Crescent Ridge Traverse

Help Support

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Super Moderator
Staff member
Sep 3, 2003
Reaction score
Gorham NH
Despite the good forecast for today, I was suspicious on how quickly the clouds would clear and if they would clear on the higher summits so I decided to wait until the morning to pick a hike. As expected, the northern presis were making their own clouds and the amount of blue sky to the east was a lot more than to the west which was pretty well a solid cloud deck. So I decided to stay a bit lower and do one of my backup hikes on the RMC trail network. The Crescent Ridge in Randolph between Mt Crescent to the East and Mt Randolph to the west is a fairly narrow ridge traversed by the Crescent Ridge trail. Its usually well maintained and the actual trail is maintained quite wide. Its all in the trees but there are viewpoints long the ridge.The nice thing with hiking the ridge is that there are a couple of trails that drop down off the ridge along the way so if the weather or motivation is not there there is usually a good out. One thing that may be new since the last time I hiked it is recent orange blazing. In the past there were a couple of spots in the winter where the open woods meant that following the trail in the winter was a challenge but now I think there is more consistent and brighter blazing to make it easier to follow. I did the loop CCW so I had the morning sun. It was windy and cold to start but once I got up a bit the trail has good cover to the west so the wind was not an issue. The sun soon came in an I took a few layers off. There are a few steep sections near the summit cone which in the winter can be challenge if there is a significant snow pack. Without snow it can be icy experience right on the edge of micro spikes capability. I soon was on the top of the ridge and stopped at the north facing viewpoint. This view is unusual as its looking out over the Black Crescent ridge and a nice view into the valley that the bog dam loop from York Pond drives around. The cloud pattern remained cloudy to the west with a few rare patches to the east. At this point I had the option to the take the Mt Crescent trail to the viewpoint and then down a very steep section back to the Crescent Ridge trail as a bail out option. I remember one year during some winter VFTT event that this trail was not broken out and the steep section was deep powder. I took the plunge and the powder was at or above my head. Luckily once we were in the woods it got shallower but we were swimming in snow for awhile with snowshoes. I guess it was the "good old days" when we had reliably winter.

The wind picked up as I headed down the ridge and then broke out onto the wide section of trail that I suspect is an old logging road network but I have never figured out where it was accessed from. My guess is from the Pond of Safety side. The trail runs over a few PUDs where I encountered my first person of the day, a trail runner with an enthusiastic standard poodle as a partner, I had plenty of room to socially distance and stepped aside when they passed. The trail then drops down to the flats near the Carlton Notch trail. This is also the start of the various ski glades built by Granite Backcountry Alliance. The footing is bit rocky and steep. The Lafayette viewpoint didnt have much view but normally gives and unexpected view of the Franconia Ridge from a distance. It also gives a view of Mt Randolph in the foreground and it definitely looks like a distinct knob on the end of the ridge. Once I was clear of the glades the end of the ridge over Mt Randolph gets gets narrower and steeper. Along the way I met the second hiker of the day and there was an open spot so I stepped aside. I was the first hiker he had seen but he had encountered a few hunters near the parking lot. Fairly soon the trail breaks into open hardwoods and soon the Four Soldiers junction is encountered. If I went straight on the Crescent Ridge trail I could go to Lookout Ledge but given the cloud deck on Madison and Adams I elected to take Four Soldiers trail. Its a nice trail through open hardwoods. Its one of RMCs newer trails and with leaves on the ground it does require some attention to follow. I encountered my last hikers of the day, a couple who were surprised any hikers were on the trail. At one point it intersects the end of an obviously well built older logging road and then veers away. soon it crosses a newer logging road which no doubt connects to the older road and at that point I decided to take a short cut. Four Soldiers trail eventually comes out on Pasture Path which ends up south of Randolph Hill Road while the parking is well north of Randolph Hill road. To get back to the parking lot requires walking along property boundaries around various homes and camps. Its not a particularly interesting stretch so I just followed the logging road east. On the RMC map this is called Knob Road, its wide with a few truck bridges in place and then its come out at the intersection with the Randolph Community Forest road which to most locals is theJimtown Logging road coming up from Gorham. This is and was the main haul road for any logging on the south side of the ridge. This road is quite wide and lined with white birches one side. I would rate it as a nice alternative to trails and it skips the developed area and saves some elevation. Soon I came out to the parking lot.

In generally I think the temps dropped as the day progressed. It was still quite cloudy to the west and as the sun progressed west it went in. Add in a cold westerly wind and it never warmed up. I headed into Berlin for a burrito at Exile Burrito, basically a locally owned Chipolte type place that hikers miss out on as they need to drive into Berlin. I would rather support a local business than a chain especially when the quality is just as good. It was decidedly sunny and warmer in the valley.

The RMC trails on the north side of RT 2 tend to be ignored by the general hiking public. There is a very dense network of local trails between Randolph Hill Road and Durand road that tend to get mostly locals and redliners but the trails on the Crescent Range are worth a visit. Due to the density of the network the length of the hike can be easily adjusted by adding or subtracting trail segments. The one caveat is have a good map. The trail signage is good but its easy in some areas to get turned around.

In general a nice hike so late in the season with no snow on the ground. Its obvious in the woods that the wood are ready for snow.
Last edited: