With a base at Joe Dodge Lodge in the White Mountains, you’re well positioned to spend several days hiking, especially in the summer when the trails are clear all the way through to Mount Washington and other nearby presidential peaks. The other option is to head out on a multi-day backpacking trip to the high huts along the Appalachian Trail in the White Mountains. In just one day I got a taste of the Pinkham Notch area on the following three hikes.
The Tuckerman Ravine hike
I visited New Hampshire in early June so although the summit of Mt Washington was only 4.1 miles away, I was stopped at the Tuckerman Ravine Shelter because of snow. I would love to make it to the summit on foot, rather than in a car, (though that’s still a very interesting drive) but that will have to wait until 2018 when I plan to do a hut to hut hike. (See below.) Hiking the rocky Tuckerman Ravine Trail to the shelter is still a worthwhile outing. It’s a pretty trail especially when it’s dressed in spring green and the one beautiful waterfall along the route is a worthy goal in itself.
I found it interesting to see one of the shelters you’d find along the Appalachian Trail. It made me pause and really think how difficult the hike done in its entirety would be – something I’ve contemplated on many occasions.
Square Ledge Hike
The Square Ledge hike delivers a great view for a minimal amount of effort. It’s only 0.8 miles one way with just 154 feet of elevation gain. The crux of the hike is crossing the muddy logs at the start of the trail across from the Pinkham Notch Visitor Centre.
I’d call it an easy hike but others who don’t climb rocky trails might disagree. At the top there is an easy scramble to get onto a wide ledge – and it is here you get the stellar views of Mt. Washington, should it be a clear day.
It’s easy to combine this hike with the Lost Pond hike pictured below.
Lost Pond Trail
The Lost Pond Trail shares the same trailhead as the Square Ledge hike. It’s actually a short section of the Appalachian Trail that is primarily forested. All told its 1.7 miles out and back with 354 feet of elevation gain. Parts of the trail in early June were quite muddy but I’m sure come mid-summer, its long gone.
The prize is beautiful Lost Pond. To get a good view down the pond, you may get your feet wet as much of the area around the lake is marshy. Sit quietly when you get there and listen to the birdsong. It’s in a very peaceful setting.
An Option that’s on My Radar – A Hut-to-Hut Hike above Treeline in the White Mountains
Beginning on September 1, you can book huts along the Appalachian Trail. They provide access to the longest continuous ridge walk on the Appalachian Trail – and better yet are fully catered for much of the time that they are open. Three of the eight huts are either at or above treeline so you can imagine how spectacular the views are. You can expect bunkroom style accommodation (and rooms hold 6 – 8 people) along with hearty meals and camaraderie. If you book the huts you only have to carry lunches and snacks along with the usual 10 essentials. Some of the huts are more challenging than others to get to so you do need to factor in your hiking ability when you book. I’m planning a trip for the fall of 2018 when the colours are at their peak.
For more information on all the huts visit the White Mountains of New Hampshire. And book early.
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Thank you to Visit New Hampshire for hosting my visit. All opinions as always are mine alone.
Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta
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