WELCH MOUNTAIN LEDGE: 7/23/10
Carol and I wanted to get in a short and rewarding Friday morning hike. The easy trek up to the first open ledge on Welch Mountain near Waterville Valley is one of the best of this kind: 2.6 miles round trip, 850-foot elevation gain, and a broad open shelf of granite with a fine view.
The Welch-Dickey Loop Trail is justly famous for its abundance of open ledges, but the lower part of the Welch side of the loop also features an attractive walk through deep hemlock forest along a nameless brook.
There's some nice hardwood forest in this valley, too.
An interesting boulder beside the trail.
Lots of good rock work on this heavily used route.
As you approach the first open ledges, a sign asks hikers to tread lightly and thoughtfully.
When you reach this ledge swath, you're getting close to the first view ledges.
Where the trail breaks into the open, the route is well-defined by rock and wood borders. Hikers should stay inside the designated footway to protect fragile alpine flora.
Looking back, the great SE cliff of Dickey Mountain shines in the morning sun.
The summit of Welch looms close at hand, with the crest of Dickey peering over on the L.
A glacial erratic provides a perfect seat for taking in the view.
Looking NE up the Mad River valley to the Tripyramids and Sleepers.
Zooming on (L to R) North, Middle and South Tripyramid. When the light is better, the two South Slides stand out.
The sprawling ridges of Sandwich Dome rise across the valley.
Jennings Peak on the L; on the R Sandwich Dome towers over Sachem Peak.
We spent almost an hour here in the morning sun; during that time only one other hiker came by. As we headed down, though, we encountered several parties coming up, over thirty hikers in all. If you want solitude on Welch-Dickey, an early start is a must.