While many participants in Seek the Peak will rise to the challenge of climbing Mount Washington, others will choose other goals – perhaps realizing that the highest mountain in the Northeast is not for them just yet, or preferring to explore other trails and viewpoints in the area. With that in mind, here are a few ideas for other places to hike – all with trailheads within a short distance of the Seek the Peak After Party:
Lost Pond and Square Ledge
These two beauty spots, close but not too heavily traveled, can be accessed from the A.M.C. Pinkham Notch Visitor Center Parking area. Cross Route 16 carefully, and begin your hike on the Lost Pond Trail (a link in the white-blazed Appalachian Trail). The Lost Pond Trail ambles along the Ellis River, with cool pools and sometimes signs of beaver or moose. The trail leaves the River and ascends slightly to Lost Pond - continue along the peaceful Pond for views of Mount Washington. It's only about a half mile from the road to the Pond, so backtrack and, just before the road, turn east on the Square Ledge Trail. This trail weaves uphill, at first moderately, then steeply – stick to the blue-blazed trail, and avoid the blue diamonds of a ski trail. Scramble up the last few yards with caution, and then enjoy the expansive view down to Pinkham Notch and up to Mount Washington. It's about a half-mile up to the Ledge, and a half mile back to the road.
This distinctive perched rock can be seen from Route 16 in Pinkham Notch, and can be visited using this rugged out-and-back route. Park at the Glen Ellis Falls parking area (or walk carefully down the road from the A.M.C. Visitor Center parking area) and start up the Glen Boulder Trail. Gradual at first, the trail become rather steep and rough, crosses a ski trail, and crosses two streams. It eventually leaves the trees and climbs strenuously to the Glen Boulder at 1.6 miles, at a point which has great views northward and southward. The entire round-trip route is 3.2 miles, and climbs up (and down) almost 1800 feet – not long in distance, but substantial in elevation change.
This rock outcrop is so named because, from a vantage point in Dolly Copp Campground, the rock cliff has the profile of an imp or a little devil. Hiking to it won't let you see the profile (since you'll be standing on top of it!), but will afford a panorama of the Northern Peaks of the Presidential Range. The loop-ish Imp Trail begins on Route 16, 2.6 miles north of the Mount Washington Auto Road. It includes several brook crossings, which are not too troubling in dry weather. It starts with a moderate ascent. Eventually it steepens, and steepens some more, emerging on the Imp cliff-top at 2.2 miles. Enjoy the view, but watch your steps as you travel by the cliff's edge. The next section of trail includes some rather rough footing. After reaching the North Carter Trail at 3.1 miles, start the descent, often on old logging roads, returning to Route 16 at 6.3 miles, .3 miles south of your starting trailhead. The trail ascends 2050 feet in its traverse of the Imp.
Low's Bald Spot and Hermit Lake
This loop route starts and ends at the A.M.C. Visitor Center in Pinkham Notch, and both great viewpoints and less-traveled woodland trails. Start on the Old Jackson Road (actually a path, a link in the white-blazed Appalachian Trail), behind the main visitor building. Follow the Old Jackson Road 1.9 miles to the Mount Washington Auto Road, and carefully cross the Road to the Madison Gulf Trail – follow this trail just .2 miles, then take a left on a side trail'1 mile to Low's Bald Spot, with its view of the Northern Peaks. Backtrack – down the .1 mile side trail, back the .2 mile you came on the Madison Gulf Trail, and back along the Old Jackson Road for .2 mile - until you reach the blue-blazed Raymond Path on the right. This path, one of the oldest on Mount Washington, travels through the forest 2.4 miles to the Tuckerman Ravine Trail (along the way, avoid turns on to the Huntington Ravine Trail or a Forest Service fire road). Head uphill on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail .3 mile to the Hermit Lake Shelter Area, with its view up to Boott Spur and to Lion Head, and into the great glacial cirque of Tuckerman Ravine. For the return, head down the Tuckerman Ravine Trail 2.4 miles to the A.M.C. Visitor Center. Total mileage for this loop trip is 7.8 miles, with about 2300 feet of elevation gain and loss.
Carter Dome and Mount Hight
This loop trip includes a four-thousand footer and a neighboring peak – which is a little lower, but which has a better view! Start on the 19-Mile Brook Trail, whose trailhead is about 1 mile north of the Mount Washington Auto Road. The trail ascends gradually along its namesake brook, and passes the Carter Dome Trail at about 1.9 miles. Continue on the 19 Mile Brook Trail, reaching the little ponds in Carter Notch at 3.8 miles. You can continue here a few hundred feet to visit the AMC Carter Notch Hut – or directly start your STEEP climb up the Carter Moriah Trail, to reach 4.832 foot Carter Dome in a challenging 1.2 miles – the summit is lofty, but somewhat forested, and thus with a restricted view. Continue north on the Carter Moriah Trail, watching for the turn which will lead you to Mount Hight, with its remarkable view in all directions. From the Dome over Hight and down to Zeta Pass is 1.4 miles; from here descend the Carter Dome Trail for 1.9 miles, with its gradual switchbacks back down to the 19-Mile Brook Trail and its 1.9 mile trek back to the road. Total distance for this lollipop loop is 10.2 miles, with a substantial 3600 of feet of elevation gain and then loss.
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