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01 January 2019

Pinkham Notch, NH: Hiking the Lost Pond Trail and Square Ledge Trail


In mid-December, the daylight hours are short since the winter solstice is close at hand.  And so, if circumstances prevent you from getting an early start, you sometimes need to get a bit creative to come up with a hike that is both gratifying and short enough to be accomplished before darkness settles in.

So, in December 2018, I faced the situation described above.  Therefore, I concocted a short adventure in New Hampshire’s Pinkham Notch region that involved hiking the entirety of both the Lost Pond Trail, and Square Ledge Trail, plus two short segments of the Wildcat Ridge Trail.  And just as an “FYI”, there is another viewpoint named Square Ledge which is located in New Hampshire’s Sandwich Mountain Range.  It is a much longer hike, and it has the distinction of being on a well-known list named “52 With-A-View”.

If you take a look at the map below, perhaps you can get a better sense of this little hike.  I began at the north end of the Lost Pond Trail, the hiked southward to the junction of the Wildcat Ridge Trail.  From this junction, I then hiked eastward for about a tenth of a mile to a seasonal viewpoint of Mt. Washington and its many ravines.  I then retraced my steps back to the junction and walked about a tenth of a mile westward to the Ellis River where I turned around to begin the hike back to my starting point.  But, before reaching my starting point, I diverged from the Lost Pond Trail to follow the Square Ledge Trail to Square Ledge, plus a short side-trip on a spur trail to the Ladies’ Lookout.

My route for this hike is highlighted in pink on the map shown above

Shown below are a few photos that I took on my short hike in Pinkham Notch that involved hiking the entirety of both the Lost Pond Trail, and Square Ledge Trail, plus two short segments of the Wildcat Ridge Trail.

While en route to Pinkham Notch, I pulled to the side of the road to capture this scene of the partially frozen Peabody River in foreground with Mt. Madison in background.
Looking across Lost Pond with Boott Spur ridge at LEFT, Lion Head and Mt. Washington at CENTER, and Nelson Crag ridge at RIGHT.
This zoomed photo of Lion Head and Mt. Washington was taken from Lost Pond.

I hiked about a tenth of a mile or so eastward on the Wildcat Ridge Trail to a seasonal viewpoint where this zoomed photo of Huntington Ravine was taken.
Photo taken from Wildcat Ridge Trail looking toward Rt. 16 while standing on east bank of mostly frozen Ellis River.  Appears that hikers had been able to safely cross the river on ice/snow bridges.
A colorful display of ice at a spot along the Square Ledge Trail
Photo taken from the Ladies’ Lookout which is reachable via a short spur off the Square Ledge Trail.  Prominent features include Lion Head and Mt. Washington at LEFT, Huntington Ravine near CENTER, and Nelson Crag at RIGHT.
It only took about 15 minutes or so to reach Square Ledge from Ladys’ Lookout, however it was shortly after 3 PM when I arrived.   By then, sunlight was already waning in the mountains.  It was nearly dark in Pinkham Notch itself, and the colorful hues of sunset painted the tops of the high peaks from Mt. Washington (at LEFT) to Mt. Madison (at RIGHT).

This hike was short (only about 3.3 miles round-trip), but it was quite gratifying nonetheless.  And so, perhaps this could be a demonstration the axiom that proclaims “less is more” . . . or as a friend of mine often says, "less can be enough". :-)


One Day in America said...

Yes, "less" was definitely enough for this hike! Looks like you had a beautiful December day for a rewarding outing. Stunning photos, as always. The "last light of day" is so beautiful in the mountains.

I'm curious as to the origin of the moniker "Ladies' Lookout"?
Another great posting, John!

Unfortunately I won't be taking any winter hikes this year; Last week I had surgery on my left shoulder to repair a torn labrum and bicep tendon. It's a four month recovery!

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Rita,

Well, first of all, I’m so sorry to learn about your shoulder surgery. You have my very best wishes for an uneventful recovery.

You asked about the origin of the moniker “Ladies’ Lookout”. If there is any documentation as to the origin of the name, I’m unable to find it. Perhaps another more knowledgeable reader of this blog might chime in with a definitive answer.
Regardless, I suspect that the spur to “Ladies’ Lookout” was created and named in those bygone days when it was felt that women would be unable to reach the viewpoint at the top of Square Ledge. Admittedly, the final push from Ladies’ Lookout to the top of Square Ledge is strenuous and footing can be an issue when conditions are wet and/or icy. However, in today’s world, it’s my opinion that “ladies” certainly do not require (nor want) preferential treatment when it comes to hiking. :-)

And last, but certainly not least, thank you once again for being such a faithful follower and responder to my blog.