It would be a bit of an overstatement to say that it has been "four score and seven years ago" since there was an actively maintained hiking trail to Bald Cap Peak (near Shelburne, NH). But for certain, it has at least been many decades since hikers have been able to reach the ledges on this mountain via a maintained trail. The best I can determine, the former trail to the ledges on Bald Cap Peak was abandoned sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s. The route of this former trail is shown on the map below (created by Thorn Dickinson in 1958).
Map created in 1958 showing location of former route to Bald Cap Peak Ledges
In June of this year (2012), the Shelburne Trails Club opened a trail to the ledges on Bald Cap Peak. The corridor is about 0.4 mile long, and it roughly follows the portion of the old trail that ran from the Peabody Brook Trail to the ledges.
Below is a map which shows the location of the new trail to the Bald Cap Peak ledges.
Map showing location of new Bald Cap Peak Ledges Trail
My friend Marty and I were part of the team that did the final touches to open this new trail. Since we have a personal connection to this pathway, we both felt a desire to make a return visit to see how the trail has fared over the intervening months since it was opened. And so, on 10-Nov-2012, we drove to Shelburne and began our trek to the ledges via the Peabody Brook Trail (PBT).
Regarding the PBT, you might have noticed on the old 1958 map shown above that the PBT was once part of the Appalachian Trail (AT). In 1952/1953, the AT was rerouted to the PBT. Prior to that, the AT had followed the Mahoosuc Trail from Gorham to Mt. Hayes (and beyond). The AT was once again re-routed when it was moved from the PBT to follow the Centennial Trail which had been built in 1976.
I make mention of the PBT's connection to the AT for the following reason. I've travelled the PBT on numerous occasions, but this is the first time that I've spotted what is shown in the composite photo below. On the left side of the photo is a metal marker embedded in a tree along the PBT corridor. Shown on the right side of the photo is the image of an old AT marker that I found on the Internet. My assumption is that the image on the left side of the photo is an old AT marker that was covered over with blue-blaze paint at some point after the AT was relocated.
Metal trail marker along Peabody Brook Trail as compared to marker once used along AT corridor
With that rather longwinded introduction, here are a few snapshots taken during the hike Marty and I did to the ledges on Bald Cap Peak.
Winter conditions are progressing from the mountaintops to the lowlands. Shown below is a composite photo. The left panel shows the conditions along the trails for about the first half of our hike. On the second half of the hike, the trail and the surroundings were snow-covered, as is shown on the right panel of the photo.
Left panel shows conditions for first-half of hike; right panel shows conditions for second-half
Shown below is the sign at the beginning of the trail leading to the Bald Cap Peak Ledges.
Sign at beginning of trail leading to the Bald Cap Peak Ledges
The next photo shows a scene of some of the woodlands along the route to the ledges.
Some of the woodlands along the route to the ledges
Shown below is a snapshot that was taken from the edges of the ledges on Bald Cap Peak!
Edges of the ledges on Bald Cap Peak
The view from the ledges is expansive! It includes a picturesque view of the Androscoggin River Valley, plus peaks in western Maine and in the Carter-Moriah Range, as well as peaks in the northern Presidential Range. The next few photos provide a sampling of those views.
Looking eastward along the Androscoggin Valley toward western Maine
Southwesterly view toward peaks in Carter-Moriah Range and Presidential Range
After having lunch on the ledges and enjoying the views, we headed back for the trailhead via the same route that we used for the outbound portion of our trek. It was late in the day as we made our descent. This provided a set-up for some dusky scenes as sunset fast approached. The next photo was taken during the "twilight's last gleaming. It shows peaks in the Carter-Moriah Range with Reflection Pond in the center of the scene.
Peaks in Carter-Moriah Range and Reflection Pond as sunset approached
To sum it up, the trail to the ledges on Bald Cap Peak is an impressive addition to the network of trails maintained by the Shelburne Trails Club! The overall trek to the ledges is approximately 5.4 miles (round-trip), and it involves an elevation gain of about 1,900 ft.