Mt.Nancy, and the Nancy Pond Trail

Sitting high above the rest of the Nancy Pond Range, Mt.Nancy is a popular bushwhack on the New England 100 Highest list. The peak, at 3,926 feet, is accessible from the Nancy Pond Trail at Norcross Pond. In this blog, I would like to describe the Nancy Pond Trail, and how to access the summit of Mt.Nancy.

Mt.Nancy from Norcross Pond. It may not look that steep, but it is!

The Nancy Pond Trail begins flat, and stays that way for a while. It crosses over Halfway Brook and Nancy Brook in the beginning, and follows the old fire warden road that ascended Mt.Bemis. The trail turns off of it, and we came across the ruins of what might have been a cabin, right on the trail.

A blurry image of the ruins. It was a bit dark for a clear photo.

The trail left the road, and my dad theorized that it was due to a washout, as the road kept following Nancy Brook. This rerouted section ascends and descends the steep side of the brook, but it soon lowers back down to the brook and crosses it. Ahead, my dad and I could see Nancy Cascade. The trail winded up to the lower section of the falls, which is 45 feet tall. The upper section can also be seen, and it's around 80 feet tall.

The lower portion of the cascade.
The upper portion of the cascade.

From here, the trail begins a steeper ascent up to the plateau area. This plateau area is quite scenic, as many narrow brooks flow quietly as they zigzag through the forest. We thought for certain we would see a moose, but we didn't. As a warning, a few of the larger bog bridges are broken. We soon came to Nancy Pond.

Mist rising from Nancy Pond.

This area is very scenic and tranquil. We only saw two other people on our entire trip up there. Sure it was a bit cloudy, but that didn't take away from it. We passed some makeshift tent sites on Nancy Pond. The trail soon came across the larger Norcross Pond, where we saw Mt.Anderson rising above us.

An ominous photo of Norcross Pond. Mt.Anderson can be seen on a clear day to the left.

To find the herd path that ascends Mt.Nancy, follow these instructions: The Nancy Pond Trail crosses Norcross Brook, but right before the crossing, there are a few tent sites. When the trail first comes to this area, a wide flat path leads to the right (northeast) to a clearing with two herd paths. The one on the right leads to a campsite with a large fireplace, and the other path is the trail. From here, the herd path ascends very steeply up the side of the peak, and I would not recommend doing it on a wet day like we did. The trail flattens out on the summit and we came across the viewpoint and sign.

The summit sign.
This was our view when we first arrived.

The view was cloudy in the beginning, but we soon were able to see Mt.Bemis and a bit of the Twin Range. On a clear day, you can see Mt.Washington and the Mt.Crawford area. This is a very impressive viewpoint, and I'm surprised an official trail doesn't exist.

Mt.Bemis from Mt.Nancy.

The descent was especially slippery, as many branches were hiding the slick roots and rocks on the trail. Once we got back to the trail, we visited the Norcross Brook ledges, which offer a grand view into the Pemigewasset Wilderness and the Bonds. We could also see Mt.Nancy and Mt.Anderson above the pond.

The cloud-capped Bonds from the Norcross Brook ledges.

There are many things in the area that share the name of "Nancy" and there is actually a story behind it. Nancy Barton was one of Colonel Joseph Whipple's many servants on his large estate in Jefferson. Nancy happened to fall in love with Jim Swindell, another servant on the estate. When Colonel Whipple found out about the love, he had Jim transferred to Portsmouth. Nancy found out, and pursued his transport carriage. So in December, 1778, Nancy ran all the way out to Nancy Brook  and froze to death, crying. It is said you can still hear her cries in the brook.

One of many tributarys to Nancy Brook.
The falls and ledges of Norcross Brook.
Notice how the ledges appear to drop into oblivion.
Mt.Bond obstructed by rain and clouds.
Mt.Anderson, Vose Spur, and Mt.Hancock all seen from the herd path.

If you're looking for a quiet, tranquil hike with very unique views, I would highly recommend this hike above all others. On a clear day, you can achieve some great views and visit some scenic ponds, along with the waterfall. This is one of the three New England 100 Highest I've bushwhacked so far (others being Mt.Fort and Big Jay), and there are many still to come! Also, if anyone has information on the easiest way to access Border Peak or Elephant Mountain, feel free to comment below.


  1. I just hiked Elephant Friday. Although more of a bushwhack than either Nancy or Big Jay is, I found it pretty easy navigationally. Plus it's not long, only 1.45 miles from the parking area to the summit canister according to my Garmin eTrex, and it gains only about 1100'. The first .4 miles is on an overgrown logging road, about 6'-10' wide and simple to follow. At ~.4 the bushwhack starts on the left. There is a small cairn and it's a clear path into the woods, the first I noticed. The start of the bushwhack is an obvious path, that goes on for quite awhile, I'd say 1/4 mile or so. When I was there Friday someone had marked a path with orange ribbons. Not cool, but if it's there on a bushwhack and it seems to match up to the intel I have, I'll follow them. The ribbons go all the way up to 1.1 miles, and the next ribbon was always visible except around .7-.8 where you go across a marshy area. I followed the ribbons which went to the col between NE Elephant and SW Elephant, with of course SW as the target for the day since that's what is currently considered the higher point. At 1.1 miles you reach a huge blowdown area at the col that has a lot more marshy ground. Left turn out of the woods, cross the blowdown, I picked up more orange ribbons marking the herd path to the summit. 58 minutes up with only a few moments of confusion at the blowdown area. Very straightforward.

    Coming down I got a little twisted around. Missed the orange ribbons at the end of the blowdown area leading into the woods. Also, had trouble in the marshy area picking up the orange ribbons at the south end. Turns out I was about 200' west of the line I went up on through the marshy area. Through the marsh and just south of that, there were more spruce to deal with, so a lot easier for me on the way up compared to the way down. Eventually found the ribbons again and the last .3 of the bushwhack back to the logging road was easy. 55 minutes down, 1:54 total but I blew easily 8-10 minutes on the way down due to missing my line from the way up twice.

    All the intel I had from other's trip reports 2011-2014 as well as maps and GPX tracks they included show a much more direct route to the summit, especially above the marsh, than the orange ribbons show. They all show a path that stays well west of the col. The route I did, I'd characterize as moderately easy - Not as easy as Nancy or Jay, a lot easier than Vose Spur and Scar Ride, similar to Mendon.

    1. Thank you for the information! It sure will come in handy when we attempt it.