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Thread: Lookout Ledge in Randolph - Hiking in my "backyard"

  1. #1
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    Lookout Ledge in Randolph - Hiking in my "backyard"

    http://www.concordmonitor.com/Outdoo...eauty-10779671

    One of the side benefits of the new woodlot is that I now own a portion of a very old RMC trail. When Randolph was first being occupied by hikers in the 1800 even before the Boston And Maine railroad came through town, the Ravine House on Durand road was in business hosting hikers. I expect many more recent hikers in the whites may have run into references to the Ravine House which is now a grassy park with a couple of trailheads across from the Ravine House Pool. I expect like myself they envision a AMC hut size facility. In actuality it was much bigger. This blog has a lot of info and pictures of the complex http://north-country-chronicles.blog...oser-look.html. Most of the major trails from the Northern Presidentials funneled to the Ravine house site but when RT2 was relocated away from Durand Road, the Appalachia parking lot was built and lower portions of these trails were relocated to end up at Appalachia to avoid private land. Prior to its existence as a parking lot, Appalachia was one of the several local train stations serving Randolph and would be the typical spot where guests from Boston would arrive.

    In addition to the major routes that crisscross the Northern slopes of Madison, Adams and Jefferson, there is an extensive network of local trails that run to many points on the southern facing slopes of the Crescent range. There was another major tourist accommodation up on Randolph Hill Road which is occasionally referred to in older references as the Mt Crescent road and it led to a high plateau on the hill ending at the Mt Crescent House http://north-country-chronicles.blog...-randolph.html .Unlike the current era of folks heading up from Boston for dayhikes or weekends, many of the guests of the two hotels stayed for the season which traditionally started around July 4th and ended on Labor day. Cars didn't really factor into the early equation so walking by trails was the way of getting around town. There was a friendly rivalry between the local lodgings but the Ravine house was the most central and most trails led to it with secondary trails being built to access the eastern part of town. The guests tended to be a lot of academics from the Boston area and many eventually bought land from the local farmers who originally owned much of the land and had local builders with a distinctive style build them summer residences. Many are still within the same family and some are only used a few weeks or months each year. As these summer places got built, many more local trails appeared to access areas of the eastern town as they were populated. They remain as convenient walking trails to locals and a vexing challenge to those working on redlining. These trails do access a lot of beautiful and interesting local features and on occasion have the "big view" like Lookout Ledge but are far more likely of interest to those who want to get away from the crowds and want to see nature up close.

    These days accommodations in Randolph are far less available, there are a few Air BNBs, a older set of tourist cabins in the western part of town and a older small "hotel" at the junction of RT2 and Randolph Hill road. Dartmouth Outing Club has Billings lodge which may be available on occasion. The locals still use the trails and RMC has various social activities all summer but in general these trails get far less use and in general the population of the town is definitely fitting in with the statistical trend on Northern NH which is old and getting older.

    One of the local trails, Ledge Trail,that apparently was quite popular with the Ravine House guests was the trail from the Ravine House to Lookout Ledge, It was deservedly so as its a well graded but somewhat steep old road for the majority of the route once it gets past what I believe are newer relocations to keep it off some of the fragmented parcels of the old Ravine House property. I can speculate that it may have been a carriage road for much of its length until the last short climb up to into the softwoods and Lookout Ledge. The trail is still used to access Lookout Ledge but it appears that the Pasture Path from the end of Randolph Hill road is far more popular as the elevation gain is far less. The Ledge trail runs through what was once a very impressive mature northern hardwood stand that was severely damaged by the ice storm of 1998, many of the older trees still stand as stark reminders of what once was and new growth has moved in, unfortunately that means a very closed canopy. As the trail starts to get a bit steeper it crosses over the east boundary of my lot and then cuts across a corner of the property and eventually diverges out of it to a trail junction before rambling along the shared Randolph Town forest Boundary. I expect more than few hikers get confused by the two different blaze colors used along this section and possibly a few keep following the blue town forest property boundary blazes instead of the trail blazes that head up slope. It unfortunately doesn't have any Lookout Ledge views in the summer but in the winter with the leaves down it does have many impressive views into Kings Ravine and some similar panoramic views south.

    Worth checking out if you have some spare time one day. Lookout Ledge is great short winter hike although the Pasture Path approach is generally broken out more often. I personally usually like to take a trail up and just head down slope through the hardwoods and break trail down to the road and walk back to the trailhead.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 06-19-2017 at 08:18 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Grey J's Avatar
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    Great history lesson. The view from Lookout Ledge is indeed excellent. I enjoyed doing the loop over Randolph and Crescent.
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    Last edited by Grey J; 06-19-2017 at 10:45 AM. Reason: add photos
    "I am a pilgrim and a stranger"

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    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Great info thanks for sharing. Always have and always will admire the RMC's overall mentality. If the AMC was the same the whole WMNF would be all the better for it IMO. There was a book written about 20 years ago or so by a female author from Randolph about Women's involvement in the development of hiking. Not sure if it was specifically about the Randolph area or not but wanted to find it as it was supposedly a good read.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  4. #4
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skiguy View Post
    Great info thanks for sharing. Always have and always will admire the RMC's overall mentality. If the AMC was the same the whole WMNF would be all the better for it IMO. There was a book written about 20 years ago or so by a female author from Randolph about Women's involvement in the development of hiking. Not sure if it was specifically about the Randolph area or not but wanted to find it as it was supposedly a good read.
    Here we go.https://www.amazon.com/Mountain-Summ.../dp/0964880105
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

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    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    It's not really in the cards, but I've often thought of buying the old Bowman's Base Camp. I bet it would make a great climbers base and attract a lot of hikers. That whole area is a gem.

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    Given how long the base camp has been abandoned I don't expect much of it is salvageable. RMC looked at it at one point for the crew camp and an initial engineering evaluation indicated that it was serious need of work over 10 years ago. The club was going to buy the property and sell a portion of it to protect Lowes Path. At the time someone mentioned that the owner (or his representative) wanted a very significant price. Unfortunately Nowell and Durand ridge in the fore ground tend to block the Madison and Adams views from down low once you near Lowes. The latest (of many)owners of the Mt Jefferson View cabins had some plans to support hikers including a possible a hostel and shuttle but it doesn't appear to have gone anywhere. Of late it seems to be overflow for the ATV crowd when the accommodations in Gorham are full up. Randolph does not allow ATVs on the Presidential Range trail (Old B&M railroad bed) much to the consternation of the ATV clubs in towns to the east and west of Randolph. Realistically Randolph has few services and is "dry town" so most hikers would prefer to stay in Gorham where all those services are close by.

    I was lucky and managed to get in what I think was a "lull" in the Randolph market but generally properties get sold quite quickly in Randolph if they are on the east side of town (effectively east of Lowes Store) and have a view of the summits. There are also a few altruistic Randolph land owners that will buy large properties when they come to market and donate them over to the Randolph town forest plus the town forest on occasion will buy key properties (they recently bought some on the Pond of Safety side of the ridge in Jefferson). The towns master plan is to prevent any further development of new roads and limit development on existing roads to keep the town as predominately a summer colony with few services. There has been few properties that have been held in one family for many years that have come to market over the last few years as the later generations have lost interest in paying the taxes and upkeep of these properties.

  7. #7
    Senior Member TCD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sierra View Post
    It's not really in the cards, but I've often thought of buying the old Bowman's Base Camp. I bet it would make a great climbers base and attract a lot of hikers. That whole area is a gem.
    Stayed at Bowman's, once, in about 1985. The very old gentleman who ran it was still running it then; a classic experience. Sierra, maybe you could become the "very old gentleman" for the next generation!

  8. #8
    Senior Member CaptCaper's Avatar
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    I've hiked that trail up to Mt Randolph.. also snowmachined the Ledge trail/road many times crossing that steep trail. Not used in the winter that I ever saw. One of the great trails to get away from the crowded 4K trails.

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    Last edited by CaptCaper; 06-20-2017 at 04:41 AM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TCD View Post
    Stayed at Bowman's, once, in about 1985. The very old gentleman who ran it was still running it then; a classic experience. Sierra, maybe you could become the "very old gentleman" for the next generation!
    I was there around the same time frame. I'm not that old yet.

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