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Little Ball - Black Snout Loop

Explore one of the least traveled sections of the Ossipee Mountains

Trail Running Moderate

9.4 km
694 m
694 m
1-2 hrs
Low Point
204 m
High Point
850 m
Little Ball - Black Snout Loop Map

On theme with the Ossipee Range, this route does not take very long to get into the "backcountry". You quickly move away from the road and the world as you head towards Black Snout - the second tallest peak in the Ossipees. The trail can be done in either direction but I preferred to ascend with views on this one. The Italian Trail is not a consistent view/ridge so keep that in mind. There are some viewpoints but it is not constant.


Start by parking in the unmarked dirt parking lot just off RT 171 right near the intersection with Sodom Rd. There is only one trail from here - start taking that through the logging area. You will quickly arrive along the river. The start of this trail is a wide, dirt logging road that eventually turns into the Mount Shaw Trail that we descend on.

The first split will be pretty evident onto the Italian Trail. While signage is lacking in this area, the trail markers should be green-red mix but this is subject to change so don't take my word for it. This trail will have some sections of steepness but it is overall pretty steady. It snakes around and arrives at Little Ball Mountain. This area has one of the best views in the Ossipees and you are not going to want to skip it. There are also a few lookouts on the way up that get progressively better. The view from Little Ball has a massive field-of-view which ranges pretty much due east all the way over to southwest. You get an amazing view of Lake Winnipesaukee as well as Dan Hole Pond (the pond down and to the left). If you are planning to do a sunrise run/hike, I highly recommend this spot.

From here, turn back around and retrace your steps a bit to where the last fork was. Continue straight at the split (instead of heading back down) which will continue to climb up to Big Ball Mountain. From here, you are on (what I consider to be) one of the most remote sections in the Ossipees. The trail could easily involve some overgrowth and bush-wacking but don't worry - you are not headed into no-mans land.

From Big Ball Mountain, you will get another nice view of the lake. You will then start descending onto the cross-ridge from Big Ball to Black Snout. Don't be fooled by the map, the cross to get to Black Snout may be longer than you are anticipating. It is not super long but the map does play tricks on you here as it seems like the ridge crossing should be one of the fastest parts.

You will know you are approaching your final climb as the incline starts to pick up a good amount. Take in the old-growth trees here as well. There is a stark contrast from the young trees you had been hiking through to now in this final climb - the trees become much larger.

The final approach to Black Snout can be a bit confusing. Watch out for other trails that go around the back of the peak as opposed to straight up like the route shows (I got a bit lost here my first time). You will pop out onto the Black Snout Trail (which most people use to approach Black Snout from the other direction). Then, you spiral up on a carriage road to the top where you will be greeted with a sign, some shade, and beautiful views of the lake again.

From here, we make our descent all the way back to the parking lot. Spiral back down the way you just came but then continue on the Black Snout Trail. If you feel like adding a bit more vertical, shooting up to Mount Shaw (the tallest peak in the range) is not too much further either. In either case, to get back to the car, you need to get onto the Mount Shaw Trail (which is what we bifurcated from in the very beginning). This trail can be hard to spot on the left of the carriage road but make sure you don't miss it as it is the last chance to get back to the parking area - or else you will be heading towards the Castle In the Clouds.

This trail starts with a pretty steep descent that some may wish not to run but it is doable for sure. As we start to join the river, the running becomes much flatter on the way out. This trail does cross/enter the river a few times so if there has been a lot of rainfall or snowmelt in the spring, this could be something you want to consider. Follow this trail all the way back to meeting the Italian Trail and then all the way out to the parking area the exact way we came in. Feel free to take a dip in the river near the car to cool off as well!



Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.


3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

between May and September

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area