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09 November 2011

A Short Gallop to White Horse Ledge

White Horse Ledge is such an alluring name.  As I understand it, this name was given because of a light-colored area on the face of this ledge which resembles a dashing white horse.  There is another nearby ledge called Cathedral Ledge which gets its name from a large cavity on the face of this ledge which is said to resemble a cathedral.

Both of these ledges are seen in the snapshot below which was taken from nearby Echo Lake on a day in February.  The wintery conditions seen here were definitely absent from my hike on a warm sunny Wednesday (09-November).

[White Horse Ledge is on the left, and Cathedral Ledge is on the right.  Clicking on this, or any photo in this report will slightly enlarge it.]

Perhaps it's obvious to some readers, but neither the horse nor the cathedral is readily apparent to me in the photo shown above.  However,  the snapshot does at least serve to show the relatively small distance between these two ledges.  Combining both of these destinations into a single hike is certainly not an all-day affair.  It is a short hike,  which is precisely why I opted to do this particular trek.  As mentioned previously in a few of my Blog reports, I only have a few hours available for hiking on Wednesdays, and therefore this type of jaunt is perfect for this situation.

As many readers know (and as is shown on the map below) there are several options for hiking to these two ledges.  Given my short time frame, I opted to drive up the auto road to the top of Cathedral Ledge and then begin my hike from there.  I parked and immediately headed for the trailhead for the Bryce Trail.  My plan was to go to Whitehorse Ledge first, and then upon my return, I'd pay a brief visit to Cathedral Ledge just before jumping in my car to head back to my home.

The Bryce Trail makes a relatively steep drop to the col between Cathedral and White Horse.  And of course, this meant I'd have a steep ascent on the return leg of my journey!  Upon arriving at the col, I picked up the White Horse Ledge Trail.  After a short and moderately steep climb, I arrived at White Horse Ledge where I could look back and see some of the rocky outcroppings on Cathedral Ledge (next photo).

From here, I could also peer down over the edge of the ledge and see Echo Lake (next photo).

Another nice vista was seen looking over the top of Cathedral Ledge with Humphrey's Ledge off in the distance, and the U-shaped Carter Notch visible on the horizon (next photo).

It was somewhat surprising that there was still some lingering autumn color, especially since we essentially have no color remaining near my home in Bethlehem which is just a short 40 minute drive to these ledges.

Not only were autumn colors visible in the distant views, but there were also colorful scenes literally right at your feet, such as those shown in the next two snapshots.

From White Horse Ledge I hiked a short distance to a spot near the junction of the Red Ridge Link trail.  This side-trip enabled me to get a view of the Moat Mountain Range.  However, I was looking directly into the sun which was low in the western sky.  The next snapshot was the best I could do under those unfavorable lighting conditions.

Well, as indicated earlier, the return leg of my journey was merely a retracing of the route that I had taken on the outbound leg.   Once I arrived back at my starting point on Cathedral Ledge, I hiked the couple hundred yards to the viewpoints.  One of my photos taken from here is shown below.   It shows the U-shaped Carter-Notch on the horizon over the top of Humphrey's Ledge which is mostly obscured by afternoon shadows.  It's a view that is similar to that seen from White Horse Ledge, but it is a slightly different perspective.

After completing my brief visit atop Cathedral Ledge I hopped into the car and drove down the auto road.  Since I still had about 15 minutes to spare, I parked at the base of the ledge and did a brief jaunt along one of the rock climbing trails to get a look at this massive hunk of rock from the bottom.   The next two snapshots show my "views from the bottom".

To sum it up, this was one of my better Wednesday wanderings.  It fit perfectly into my timeframe, and it was an unexpected bonus to experience a bit more autumn color before it disappears completely. 


NeoAkela said...

Nice, John! I haven't been on White Horse Ledge since a Moat traverse a few years back. I remember having a difficult time finding the trail from the summit of Cathedral, as there were many herd paths and no signs at the time - first trail sign I saw was at the Red Ridge Link intersection.

Love the colors! I would not have expected that since the trees are bare here at home. Wednesday was a nice treat for a November day.

1HappyHiker said...

Thanks Chris!

Yes, there certainly is a mish-mash of trails on top of Cathedral Ledge. When I was there, I met an apprehensive husband/wife from PA who came up to me and asked how to get back to the parking lot!! Apparently they had become completely befuddled by all the side trails. On a previous visit to Cathedral Ledge, I had another unusual experience. I met Matt Noyes (the weatherman from NECN-TV). He wasn’t lost!


Unknown said...

Another fine one, John! I haven't hiked the Moats area, but I've been to Cathedral once... it feels a lot taller when you're climbing the rock face :)

Karl said...

Hi John,

Very nice trip report. It's honestly not an area that I have ever had a yearning to explore, but you have changed that. Starting at the top of Cathedral Ledge is a really good idea. I'm glad you captured all the color you did at this late date. Pretty impressive!

I really love how the ledge on Cathedral Ledge, almost makes a right-angle over the edge from the top. The rock almost comes to a corner. Most ledges you see are rounded off. I think this one is unique for that reason.

Well done!

1HappyHiker said...

Hey Karl . . . many thanks for posting your comments!

I can relate to what you said about not having a yearning to explore a particular area, and then have my mind changed by a trip report that I’ve read. One of the many wonderful things about blogs and hiking forums is the sharing of information. Perhaps you would agree that there is usually something to glean from nearly every report that is written. The biggest problem is trying to find time to read them all in a manner that does them justice!


1HappyHiker said...

Ryan . . . your kind words are appreciated!

Hmmm! Judging from your comment, I'd say that you've paid a visit to Cathedral Ledge via a route different from mine. Shall we say that it was a bit more vertical in nature? :-)


Unknown said...

Yeah, John. It was many many years ago, when I still did that kind of thing. Nowadays I'd be more than happy to walk the route you did instead. Eventually I just need to visit every trail in the Whites because it seems all of them are pretty great.

Ellen Snyder said...

Great story and photos of your hike as always John. We too haven't done those trails, although it is on our list, especially after your post. One problem for us might be that the state park doesn't allow dogs. Kodi wouldn't want to miss a single hike :)

1HappyHiker said...

Thanks Ellen!

Hmmm! Regarding Kodi, it might be a bit roundabout and convoluted, but perhaps you could consider at least paying a visit to the White Horse Ledge viewpoint. You could take the Moat Mtn Trail + Red Ridge Trail to hook up with the Red Ridge Link Trail, and then hike just a short distance on the White Horse Ledge Trail to the viewpoint. Looking at a map, it appears that the viewpoint itself is about 200 feet inside the boundary of the State Park. So, you’d need to use your judgment as to whether to allow Kodi to “trespass” those few feet, or take turns visiting the viewpoint while one stays back a few feet with Kodi.


Jenny Bennett said...

Beautiful photos. I haven't been looking at the Obs forums for a while, so it wasn't until today that I discovered you had a blog. Looks great--congratulations!

1HappyHiker said...

Thank you Jenny for such a thoughtful response!


Ellen Snyder said...

John - Thanks for the potential dog-friendly route!

One Day in America said...

Looks like another great New England jaunt! I love those rocks. Also love those photos of the color at your feet. Many people only take the "big picture" shots and forget about the beauty of all the small things in the natural world.

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Rita . . . thanks for your comments!

Won’t be long now before autumn’s full spectrum of color will be replaced by stunning shades of white! And that’s okay. There’ll still be plenty of small things in the natural world to photograph. Mother Nature sees to that! ;-)


Summerset said...

Very interesting hike, and yes, the last bit of fall color was a nice bonus!