Being located directly across the road (U.S. Route 2) from the northern Presidential Range, Mt. Crescent is certainly qualified to be considered as a "neighbor" to the likes of Mts. Madison, Adams and Jefferson. But, compared to those 5,000+ ft Presidential giants across the road, the mountains in the Crescent Range are shall we say . . . smaller! The highest peak in this mountain range is Black Crescent Mountain (3,264 ft), but it can only be reached by bushwhacking. Mt. Crescent (3,251 ft), on the other hand, can be reached by hiking trails and is nearly as tall as Black Crescent.
On a sunny Sunday afternoon (20-March-2011), it was decided to pay a visit to Mt. Crescent and take a look out of its "windows" which provide views of the northern Presidential Range, as well as some sweeping vistas of peaks in the Carter-Moriah Range, and the Pilot Range.
From the outset, it promised to be a great day when I was fortunate to find an open spot at the small trailhead parking pull-off at the end of Randolph Hill Road. Since there is only room enough for about 3 cars, I considered myself lucky indeed. The next good omen was that it was readily apparent that the Mt. Crescent Trail had seen some recent snowshoe traffic. This favored the odds that trail breaking would be unnecessary. (And in fact, it did turn out that all the trails I travelled were nicely broken out.)
I donned my snowshoes at the trailhead and headed onto the Mt. Crescent Trail. In very short order, I passed the myriad of trail junctions on the lower end of the trail. Those intersecting trails include the Cook Path, Carlton Notch Trail, Boothman Spring Cutoff, Jimtown Logging Road/snowmobile trail.
Further up the trail, I came to the junction with the Castleview Loop Trail. It's unclear to me as to why I've never taken the time during my past travels to explore the first part of this trail, especially since there are two viewpoints that are less than 5 minutes from this junction. The first spot is named Castleview Rock (a huge flat-toped glacial erratic boulder), and the second spot you come to is named Castleview Ledge.
As advertised, both spots do provide a view of the rock formations along the Castellated Ridge leading up to Mt. Jefferson. And although the "castleviews" are pleasant, I suspect they might have been more dramatic in the past before trees grew up and obstructed the view.
The photo below is a collage showing a portion of Castleview Rock, as well as the view of the Castles from that location.
This next photo (below) is a collage showing the view of the Castles from Castleview Ledge. It also shows the rather respectable view of the Presidentials that is available from that location. I'd venture to say that if you only had time for say about an hour for a short hike, then this ledge could be a worthy destination to consider.
After this short digression down the Castleview Loop Trail I returned to the main trail to continue my trek to Mt. Crescent. Upon reaching the junction of the Mt. Crescent Trail and Crescent Ridge Trail I needed to decide whether to do this loop clockwise or counterclockwise.
I've done this loop both ways, but for whatever reason, I prefer the clockwise direction. And so, I continued onward along the Mt. Crescent Trail and soon arrived at what is known as the "South Viewpoint". This wide-open ledge provides unobstructed views toward the Presidentials, and predominately wide-open views toward the Carter-Moriah Range.
The photo below is sort of a mini-collage of the views from the South Viewpoint.
From the South Viewpoint, it's almost literally a hop, skip and a jump to the "North Viewpoint". From here, there is a very dramatic view of the peaks in the Pilot Range all aligned in a row. The Weeks, Mt. Cabot, The Bulge and The Horn, they are all there! And, you can even spot the snow-covered gum-drop shaped Percy Peaks off in the distance to the north.
The photo below spotlights the views from the North Viewpoint.
TO SUM IT UP: The hike to Mt. Crescent is short in terms of distance (3.4 miles round-trip), but with a 1,500 ft elevation gain, it still provides an adequate workout. And, it also offers quite an exceptional variety of views. There are up-close and personal views of the Presidential neighbors right across the road, and sweeping vistas of the Carters-Moriah Range, plus the dramatic line-up of the peaks in the Pilot Range.
All things considered, it's very worthwhile making a neighborly visit to the Crescent Range now and then!
Below is a collection of a few other snapshots taken on this trek to Mt. Crescent.
Map of my route:
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