What an exhilarating morning hike through the hills of Nolde Forest. It was a chilly, foggy 40 and we got to the Saw Mill parking area by 8:30AM. Max & I walked along Angelica Creek or the Watershed Trail up Sheerland Trail, then hop on Beech Trail down to the North Pond.
The ascent from North Pond up Beech Trail to Coffee Pot Hollow Trail is easily a mile in distance but far from easy with over a 400 vertical elevation change. I might have started the day with a ski cap and gloves but shortly into hill climb, they came off as my core heated up.
My recommendation is to take your time and enjoy this trail. It offers big trees, a variety of ferns and other low lying flora. The sun crested above the ridge and offered dramatic back-lighting photo ops. It was too dark for any macros or close-up shots, but they are definitely there for another time.
Near the top I noticed an unmarked "shortcut" trail that I presumed would lead me to the Boulevard Trail. We followed the Boulevard Trail to the Rock Outcrop, paused and then headed down the Ridge Trail. At it's lowest point, I found another unmarked "shortcut" that led down a gully to another leg of the Boulevard Trail. Perfect! My goal was to finish the outing on the Watershed Trail which runs parallel to the Blvd for this stretch and leads back to the parking lot.
I was impressed with Max lately for endurance seemed at an all time high. He showed no signs of being tired even though we just hiked over 3 miles.