View from the top of the North Tripyramid Slide

North Tripyramid (4180')
Middle Tripyramid (4140')

2003 September 20

The Tripyramid loop from Livermore road is mostly easy hiking. Mostly. This luxury is counterbalanced by two difficult slide trails. The optional North Slide borders on hazardous when dry and is wrought with hazard when wet. It was still wet from an earlier morning rain when we got there. Not good.

Starting from Livermore road, which is near the east end of Tripoli Road, Elleing, Ash, and I started along the forest thoroughfare reserved for unmotorized traffic although you could easily drive on it and not spill your coffee. It's very wide with very gentle grades and ideal footing. We stopped along the way to view the massive, out-of-place boulder that sat alone in a small stream and noticed a young pine tree on top of the boulder beginning its work at making it a collection of tiny rocks. We soon captured a view of the all-too-distant summits of North and Middle Tripyramid after having paused to inspect a misty brook. Livermore road continued along a scenic brookside ramble, passed the junction of our return trail, and switched back on itself right where we turned off on the North Slide trail over 3 miles from the trailhead.

livermore.jpg boulder misty_brook.jpg tripyramids_fr_livermore_rd.jpg

The change in landscape is abrupt. We dropped down from the road to cross a stream and immediately began a noticeably uphill and more typical meander through a narrow wooded area. The trail soon merges with a stream and we wasted no time openly reflecting upon our pleasant nature walk only minutes gone. We would later look back and laugh at this moment for more difficult passages awaited and it wasn't long before we came upon the large granite slabs of the north slide still wet and as slippery as a skating rink.


We struggled up the slabs ever wary of the grave consequences of a misplaced step. Eventually, we reached a point of substantial concern. Maybe we missed an easier ascent or a trail marker because this section was unmarked and uncommonly extreme. Footing and hand holds were practically non-existant. We looked back and concluded that a fall would be catastrophic. There would be no chance of simply dropping flat against the rocks to halt a slide down the slabs, perhaps in drier conditions, but certainly not that day. Instead, we opted to bushwhack a short section and avoid the possibility of a fall.


Our bushwhack provided safety but it was tough going. Interestingly, when we emerged from the thick brush on the north side of the trail onto what looked like a more reasonable section of the slide, we immediately saw a trail marker. This made us even more suspicious that we did indeed overlook the ideal approach. At least the hard part was behind us. We now proceeded more quickly and confidently.

This was when we ran into one real nasty and deceptively easy-looking section. It seemed easy enough but Elleing and Ash both slipped. Ash stopped himself quickly and I had been holding Elleing from going anywhere after witnessing Ash's unpleasant and nearly unfortunate experience. Elleing was scraped and slightly bruised and this may be where Ash injured the quadricep that caused him discomfort later. I'm sure it made the trip seem a lot longer for both of them.

Harder than it looks!

We had some level of gratification for taking the North Slide as we neared the top. The view is nice and the steep, treacherous-looking terrain adds to the effect. We ate lunch here to enjoy the best view of the hike. It's worth mentioning at this point that you could hike the Scaur Ridge trail to avoid the hard part of the slide then hike a short way down from the summit to enjoy the scenary. I suggest hiking down to the second cairn from the top of the slide. There is a boulder to the left that offers a great perch and this is where the trail really gets steep. We continued into the woods and climbed a short way to the summit.

n_slide_elleing n_slide_ash n_slide_top

After our short break discussing trail difficulty with a couple other hikers, we descended down the other side of the Tripyramid loop towards the summit of Middle Tripyramid. It was an easy section of the trail with a large number of oddly shaped trees. Although the climb from the col to the peak of Middle Tripyramid looked long and steep from the summit of North Tripyramid, we hardly noticed once we got there. The climb may have just seemed easy compared to the severe angle we had just dealt with on the North Slide. We were alone on Middle and we took a long break on a small outlook. The haze obstructed our view of Tecumseh and the Osceolas, but the rest was welcome anyway. Another outlook on the other side of the summit yields a clear view of Passaconaway and Whiteface and the ridge in between the two.

on_n_tripyramid tree on_mid_tripyramid

South Tripyramid is barely 4000 feet and only 40 feet smaller than Middle. It's not on the list because the col is less than 150' below the summit but it makes for an easy traverse. We were there in no time and starting down the south slide very soon thereafter. The South Slide is another steep trail which could go unsaid since all slides are steep. The footing is much better than the North Slide and it isn't nearly as long. The view is nice and the birch leaves have already turned yellow. We were down in a prompt fashion and marched along the flatter section of the trail for what seemed too long for the distance before arriving at the Livermore road junction.

n_tri_fr_s_tri s_slide_elleing s_slide_shawn

The easy walk out made for a pleasant ending. This was especially good since we were all fairly well beaten by the North Slide trail. Ash was dealing with a pulled muscle and Elleing was feeling some bruises. I always hurt and on this hike was dealing with some back pain that was lessened by 1400 mg of ibuprofen but still really twinging by this point. Roughly 11 miles, 3000 feet, a wet slide, an unpleasant bushwhack, and some physical pain: 8 hours and 30 minutes. Can't wait for the next one.

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