On Sunday, my daughter Martha and I encountered snow and ice on the trail from Crow Clearing in Keene to Hurricane Mountain, which at 3,694 is not even a High Peak. This trail ascends the north side of the mountain, so it doesn’t get much sun. Hikers who came up the trail from Route 9N to the south told us they did not find snow until just below the summit.
At this time of year, though, it can snow at the higher elevations at any time. And the temperatures are often below freezing at night. So be prepared.
Having said that, Martha and I ascended the mountain in running shoes (we jogged part of the trail). We managed to get to the top, but I’d bring grippers next time. On the way down, we had to slide on our butts in a few places.
Incidentally, the three-mile trail from Crow Clearing would be a fun ski/snowshoe trip. The first mile to the Gulf Brook lean-to is flat. Beyond the lean-to, the trail ascends gradually for another mile or so, and the woods are fairly open if you prefer to ski off the trail. You could ski up the trail as far as you felt comfortable, then snowshoe the rest of the way. In winter, the dirt road is not plowed all the way to Crow Clearing, so you’ll have an extra mile of skiing–all told, two to three miles each way.
Directions: From NY 73 in the hamlet of Keene, drive east on Hurricane Road for 2.3 miles to O’Toole Lane. Bear left and take O’Toole for 1.2 miles to its end at Crow Clearing. In winter, most of O’Toole Lane is not plowed.