Thru-Hiker's Guide to America

Cohos Trail Terrain
By E. Schlimmer

Excerpted from Thru Hiker's Guide to America by E. Schlimmer

The CT is a climber’s trail; the 160-mile trip takes you over at least twenty peaks that exceed 3,000 feet in elevation, the highest of them being Mount Eisenhower (4,780 feet), ranked the twentieth-highest peak in the Northeast. Summits higher than 3,500 feet have a boreal forest of wind-tolerant spruce, paper birch, and fir, sometimes giving way to bald summits with excellent views. When starting down from a high summit, it is easy to notice the change to hardwoods near the 2,500-foot level. This forest is composed of maple, American beech, yellow birch, and expansive stands of paper birch. When the trail descends lower into major drainages, the slopes are lined with softwoods including pine, fir, and hemlock.

The CT’s tread consists mostly of hard-packed soil, mud, more mud, and rock. Sections range from hundred-year-old established trails to nothing more than a moose path with some faded-paint blazes on the trees. Rock hopping is the approach used by many veteran New England hikers to get down the trail. Hopping from durable surface to durable surface saves you from getting stuck in the mud, and it leaves zero impact.

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