“Take this trail up and over South Branch Mtn. and Black Cat Mtn.”
— Bryan Gagner
Lake · River/Creek · Views
Fill up with water near the end of this trail where the inlet to Upper South Branch Pond comes in. This is especially important if you're continuing on to move up and over the Traveler, as it is a dry trail.
Check in at the South Branch Pond ranger station between the parking lot and the beach before you head out. There is a cool relief map in the ranger station.
Head down to the beach and veer right where you'll see the outlet from the Lower South Branch Pond. When I was there, stepping stones were not there, so wet feet were unavoidable. I took my shoes and socks off and re-booted after the crossing.
There are bridges that span any other sizable creeks and this is typically a dry, rocky route, unless there has been recent rain. From here, the route winds through the woods for a blissful 1/4 mile and then begins a steep climb.
There are a few squirrely views of the Traveler and the ponds once you get up high on the ridge of South Branch Mtn. The nice views open up on Black Cat mountain just to the south of South Branch Mtn, about 2.5 miles into your trip. You could say that Black Cat Mountain is above treeline, but just by a hair.
The trail is a bit hard to find here as it is not very popular, but check out the views! Follow the ridge south as it gets steeper and keep an eye out to the right where the trail enters the scrappy woods again and descends steeply. You'll follow this descent as the trail winds down the south ridge.
At about 2.8 miles, the trail veers to the NE and traverses the SE face of Black Cat Mtn on its way down to the Pogy Notch Trail
and the south end of USB Pond at 4.3 miles. This is where you want to fill up your water as the rest of the trail is dry.
From there you can return the way you came, or you can connect with the Pogy Notch Trail
and the The North Traveler Trail
to create a larger loop.