Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge is a beautiful place in Northern NH that has a fabulous range of habitats including bogs, ponds, and lowland spruce-fir forest. There are fun boardwalks to explore as well as multiple trails, some of which lead you to viewing platforms with excellent views of the Northern Presidentials.
Estimated Time: 2-3 hours round-trip
Distance: 1.5 mile round-trip (longer with a loop through George’s Gorge
Lila’s Ledge is a great 1/2 day hike for families that is relatively easy and provides a great view of Pinkham Notch. Begin at the Pinkham Notch Visitor’s Center and take the Old Jackson Rd. Trail (OJR) from behind the Visitor’s Center by the bathroom. After approximately 0.3 miles you will cross over a large bridge. Immediately after is a small trail on the right called the Crew Cut Trail. Follow this trail for another 0.3 miles until you reach Liebeskind’s Loop. Turn left on Liebeskind’s Loop and almost immediately after a short spur trail to Lila’s Ledge will branch off on the right.
To return, you can either retrace your steps on the Crew Cut Trail, or try one of these two loop options:
1. OJR Loop – 2.3 Miles Total
After leaving Lila’s Ledge, turn right to continue on Liebeskind’s Loop. After about 0.5 miles you will intersect with the George’s Gorge Trail. Turn right and follow it 0.3 miles until you reach the Old Jackson Rd. Turn left and follow it 0.8 miles back to the Pinkham Notch Visitor’s Center.
2. George’s Gorge Loop – 2 Miles Total
After leaving Lila’s Ledge, turn right to continue on Liebeskind’s Loop. After about 0.5 miles you will intersect with the George’s Gorge Trail. Turn left and follow it for 0.5 miles down through George’s Gorge, and back to the Crew Cut Trail. Turn right on the Crew Cut Trail, which will lead you to the OJR where you initially turned off.
Note: George’s Gorge can be slightly more difficult hiking particularly when trails are wet and slippery.
Estimated Time: 2-3 hrs roundtrip
Distance: 2.2 – 2.8 miles roundtrip
Mt. Crag in Shelburne has one of the greatest rewards for effort ratios in the area. This relatively short loop not only follows a lovely trail through picturesque forest, it also leads to a fantastic rocky summit with great views of the Androscoggin Valley and the Northern Presidentials! The mountain can be hiked either in a loop (requiring a bit of road walking) or for a shorter option simply go out and back. For either option, begin on the eastern side by parking at the Austin Brook Trailhead.
The Austin Brook Trailhead is located on North Rd. in Shelburne (parking is across the st.) and is easily recognizable by the white fence and turnstile gate (yes, it has a turnstile!). The trail begins by following an old logging road that runs along the Austin Mill Brook. After 0.4 miles you will reach a 4-way junction. Turn left and take the Yellow Trail towards Mt. Crag. Shortly after the junction you will reach a group of giant boulders on the left that provide an excellent opportunity for poking around in small caves!
After the boulders the Yellow Trail begins to climb uphill through a deciduous forest. It switchbacks a couple of times before leveling off and emerging on the open summit of Mt. Crag. From the summit you can either reverse directions and head back the way you came, or continue on the Yellow Trail west towards the Gates Brook Trail. This side of the mountain is a bit steeper but is a nice contrast as it is largely a coniferous forest for most of the descent. It can be a bit more challenging, however, especially in wet weather.
After a short but steep downhill, you will reach the junction with the Gates Brook Trail, which continues to the right up towards Middle Mountain. To finish the Mt. Crag loop, turn left and follow the wide trail down to the road. After 0.5 miles, you will return to North Rd. and can walk along the pavement back towards the parking.
Note: For added excitement, take a short detour to the Cable Car found on the Yellow Trail. It can be reached by turning right instead of left at the junction of the Yellow Trail and the Austin Brook Trail.
Estimated Time: 3-4.5 hrs roundtrip
Distance: 3.4 miles roundtrip
Mt. Crescent makes an excellent destination for those looking for a slightly more difficult half day hike. With over 1200 feet of elevation gain in 1.7 miles, Mt. Crescent ranks as one of the more difficult “Moderate Hikes” reviewed on this website. That being said, it is still a great choice for kids who have some experience hiking and offers wonderful views.
Recently a new parking lot was made for Mt. Crescent. It is much larger than the previous one, and cuts off a bit of the trail. To get there, simply follow Randolph Hill Rd. all the way to the end. There is plenty of parking and the lot is plowed all year round. The Mt. Crescent Trail is marked with orange blazes and leaves the parking lot from the northwest corner where it crosses the logging road and heads in to the forest.
Right from the beginning the trail starts to climb up. After a little ways it reaches a junction with the Cook Path on the right and then continues to the left to the junction with the Castle View Loop. Here you can take a short detour to Castle View Rock, which can be found by following the signs down a spur trail from the main Castle View Loop Trail. Castle View Rock is a large boulder that can be climbed on for views of the Northern Presidentials. For younger children or those seeking a shorter hike, this can make for a nice destination and can even be turned into a loop by following the Castle View Loop over to the Carlton Notch Trail.
After the junction with the Castle View Loop, the Mt. Crescent Trail levels out slightly as it travels through a more open patch of forest. It then climbs briefly before reaching the junction with the Crescent Ridge Trail. Both the Crescent Ridge Trail and the Mt. Crescent Trail lead to the summit of Mt. Crescent, which is 0.6 miles from this junction. The Mt. Crescent Trail is slightly more challenging as it climbs over some slabby ledges just before reaching the summit. The Crescent Ridge Trail wraps around the mountain to the east, before climbing somewhat steeply to the summit. The trails can be combined to make a loop, in which case going up the Mt. Crescent Trail and down the Crescent Ridge Trail would be preferable.
While the summit of Mt. Crescent is somewhat unremarkable, there are excellent views both north towards the Kilkenny Range and south towards Mt. Madison, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Jefferson. Both view points are clearly marked with signage.
Estimated Time: 2 – 3 hrs
Distance: 3.5 miles for entire loop
The summit of Pine Mountain and the ledges on the south side are home to some of the best views of the Northern Presidentials. There are two ways to reach the peak. The longer route uses the Pine Mountain Trail and leaves from near the center of Gorham. This route is shorter and requires less elevation gain and leaves from Pinkham B Road, just across from the Pine Link Trailhead. There is parking available for free at the trailhead.
The hike begins just opposite the parking area and for the first 0.9 miles follows the Pine Mountain Road – a private dirt road that gives access to the Horton Center. After 0.9 miles the Ledge Trail branches to the right. It passes under a big cliff and then climbs fairly steeply for a short ways to the top of the cliff. It is from this point that there are excellent views across Pinkham Notch and to the mountains in the south.
From the ledge the trail continues more gradually to the summit of Pine Mountain where you will find the Horton Center. On the summit you can reconnect with the Pine Mountain Road and follow this back down to the parking area.
Estimated Time: 1-2 hours
Distance: 1.5 miles roundtrip
The Waterfall Loop is an excellent hike for beginners or anyone looking for a scenic stroll in the woods all year long! In the summertime there are numerous pools that make for wonderful swimming. In the spring the falls will rush with the snow melt from the mountain summits. In the winter the frozen water and snow creates a magical environment, where you can see animal tracks crossing the brook and holes where the flowing water is still visible. And in the fall leaves in the water will add color to the brook bed!
Start from the Appalachia trailhead on Rt. 2 in Randolph. There are many trails leaving from this trailhead, but they are all clearly marked. Look for signs for the Fallsway Trail. After you leave the parking lot, there is a short patch of forest followed by the Rail Trail and power lines. After the power lines you will reenter the hardwood forest following the yellow blazed Fallsway Trail and will soon meet up with Snyder Brook. From here the trail stays on the west side of the brook and continues uphill passing by 3 set of waterfalls – Gordon Falls, Salroc Falls, and lastly Tama Falls. As you hike up hill you will pass by many excellent pools and flat rocks perfect for swimming and picnicking! Relax, cool off, and enjoy the mossy banks of Snyder Brook.
Just before Tama Falls, the Valley Way Trail briefly joins the Fallsway Trail. Continue to follow signs for the Fallsway Trail/Fallsway Loop and you will soon reach Tama Falls, 0.7 miles from the parking lot. Just above Tama Falls you can cross over Snyder Brook on some flat rocks and head down the other side of the brook via the Brookbank Trail. Enjoy the falls from a different perspective and be sure to check out the very large flat rock about halfway down! At the bottom you will reach the power lines. Here you can either cross back over Snyder Brook to rejoin the Fallsway Trail or look for a small path just to your right that continues downhill to the Rail Trail. If you choose the 2nd option, you will meet the Rail Trail just to the right of a large bridge. Turn left, cross the bridge, and follow the trail back to the parking lot.
All of the following information is based on taking the Pasture Path from High Acres Rd in Randolph.
Estimated Time: 2-3 hours roundtrip
Distance: 2.8 miles roundtrip
The Randolph Mountain Club (RMC) maintains a vast network of trails in the Randolph area. While there are many routes that access Lookout Ledge, the Pasture Path offers the easiest and likely fastest option.
Access the Pasture Path from High Acres Rd. which is a left hand turn off of Randolph Hill Rd. The trail begins from the right side of the road just after it makes a 90 degree right turn. The trailhead is indicated with a small white sign. At the turn in the road there is a dirt area with some space for parking.
The first 0.6 miles of the trail are relatively flat. The trail passes through some boggy spots, crosses one other trail, and goes through a slightly overgrown clearing. At the time when we hiked this route, there were a few blow-downs (trees fallen over in the trail) so pay attention when following the trail, which is marked with red blazes. At 0.6 miles, you will reach a junction with the Four Soldiers Path. Take a left and then almost immediately after turn right to continue on the Pasture Path (the Notchway Trail will go off straight ahead).
Just after the two junctions, there are a few small stream crossings, which are quite scenic. They are all tributaries of Carlton Brook. After the third crossing the trail begins to climb moderately for the last half of a mile or so. Before you reach the actual ledge (which will be marked by a sign) you will come to a small bench and a clearing looking out to King’s Ravine. Just a minute or so further past the bench is Lookout Ledge. It is a good sized ledge perfect for eating a snack or lunch, taking a nap, or simply enjoying the view of the Northern Presidentials.
Estimated Time: 1-2 hours round-trip
Distance: 1 mile on trail round-trip (plus 2 miles on gravel roads round-trip to reach trailhead)
Mascot Pond makes for a great destination on a hot summer day, or when you want an easier hike to what feels like a remote location. To reach this trail, park at the Trestle Bridge in Gorham and follow the directions to the Mahoosuc Trail found here. It is a bit complicated to find, so make sure to follow the directions carefully. Once you reach the trailhead, take the Mahoosuc Trail as if you were heading to Mt. Hayes. Soon after you start up the trail you will cross under power lines. After just about 1/2 of a mile, you will reach the side trail to Mascot Pond on the right. Take this side trail. It is flat from this junction all the way to the pond, only one or two minutes down the trail.
From the sandy shores of Mascot Pond you will be able to see all the way to Mt. Washington on a clear day. If you turn around and look “behind” the pond, you will see a fairly large rock slide. Mascot Pond is also the site of the abandoned Mascot Mine. The mine was built in the 1880’s to extract lead, zinc and silver ores from the sides of Mt. Hayes. These materials were then sent via train to New Jersey. The buildings that once stood here are long since gone, but if you are feeling adventurous you can carefully climb up the rocky slope to some of the mine entrances. Today these entrances are gated off to protect over 1500 bats from five species that hibernate in the cave and Mascot Mine is the largest hibernaculum (location used for hibernation) in the state of NH!
Estimated Time: 1-2 hours round-trip
Distance: 1.5 miles round-trip
Mt. Jasper is a WONDERFUL hike for anyone looking to get out and get to a great view but doesn’t have time for a full day commitment. The hike is short with a couple of moderate uphill climbs and in less than an hour you can reach the rocky summit, which offers great views of the city of Berlin.
The trailhead for Mt. Jasper is located behind the Berlin Highschool on Willard St. in Berlin. Drive back through the parking lots and park just above the track. From here you should be able to see an ATV trail just to the right of the track fence. The trail begins just down this path on the far side of the kiosk. It is marked with a sign indicating the mileage and blue blazes.
The trail begins by climbing some rock steps. Shortly in, 2 small dirt paths merge from the right. Continue to follow the blue blazes. You will reach a small stream that flows down to the right of the trail. About a third of the way to the summit the trail crosses the Suicide Hill Snowmobile Trail. On the far side there are some wooden bog bridges to cross as well as another trail branching off on the right. Continue to follow the blazes and stay to the left at any unclear junctions.
After one more short uphill climb you will emerge on the rocky summit of Mt. Jasper. Be mindful that there are steep and dangerous cliffs. Children should be warned to not run around and rough-house on the summit! Looking south you will see the city of Berlin and the Dead River. Across the river is Mt. Jericho.
If you continue around the summit you can also get a very nice view looking to the northwest which includes more of the Dead River and the Kilkennys.
Estimated Time: 4.5-5.5 hours round-trip
Distance: 4.4 miles on trail round-trip (plus 2 miles on dirt roads to access the trailhead)
Mt. Hayes in Gorham makes for a wonderful 1/2 day hike to some tremendous views of the town of Gorham and the Northern Presidential Range. One of the trickiest parts of this hike is finding the trailhead! The best way to access the trail is by parking at the Trestle Bridge on Rt. 16 in Gorham, just past VIP Tires when you are heading north (see map below). From there, cross over the bridge and turn left of the far side. Follow the dirt path past the pond, until you reach a “T”. Take a right here to connect with the ATV trail and then a left to cross over the canal. Just on the far side of the bridge, look for a small trail on your right. Follow this until it connects with another dirt road, take a right and continue walking (about 10 minutes) until you reach the trailhead on your left. This route is indicated in red on the map below:
Once you reach the trailhead (shown by an orange star on the map above), you will begin hiking through the woods (yellow path on map). The route to the top of Mt. Hayes follows the Mahoosuc Trail and is marked with blue blazes. The route can be a bit wet in the spring and early summer. The trail starts off gradually and quickly crosses some power lines. After half of a mile, there is a spur trail on the right to Mascot Pond, which also makes for a very nice destination. Shortly after there is a short steeper section before the path levels out and crosses over a dirt road. On the far side the trail climbs moderately through some muddy sections before one last steep section to the top.
Before you reach the actual summit, there is a small path to the right which leads out onto some fabulous ledges with great views. This is a great place to have a picnic lunch, eat a snack or simply relax and take in the views.
From here, you can continue on the Mahoosuc Trail if you want. The actual summit is .3 miles further but doesn’t offer a view and is just marked by a cairn. For most people, the ledges are a good destination. Return to your car on the same route you took up.