Lowes Store Parking Lot not being Plowed Winter 2022-2023


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Well-known member
Dec 31, 2004
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Copied from The RMC's FB Page:

Trail Report as of December 8:
***Important Annoucement***
Lowes Store will not be plowed this winter. As such, parking at that location will not be possible once the snow is in. We will update with any developments on this matter.
Below 3,300 feet, trails are bare ground for the most part. Above 3,300 feet, hikers should expect icy conditions and microspikes are mandatory. Going downhill most hikers may feel more comfortable with crampons, even for those non alpine hikes.
At and above treeline, trails consist of ice and scoured snow. Crampons are strongly recommended.
There is currently 6” of snow at the stake.
Please note that trail conditions can change very quickly in the Northern Presidentials. The conditions posted on this page may have changed since they were recorded. Always check local forecasts before you leave the trailhead, and be sure to check out the higher summits forecast on the @mwobs webpage.
My guess is this is going to make the problem that started to pop up the winter they didnt plow it with folks trying to park along the south side of RT 2. There is room for couple of cars in the grass but once snowplowing starts, that is a bad place to park on the shoulder as there are guardrails just east of the trail head. Someone may be able to park for the day once snowbanks are up and not get towed, but those parking overnight are asking for it as DOT really takes their job seriously about keeping that stretch of RT 2 bare no matter what the weather is. Someone is now living year at the house at the end of the field at Bowman where the trailheads for the Castle Ravine, Israel Ridge and Castle trail are located, and was plowing that lot to a limited extent last year so that is an option. It's about a mile west along the rail trail which is used for a major high speed snowmobile path in the winter to where it crosses Lowes Path. The folks who bought the former Bowman Base Camp (who did a nice job cleaning up the lot), had mentioned that discussions were ongoing about trail access/parking at the current location, but putting in parking on the south side of RT 2 at this location would require a lot of work due to potential wetlands and grade issues. Alan Lowe's spouse is still alive and was at one point living above the former store this year so I suspect the long-range future of the Lowe's Store property is still up in the air.

Doing a bit of research, in old AMC guides, the original Lowes Path followed the headwaters of the Moose River down to the former Bowman railroad station until some point between 1960 and 1970 (my sixties guides are missing the Cutter maps for this area). Speculation on my part is that the relocation occurred when the new RT 2 Randolph bypass was built starting at Bowman and extending east to past Durand Road East part way up Randolph Hill Road. Prior to that major project, Durand Road was RT 2. That is the reason that most current hikers comment that there is "nothing" in Randolph. Lowes Cabins were on the old RT 2 but now ended up with a relatively prime location at the corner of Durand Road and the new RT2 so it makes sense that the trail was located closer to a commercial location with parking and access to Durand road. The former Bowman railroad station was surrounded by large inholdings on RT 2 while the WMNF stretched 2000 feet north closer to RT 2 so its logical to have rerouted it at the time. This has now changed, the inholdings south of RT 2 were subdivided with the easterly lot where the former Lowes Path was located is now owned by the Randolph Community Forest who is active host of many RMC trails. The center lot (with the growing in open field) is still private and the westerly lot is WMNF. The Castle Trail was rerouted by the RMC and WMNF west down the tracks onto the westerly lot which was purchased by a conservation group and transferred to the WMNF. The Bowman lot had not been plowed for several years as the residence (no longer visible from the lot) was seasonal. There are now year-round residents, (Alan Lowe's daughter and her spouse) that are plowing the road through the former Bowman station and appear to be plowing some parking at the former railroad station. Unlike the current terrain where the current Lowes meets Route 2 the state owns the 50 foot railroad right of way at Bowman which is flat and level with an existing curb cut onto RT 2. There was a rail siding at this location at one point and all that really needs to be done is possibly some minor grading and there is lot of parking space with little hassle. A snowmobile route run along the former railine but there is enough room for both parking and the rail trail.

There was a large WMNF inholding on the south of the current RT 2 at the time, but a big chunk of it is now owned by the Randolph Community Forest including much if not all of the former Lowes Path. There is already a new RMC maintained path from Bowman to Rollo Falls on this property that was a named feature on the Cutter map of the former trail route. The Forest Service in the past has been decidedly reticent in new trail construction but they have in past substantially realigned existing trails to connect them up to new parking lots to avoid landowner issue. My suspicion is that the former Lowes route through the RCF land does not meet best practices for new trail building as its a "fall line" trail and would require extensive hardening and drainage, but by routing it diagonally from Bowman in the NW to the SE corner, of the RCF land, the route can slab the contours prior to meeting up with the current route. Therefore, Lowes Path one of the oldest trails in the whites would return to at least some of its original route and stay on publicly controlled land.
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