King Ravine Trail

July 9, 2017.

I had big plans for today but the Whites had other plans for me. It's easy to get humbled by some of these trails and when that happens I just adapt and take what I can get. I was hoping to knock out the rest of the trails in King Ravine and some surrounding trails but as usual I bit off more than I could chew.

I got to the Appalachia parking lot just before seven and maybe this was an omen but the lot was already filled. Parking off the side of Route 2 I started up the trail following my foot steps from a month ago. Heading up Airline to Short Line to the junction with King Ravine Trail. This time instead of turning right onto King Ravine Trail I stayed straight and right away came across Mossy Fall.


A couple minutes later and I start hitting the large boulders that this ravine is so well known for.


No clambering yet as these are pass through or just lying next to the trail. In just a few more minutes I get a peek of Nowell Ridge off to my right. Not much further and Crag Camp can be seen high atop Nowell Ridge. Just a month ago I was up at Crag Camp looking down into this spot now it is the reverse.


I make it to the junction for Chemin des Dames. A look up at the trail that is supposed to be my descent route back into King Ravine.


Right after is the junction for the Subway. A short trail that actually goes under the huge boulders. From this vantage point I can see where King Ravine Trail goes up the headwall. Just follow the path of boulders that lead down from the top to the bottom. To the right is where the Great Gully Trail leads up. The other route I plan top take once I have made it up King Ravine Trail. It heads up the cleft just below the bald spot.


I opt for the elevated section first and leave the Subway for later. Back in the woods, which I thought I would be exposed the whole way, the trail leads up to the junction for the Great Gully Trail. A couple minutes in and I reach the junction for the Ice Caves Loop. It is another one of those oddities in the redlining spreadsheet that is not included. But rather than miss it and find out I should have done it I drop my pack and poles bringing only the GPS for tracking reasons.


Immediately the loop drops down into a crevice like cave. Up and out and then back down into a tight crack.


Some scrambling and then near the end is the second spot along the loop where the winter snow and ice is still present even though it is July. A ten minute back down King Ravine Trail to retrieve my bag and poles then a return back up to the upper junction with the loop. Further up the trail runs through some low scrub as the headwall can be seen ahead.


Behind me I can hear the only hiker I would see on this trail as he is having a blast coming up. We chat for a few minutes before he leaves me in the dust and I catch glimpses of him as I slowly pick my way up the bouldery path. The progress is slow as I stop to regain my breath and legs with the relentless climb up the headwall. The occasional look back reassures me I am making progress.


Looking over to Nowell Ridge and I am at the same elevation as Crag Camp. Finally I can see a familiar milestone as the large smooth slab that marks the entrance to the top of King Ravine is visible ahead.


When I reach the slab it is much bigger and taller than I remember. Impressive as all hell as I look up to the top!


Then just a few short minutes later I am at the end of King Ravine Trail with Mt Madison looming in the background. I've made it and the King Ravine Trail is 100% done! It only took two hours from the time I arrived at the junction with Chemin des Dames Trail to reach the top of King Ravine. Of course that was only nine tenths of a mile so...not my fastest hiking time!


I needed to get Airline Cutoff so a left turn onto Airline where the junction is just a short ways down. In less than fifteen minutes I reached the junction and took the short Airline Cutoff that connects to Madison Hut. It's a wicked short trip along this trail and in no time I make it to the hut and go inside for a well deserved break.


There are so many trails on this side of the Presi's it is an impossible task trying to get them in any logistical manner. Combine the shear number of trails with the terrain and elevation gain it becomes an even mightier task. The plan was to at some point head back into the ravine and come back up Great Gully Trail and then pick off more trails on the way down. As I headed out of the hut it was almost noon time and there was no way I could physically do the headwall twice in one day. So down Valley Way I go, which is one of my least favorite trails up here, making my way to Upper Bruin. Looking at the entrance and I cringe seeing the elevation gain. My poor legs are already beat up and this is not what I was expecting. It is only two tenths in length but most of it was a tiring climb. Thankfully it leveled out towards the end where it junctions off with Airline.


Returning back down Upper Bruin and the trip back never seems as long as the initial trek. Continuing down Valley Way until I reach the junction with Lower Bruin which is another short trail of two tenths that ends at another not so favorite, Watson Path. This trail is a mix bag as it descends down. It starts out rough and then bouldery before smoothing out a bit at the bottom. Nearing the junction and I run into a hiker who looks perplexed as I approach him. He is looking for the Scar Trail and is not sure where he is. He explains he and some friends are racing to get to Adams and he is looking for Watson Path to get to Scar Trail which gets him to Airline. Well he is on Watson just on the wrong side of Valley Way. He needed to take a right off of Valley Way. I showed him the map and sent him on his way in the correct direction.


Reaching the junction with Valley Way and I see now how he missed his turn. Watson Path is signed for the way he went but the other side of Watson Path is not and kind of obscure with the way it is orientated. That's the trail in the picture next to the axed tree. I need this small piece of Watson Path because I also missed it when I was last here thinking it ended at Valley Way. It's a very short piece of trail through some very nice woods. It ends/begins at the section where Scar Trail splits off in both directions. Not feeling the energy anymore I head down Scar Trail which leads back down to Valley Way. I have to come back for Chemin des Dames so I'll get the rest of this trail then.


At the junction with Scar Loop there is a huge wall of granite that must be the lookout on top. Again I'll be back so no expending any more energy to climb up that.


Reaching Valley Way and just a long boring push back to Appalachia. Along the way it was kind of quiet in regards to not seeing many hikers either coming up or going down. It may be one of the popular routes due to the hut but again it is not one of my favorites. Not the results I had planned for but I did have a blast in the ravine, knocked off a few more trails and get to come back again to savor another trip into King Ravine!

Final numbers: 8.7 miles, 7 hours 55 minutes.

Redline Miles: 2.2, Total to Date: 1348.5