From the plowed parking area on the side of York Pong Rd it is a quick and flat 0.2 of a mile walk to the junction of Bunnell Notch Trail. The first section of Bunnell Notch Trail is also flat and quite a different experience in the wintertime. This section of trail in the summer and fall is narrow with tall (very tall) overgrown grass on either side which limits views of the surrounding area and gives off a jungle-ish feel. With the grass now dead and flattened by snow cover the area was huge and open. The trail eventually starts to climb once it enters the woods but never gets too steep. There is one nice lookout along the way (Bunnell Rock) which looks down into Bunnell Notch and over to Terrace Mountain. At 4.4 miles stands Cabot Cabin which was once used as the fire-warden's cabin for the fire tower that once stood just below the summit of Mt. Cabot. The cabin is still maintained by the USFS and a group of local boy scouts for use by day hikers and overnight hikers. It wouldn't be on my list of destination spots in the White Mountains but it would certainly do quite well in a pinch.
I had been saving my winter ascent of Cabot for a "Cabot Day" which is mostly opposite of a Presi Day (go to this post for a description of a Presi Day). The forecast was for cloudy skies with a 30% chance of snow showers, moderate gusty winds and of course, single digit temps (the theme for this winter). We were pleasantly surprised with some partial sunshine and blue skies to start though this would change as we gained elevation. We still got some views from the outlook and the cabin though, which was more than we were expecting. Denise and I reminisced while we hiked, realizing it was on Cabot that we had met for the first time back in September while we were both working on our all season NH 48 lists. We had a good chuckle at our log book entries in the cabin log book, apparently Denise had been feeling particularly connected to nature that day. I wrote us a new entry and with a quick snack we continued on the short stretch to the summit.
It was another great day though a quick one. The trail conditions were perfect thanks to hikers wearing snowshoes the previous weekend while it was warm. The trail had frozen perfectly level with no post holes allowing us to zoom up and down the mountain in our spikes in 4.5 hours. Not too shabby for a near 10 mile hike!