View Full Version : North and South Baldface Loop Question

06-15-2014, 07:57 PM
So this has been on my to-do list for years. Now that I have finished the 48 4,000 footers, this is priority #1 for this season and probably my next hike. But I have 2 particular questions for people who have hiked this before...

#1. What is the difference between the trails that run parallel to each other on the north side of this loop... staying on Baldface Circle Trail compared to Bicknell Ridge Trail? Baldface Circle Trail runs more north on the outer side and goes towards Eagle Crag? Is that the recommended route to complete this loop? Or is Bicknell Ridge possibly more interesting without Eagle Crag? I would like to know the pros and cons between those 2 trails. Both seem about the same length.

#2. On the south side, is it worth the extra side trip and 0.4 miles to hit Chandler Gorge? I am thinking yes, but would like to hear others opinions of it.

Actually one last question... what is the best way to do this loop. For some reason and maybe in prior readings, I was planning on going left at Emerald Pool to peak South Baldface first and then continue up to peak North? Any pros and cons of which direction for the route around?

Thanks! ... very excited to eventually do this hike and will wait for the perfect pristine weather day for it.

06-15-2014, 08:06 PM
i'm a frequent flyer. bicknell > b.f.c., chandler gorge if you have time, sure. if low on time, not a big deal to miss. check out emerald pool, tho.

*clock-wise for this loop if going up ledges on s.b.f. if doing a counter clock loop best to go down slippery brook tr esp. if trails are wet. your 1st time, take a purdy day and go counter clock so you are going up ledges on s.b.f., good times.

06-15-2014, 08:43 PM
On the north side, I don't find a lot of difference between the two routes. On the south side, Slippery Brook Trail is an alternative to the hike up over the ledges. The ledges on SBF are not something to do on a wet day. Most do the loop clockwise. I would not recommend descending the SBF ledges, if you do want to go CCW for some reason take Slippery Brook down.

06-15-2014, 11:05 PM
1) It's a nice above-treeline ridge to Eagle Crag, may as well maximize the ridge time, and from there the NBFCL is the most direct way down.

2) the side trip to Chandler Gorge is short and doesn't cost you any significant elevation. Not a must-see, but a may-as-well since you're nearby and it's not worth a separate trip to go back and see it.

3) Clockwise is better: the South Baldface ledges are best done in the morning when it's cool, and are easier going up than coming down. The ledges are the signature feature of this hike, and should not be missed (unless icy or otherwise unsafe).

06-30-2014, 08:14 AM
Bicknell has more views, but the Circle trail comes out closer to Eagle Crag.
Go clockwise, up the ledges on South.

06-30-2014, 09:45 AM
I think this is one of the great hikes in the East, so enjoy! Clockwise worked for me, as it was fun going up the South's ledges. They might be less enjoyable descending. Chandler Gorge was underwhelming, but still interesting. Bicknell Ridge was a nice descent route. I chose it based on some locals' advice, who said it was more interesting and had more views, and was happy with the choice. Swimming in the Emerald Pool at the end of your hike is a must.

07-01-2014, 06:21 AM
I like clockwise, and while the ledges on South are pretty awesome, having done them I now prefer to go up the Slippery Brook trail and approach Baldface Knob from the side, it's a nice trail and a beautiful area. Coming down, Bicknell Ridge is a *lot* easier than BFC, which drops super steep with lousy footing.

07-01-2014, 07:50 AM
This was a fantastic hike, a real top-ten fer sure!

We did it as part of a backpack that began at East Royce, which meant we came down the South ledges. While I agree with everything above, here's one data point for it having been possible and only subjectively scary on the very dry and beautiful day in question, under a moderately full summer pack-load. Nonetheless, I would definitely do it the recommended CCW method if going again as a day-hike. Really fantastic up there!

Have a great time,


07-20-2014, 07:57 AM
Did this hike yesterday and it lives up to its billing as a fantastic walk! Tons of open ledges with seemingly endless views, blueberry and azalea bushes everywhere and the footing is actually very comfortable in most places (i.e. not many rocks or roots and few wet areas). I did the recommended clockwise loop up to the South and descended Bicknell Ridge Trail. I personally found the ledges on South Baldface to not be a big deal but it was dry except for one short section toward the bottom (which was quite slick and awkward). I'd have no issue going up or down this way if it is dry. The last 1/4 mile or so of the cone of North Baldface on both sides had the most awkward footing, steepest grades and worst ledge scrambles in my opinion but certainly nothing crazy. I'd avoid this entire loop on a wet day. Way too much ledge and a lot of it, with the exception of Bicknell Ridge, does not have much texture to it so even the shallower slopes would be slick.