area below.
If you start from the Black Mountain base lodge, you’ll want to hike up the mountain underneath the chairlift farthest to the right (if you’re looking up the mountain). Once you get to the top of the chairlift, continue left on the road behind it. Look for a sign for the Whitecap/Black Mountain trail on your right in about 100 yards.
Directions: From Route 5 (also called the Ellis River Road) turn right on Andover Road and onto the short bridge over Ellis River. After .4 miles, turn left on East Andover Road, and go another .2 miles to the parking lot on the left. The trail begins across the road.
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