Redlining all the trails in the White Mountain Guide isn't one of my aspirations, however I do enjoy hiking trails that are new to me.
Frankenstein Cliff and Ripley Falls are two easy to reach destinations. I've visited both places on several occasions, but always as separate hikes. On 09-July-2012, I hiked a loop which not only included both destinations on a single hike, but also provided the opportunity to incorporate trail-segments that were new to me, i.e. Arethusa-Ripley Falls Trail (from Ripley Falls to the Frankenstein Cliff Trail), and Saco River Trail (from Dry River Trail to east side of Webster Brook).
My route for this 6.8 mile loop is highlighted in yellow on the map that is shown below. My direction of travel was counterclockwise. (As always, click on any photo to enlarge it.)
Before going further with this report, I'd like to add a side note about the Saco River Trail. This trail has always been somewhat tricky to follow through the area where it crosses several channels of Webster Brook. However, with the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, the trail through that area has been obliterated. You need to pick your way through a swath of rocky rubble that is at least 300 ft wide. As of the day of this hike, there were no blazes or cairns to guide you to the other side where the trail picks up again. Photos would have been ineffective in showing the situation that exists here. However, if I'd thought about it, perhaps a short video-clip might have been enlightening.
Okay, let's move onward now with the report of my loop hike. Ripley Falls was the first stop. It wasn't exactly rip-roaring on the day of my visit (see photo below).
Ripley Falls as it trickles down the rock slabs
On this particular day, perhaps the more interesting views were from the top of Ripley Falls. The first photo shows the view looking straight down from the top, as well as the partial view of Mt. Webster on the horizon.
View from top of Ripley Falls
The next photo is similar to the first, but is more of a sideways view.
Sideways view from the top of Ripley Falls
After visiting Ripley Falls, I trekked along the segment of the Arethusa-Ripley Falls Trail that was new to me, and then took the Frankenstein Cliff Trail to my next destinations which were Falcon Cliff and the Frankenstein Cliff itself.
Many readers have visited both Falcon Cliff and Frankenstein Cliff. Therefore, there is little point to presenting more than a few snapshots of the expansive views from these locations. Shown below are two photos, the first one shows one of the vistas from Falcon Cliff, and the second one shows a vista from Frankenstein Cliff.
A vista from Falcon Cliff
A vista from Frankenstein Cliff
By looking through binoculars, or through the magic of zoom photography, you can get some close-up views of many features on the landscape. One such feature is Mt. Chocorua, which is shown in the zoomed photo below.
Zoomed snapshot of Mt. Chocorua
Another feature that I zoomed in on was Crawford Dome. This was of particular interest to me since I'd bushwhacked to this spot in April of this year (Click HERE to read that report.)
Zoomed snapshot of Crawford Dome
After visiting Falcon and Frankenstein Cliffs, it was time to begin the final leg of the loop. This began with a trek along the eastern end of the Frankenstein Cliff Trail which passes under the Frankenstein Trestle (see next photo).
The trestle can be seen from US Rt 302 where there is a highway marker which provides some historical information.
Highway marker with information about Frankenstein Trestle
Shortly after crossing under the trestle, I took a short-cut down to US Rt 302. Possibly, I was following the corridor of the former trail that led from a now abandoned trailhead on Rt. 302. Regardless, it was easy-going through open hardwoods and only took about 5 minutes to reach the road.
As can be seen by the map presented at the beginning of this report, I did a short walk along Rt. 302 to reach the Dry River Campground where I picked up the Dry River Connector Trail which led me to the Saco River Trail.
Hiking along the east end of the Saco River Trail is more than just a beautiful walk through the woods. There are some nice vistas if you wander just a few hundred feet off the trail where it passes close to a beaver meadow. These vistas include a view of Mt. Willey, as well as the backside (non-cliff side) of Frankenstein Cliff.
Mt. Willey as seen from beaver meadow along Saco River Trail
Backside of Frankenstein Cliff as seen from beaver meadow along Saco River Trail
The last photo in this report shows a sign which was prominently displayed at the beginning of the Dry River Connector, as well as the trail junctures for the Saco River Trail. Although the Saco River Trail didn't suffer the full brunt of the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Irene, a small portion of this trail at Webster Brook was obliterated (as described at the beginning of this report).
Signage regarding trail closures due to Tropical Storm Irene
To sum it up, this loop hike provided enjoyable views, plus the opportunity to experience some trail segments that were new to me. Seems like a winning combination!