My original plan for this past Sunday (03-April-2011) was to do a quick trek up to Hall's Ledge from the trailhead on Rt. 16, and then do a bushwhack in the vicinity of the Carter Notch Road. However, on my descent from Hall's Ledge, I decided to scrap my bushwhack plans since the snowpack was beginning to soften considerably in the short time-span between my ascent and descent from Hall's Ledge. So, I decided to go with my "plan B", which was to hike up the Black Mountain Ski Trail to the Black Mountain Cabin, and then onward to the 2,757 ft knob at the south end of Black Mountain.
Presented here is a report of my trek to Hall's Ledge. My trek to Black Mountain is presented as a separate Blog report (click HERE to view that report).
This past October (2010) was the first time I'd been to Hall's Ledge. If you're interested in reading about that trip, then please click HERE. On that October trek, I approached from the Carter Notch Road end of the Hall's Ledge Trail. However, since the upper end of that road is gated during the snow season, I used the Rt. 16 approach for my trek this past Sunday.
It's probably worthwhile to say a word about the Rt. 16 trailhead for the Hall's Ledge Trail. The following is excerpted from White Mountain Guide (28th edition):
"This trail starts on the east side of NH 16, just south of the bridge over the Ellis River . . . the trail sign is on a bank behind a guard rail and is easily missed . . . use the Rocky Branch Trail parking lot, 0.1 mi north of the NH 16 bridge."
As suggested in the guidebook, I parked at the Rocky Branch Trail parking lot. But YES, on my first pass, I did indeed miss the trailhead sign!! Not only is this sign behind a guard rail, it is also at the bottom of an embankment which makes it very difficult to see from the road.
Anyway, the minor issue with the trailhead sign was certainly no big deal. The important thing is that I did find it, and then quickly slapped on my snowshoes to begin my hike on a trail that showed no evidence of recent hiker traffic. The trail begins with a scenic but short (maybe 250 ft) stroll along the Ellis River.
Within a tenth of a mile or so from the trailhead, the trail ascends along a high bank which overlooks a brook with a long cascade. To gain a good perspective on this cascade, you need to go off-trail and descend the bank. It's steep, but I thought it was worth the short side-trip. A snapshot of the cascade is shown below.
Further regarding the beginning portion of this trail, perhaps the following is worth mentioning. Although the blazing is predominately yellow, there are some places where the blazing is orange, and even a few sporadic spots where a tree will have both an orange and a yellow blaze (see photo below).
This might be nearly the last time (if not THE last time) that I can make this statement for this snow season. The snowpack was firm! Well, at least for my ascent! As previously mentioned, there was considerable softening by the time I descended, less than 2 hours later.
The snapshot below not only shows the firm snow conditions experienced on my ascent, but also serves to give an idea of the attractive hardwood forest this trail runs through.
Although the viewpoint at Hall's Ledge is just a small clearing, it has what I consider to be an impressive view of Mt. Washington and its eastern spurs and ravines. Shown below is a very slightly zoomed photo of the view from Hall's Ledge.
Within just the recent few years, the Jackson Ski Touring Foundation (JSTF) has opened up a very nice viewpoint that is only a 5-minute walk eastward from Hall's Ledge. It's my understanding that the JSTF folks are committed to keeping this clearing maintained.
Below are just a couple of sample vistas from this clearing that looks southward toward peaks such as Mt. Chocorua, the Moats, Mt. Passaconaway, the Tripyramids, etc.
Below is a photo collage that shows a front and back view of the clearing where the 2 photos above were taken.
Oh! Just one last thing! There were a few south-facing spots along the way that were becoming snow-free. I snapped a picture of a spider who kindly posed for me while it was enjoying sunning itself on a wonderful day in early spring!
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