May 9, 2015.
A forty-five minute drive to the next trailhead which is located in Albany at the White Ledge Campground which is not open yet for the season. So parking at the gated entrance and then a short roadwalk up to the trail, White Ledge Trail.
The trail is located straight up the camp road at the north end and immediately jumps into a pine forest.
A few minutes later and the trail reaches the split for the loop to White Ledge. I head on the right for a counter clockwise loop. The trail crosses a brook on a couple of small logs that act as a dam with all the leaf litter collecting there. I take a few minutes to clear the leaves so I can actually see where I am placing my steps to get across. Up further is an old junction where the trail used to come up from Route 16. Today it is just discernible but there is no time to check it out.
The trail meanders through the woods passing a few erratics and something I have not seen yet. There is a stone wall beside the trail and instead of being at right angles to each other, which is typical, it curves at a wide 90° angle.
After a short climb the trail reaches a high point below White Ledge. I can see the top through the trees but getting there is not that easy.
The trail drops back down a bit and then becomes a fairly level walk all the way around the base of White Ledge. Along the way there are a few things to see as Purple Trillium once elusive are found along the trail. Hobblebush blooming are never a rarity as they are everywhere in the forest.
A large boulder slowly rotting away becoming the next layer of soil on the forest floor. Through the trees I can make out the cliffy ledges up to my left and understand why the trail skirts the base. It seems like forever as the trail winds all the way around until finally at a mysterious pile of rocks the trail turns heading up the eastern flank.
It doesn't take long before I reach the first ledges and the views to the north are somewhat restricted. With a little poking around on the ledges I find some views,
The Moats (North, Middle and South) are the closest and most prominent. Beside and back a ways is Kearsarge North a mountain I still have not been to.
Heading up the ledges and I constantly turn around to see what is coming into view next. Bear Mt is the next prominent peak to the left of the Moats. There is a trail over that and Table Mt that still needs to done. Mt Washington is just peeking out over the ridge by Middle Moat.
Continuing up and I make it to the summit which is a wide open ledge complete with a tree growing in the center. There is a ledge view with a limited view to the south and east into Maine.
There is supposed to be another ledge near the summit but reading the description it is kind of confusing. I think it is one of those holdout descriptions from the original authors out of respect. I head down the trail looking for any evidence of the "obscured path" and find nothing. Knowing I have gone too far I turn back and head back over the summit and find the entrance to the ledge. It is indeed obscure but much better views than the one on the summit.
Looking to the northeast and the seed is planted for the next hike as Mt Cranmore and it's ski slopes are visible. Black Cap Mt is plainly visible in the picture but the other two trailed peaks, Peaked Mt and Middle Mt, are hard to make out in the haze. Down below to the southwest I can see Iona Lake and to the right of that is where I am parked off of Route 16.
Satisfied I head back for the second (or third depending how you look at it) time up and over the summit and back down the western side of the mountain. It is just as slabby for part of the way and before heading back into the woods on the last ledge Chocorua is across the way. To it's left is the ridge that the Weetamoo Trail goes over to Bald Mt.
Back in the woods and I pass by several erratics sitting beside the trail. There is even one shaped like a pyramid.
The woods slowly changes as I descend from a mixture of soft and hard woods to the tall evergreen forest down below.
I make it back to the split and shortly I am back at the car. Not a bad day as I have done three hikes in three parts of the state and not a single person seen all day. I had intended to do one more short hike which is kind of along the way home but noticing the time decide against it. Our favorite Chinese restaurant just reopened this past Monday and I want to make it back in time to resume our traditional after hike meal.
Final numbers: 5.2 miles, 2 hours and 55 minutes.
Redline Miles: 4.1, Total to Date: 766.2