Saturday, June 2, 2012


I hadn't done the scenic loop over White Ledge (2,010 ft.), a detached eastern spur of Mt. Chocorua, in a few years. It was time for a return visit on a beautiful (though buggy) last day of May. White Ledge has no "knock-your-socks-off" views, but there are several directional vistas, and the trail is pleasant, with varied woods and some nice sections of ledgy walking.

I parked in a designated day-use area by the restroom on the main road in the WMNF White Ledge Campground and walked a short distance up the road to the trail sign.

The first short stretch led through a beautiful hemlock forest to the loop junction. The mosquitoes were definitely present, but not as bad as I feared. 

After crossing a brook and climbing a bit, the trail joined an old farm road (which to the right was formerly an alternate access to the trail from Rt. 16, but this route has been decommissioned by the Forest Service) for some easy hardwood walking.

There are many old stone walls in this area of old pastureland. My 1940 AMC White Mountain Guide describes this section as the Iona Trail, noting that it leads through open pastures and past old farms.

A stiff climb lifts you to a little saddle between White Ledge and a wooded nubble known as Roundtop, then the trail descends towards the NE base of White Ledge, losing 200 ft. of elevation.

Near this large pile of rocks, the trail reverses direction and begins climbing to the summit of White Ledge.

There are some large oaks on the lower part of the climb.

Halfway up, spruce and pine take over and you emerge on granite ledges.

A fine scenic stretch of trail.

Gently sloping slabs lead you upward.

At about 1800 ft., you  can look back for a view of South Moat (L) and Kearsarge North (R).

Zoomed in for a closer look. The ragged cliffs of Haystack can be seen under South Moat. I took a long lunch break here, lounging on the sun-baked granite. There was enough of a breeze rustling the pines to keep the black flies at a manageable level, with the help of long sleeves and long pants.

From another spot you can see the entire Moat Range, with North Moat on the L.

Looking towards the Green Hills of Conway, dominated by the rounded form of Black Cap.

Higher up, at a turn in the trail, there's a view NW to (L to R) Mt. Carrigain, Mt. Tremont, Bear Mtn., Mt. Nancy, Mt. Bemis, Mt. Willey and Table Mtn.

At the actual summit of White Ledge, the views are limited. The "VIEW" side path indicated at the top of the picture leads to a restricted easterly vista.

The best easterly view is found by returning 60 yds. north from the summit along the main trail and then following an obscure side route down over a ledge step and a few yds. farther to this nice open perch atop the mountain's steep eastern face. Maine's Pleasant Mtn. is seen on the L, with the Burnt Meadow Mountains and others seen farther to the R. I tried to hang out here for a while, but there was no breeze and the black fly assault was relentless.

I was soon driven off the east ledge, and headed down the upper part of the western loop, where a steep ledge offered framed vistas of the Ossipee Range....

....and the craggy crest of Mt. Chocorua.

One of my objectives today was to try and find a couple of outcrops on the western shoulder of White Ledge that promised an unusual view of Mt. Chocorua seen across a broad valley. I had seen these ledges from Carter Ledge, Chocorua, and other vantages. I struck off through brushy woods and across occasional sloping slabs, taking care to avoid trampling lichens and mosses.

It took some wandering around to find these needle-in-haystack ledges, but the views made it worth while. Here is a seldom-seen angle on two northern spurs of Chocorua: Blue Mountain (L) and unofficially-named Hobbs Mtn. (R).

A closer look at the sharp peak of Blue. Despite its steepness, this trailless peak (most easily ascended from  Middle Sister Trail in a nearby col to the south) offers only limited views. Interesting spot, though.

The broadside view of Chocorua and the Three Sisters did not disappoint. The wooded backside of Carter Ledge is seen under Chocorua's summit.

From here, there was also a view NW to (L to R): Bear, Nancy, Bemis, Willey, Avalon, Table, Pierce, Resolution, Eisenhower, and Big Attitash with Washington peeking above a col.

A closer look at Table and Big Attitash. The Rainbow Slabs and the Painted Walls can be seen down in front of Table.

The long south ridge of Chocorua.

There was a gusty breeze here at times, but when it stopped, the black flies came a-swarmin'! Time to head out.

Back on the trail - a pleasant stretch on the upper part of the western loop through leafy oak woods.

Then there's a long, pretty steep descent. Partway along this, at 1600 ft., an unmarked side path leads L to a fine open ledge with a SE view of ponds, lakes and rolling hills. The water bodies are (L to R): Iona Lake, Whitton Pond, Silver Lake and Ossipee Lake. Green Mtn. is in the distance beyond Whitton Pond.

Behind the ledge a single columbine was in bloom.

A short whack to the L led to another ledge with a view of nearby Roundtop.

There are many good rock waterbars on the steeper sections of the White Ledge Loop Trail.

Near the bottom hemlocks take over the forest.

Before reaching the loop junction, the trail crosses a tumbling stream in a deep hemlock ravine - a nice way to close out this enjoyable loop.


  1. Thanks for posting this Steve! This is one of the many, many hikes I've yet to do. Since the route doesn't involve a 4K peak, one rarely sees postings about this trek. And so, it was terrific to read such a thorough description, and to see photos of the sights to be seen at various points along the way. Wonderful job, as always!

    Oh! And that photo of your black-fly infested T-shirt was impressive!


  2. Thanks, John - this one does tend to get overlooked, even though it's close to Conway. The black flies were definitely out in force. I thought the yellow shirt might be less attractive to them than a blue shirt - so much for that theory!