Friday, July 18, 2014

Advice: Breakneck Ridge Hiking Tips From Trail Stewards On The Ridge | Cold Spring, NY | Hudson Highlands and Hudson Valley

Planning a hike at the Hudson Valley's Breakneck Ridge? The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference Trail Stewards at Breakneck Ridge can get you off to a fun, safe adventure! Find out their top tips on where to go, what to bring, and what to expect from this rocky crag of the Hudson Highlands in this video produced for the Trail Conference by Krysti Sabins of Unboring Exploring, one of Adventures in the Outdoors Contributors.

And if you're looking for a great overview of the hike, here's Krysti's guide to hiking Breakneck Ridge from Unboring Exploring.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hiking: Unboring Exploring: Bonticou Crag in Mohonk Preserve, NY | Shawangunk Mountains

Many thanks to Krysti Sabins of Unboring Exploring, our newest contributor to Adventures in the Outdoors! 

Did somebody ask for a hearty helpin' of rock scramble?  Well, ORDER UP!  During this hike in Mohonk Preserve outside of New Paltz, NY, we venture up the giant talus fragments of Bonticou Crag.

This 3.5 mile loop hike begins at the Spring Farm trailhead off Upper 27 Knolls Road (GPS 41.794616, -74.128513).  This small parking lot fills VERY early on peak summer (and fall) weekends, so arrive early and consider carpooling to ensure a parking space.

Once you have parked and paid the well-worth $12 entry fee, you'll begin following signs for the "Crag Trail".  This path leads you over field and forest toward "Bonticou Road" an easily trekked carriageway.  From here you'll find the yellow-blazed "Bonticou Ascent Path" where your rock scramble awaits!

Be sure to have a craving for climbing as well as proper footwear before attempting this ascent.  Once you begin scaling Bonticou's giant chunks of white Shawangunk conglomerate and avoiding tumbling into its yawning fissures, you'll find yourself wondering how this could possibly be the trail!  Oh, but it is, and how.

This distinctive trek culminates with a 360° view encompassing the Catskill Mountains and beyond and is loaded with one-of-a-kind perspectives.  Definitely worth shinnying up such a precarious precipice! 

So what are you waiting for?  Go get your clamberin' on!
For more information on this hike as well as other Unboring Exploring adventures with Krysti, visit
See you on the trail!

If you're looking for maps and guidebooks for planning your adventures in the Shawangunks, the Trail Conference publishes the Shawangunk Trails Map and the book, Scenes and Walks in the Northern Shawangunks is a guide to trails of the northern Shawangunk Ridge area, as is Gunks Trails: A Rangers Guide and the Shawangunks Trail Companion.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Guide: Hiking in New York State's Catskill Mountains

Looking to take a hike in New York's Catskills?

The Catskill Park, at the heart of the Catskill Mountain region contains over 300,000 acres of public lands owned by New York State and part of the Forever Wild Forest Preserve of the state that are open to the public for hiking, fishing, camping, and hunting.  There are plenty of hiking options and plenty of things to consider with all of the options that the Catskills have to offer. If you would like, there are hikes that will only last a few hours and for the more adventurous, there are multi-day hikes that will take you across some really rugged and wild, yet beautiful terrain that is only a few hours north of New York City.

The Catskills

The Catskill Mountains, which are located within the Catskill Park, are about 50 miles southwest of Albany and around 150 miles north of New York City. The Hudson River and the Hudson River Valley run just to the east of the mountains and in the west, the Catskill Mountains taper out into rolling hills.

The highest peak in the Catskills is Slide Mountain at 4,204 feet. Slide is located in the Southern Catskill Mountains along with several other tall peaks (Wittenberg and Cornell) that make up the High Peaks of the Catskills.  In addition to that area though, there are a number of high peaks and rugged terrain in the northeastern portion of the Catskill Mountains.  To the southwest near Route 17 and the towns of Liberty, Livingston Manor and Roscoe, the Catskills are lower in elevation, there are more ponds and wetlands and the hiking is generally more family friendly.

The Catskill Park

The Catskill Park was created in 1885 to protect New York City’s water supplies (many of the city’s reservoirs are in the Catskills with underground aqueducts running water southward to the city), and to provide outdoor recreational activities for the public. All public lands in the park are protected by the “Forever Wild” clause in the State constitution:

"The lands of the state, now owned or hereafter acquired, constituting the forest preserve as now fixed by law, shall be forever kept as wild forest lands. They shall not be leased, sold or exchanged, or be taken by any corporation, public or private, nor shall the timber thereon be sold, removed or destroyed . . ."

About half of the Catskill Park is publicly owned, the other half is privately owned, thus like the Adirondack Park, the Catskills are one of the few “parks” that is a mix of private and public lands.

There is more about the Catskill Park on our sister site, ReviewThis.

History of the Catskills

The history of the Catskills is in many ways the history of Wilderness in America.  The Catskills are known as America's First Wilderness, first as the imposing mountains above the valley where colonists settled, then as an escape for the city dwellers with massive and spectacular hotels and railroads, a place that led to the birth of America's first school of landscape painting, a place that helped launch the conservation movement and to today where the Catskill Park protects some truly wild areas just hours from New York City's doorstep.

Planning your hiking trip to the Catskills

The first thing to consider when you are planning a hiking trip to the Catskill Mountains is what kind of hikes you are interested in. Do you want to do a series of day hikes and you'll stay at a hotel or motel in one of the local towns? Do you want to do a multi-day backpacking trip where you'll be camping in the woods?  Either choice gives you plenty of options. The vast majority of the Catskills Mountains' trails can be accessed via day hikes, while the overnight backpacking trips tend to link together trails and mountains into a multi-day trip.

The best way to start planning your trips is to take a look at the Trail Conference's Catskill Trails 6-map set. This is the definitive map set to the Catskills and provides map coverage for all of the hiking trails within the Catskill Park.  As a bonus, the maps also feature trail descriptions for all the official, maintained trails in the Catskills on their backs. This makes them indispensable for trip planning and for guiding you when you are out on the trail and mean that you don't need to invest in both the map set and one of the guidebooks for the region if you feel comfortable enough with the map descriptions alone.  If you feel you need a guidebook, AMC's Catskill Mountain Guide and ADK's Catskill Trails are both well written and useful guidebooks for Catskill Trails.

If you are planning on doing day trips, most of the Catskills are available to you to explore. You should stay in a hotel or a motel in one of the mountain towns such as Hunter, Tannersville, Windham, Phoenicia, Woodstock, Big Indian, Pine Hill, Margaretville, Roscoe or Livingston Manor. This will give you quick access to the Park, the mountains and the trails that surround them. Most of these towns have plenty of lodging options. There are also state run, public campgrounds located near Tannersville (North-South Lake Campground and Devil's Tombstone Campground), Phoenicia (Woodland Valley Campground), Woodstock (Kenneth Wilson Campground), and Livingston Manor (Mongaup Pond Campground and Little Pond Campground).  In addition, all of the major peaks and trails are accessible from these towns with only a short drive in most cases.

There are four major transportation corridors in the park.  The most southerly is Route 17, which leaves the New York State Thruway in Harriman and then travels past the southwestern Catskills.  Route 17 provides access to Liberty, Livingston Manor and Roscoe.  There are numerous trails in this area and a number of smaller mountains to explore with some great views.  There are also a number of ponds, some of which have some great swimming areas, like Trout Pond.  Moving towards the north, Route 28 leaves the NYS Thruway in Kingston and travels westward into the heart of the Catskills, passing several villages including Shokan, Boiceville, Mount Tremper, Phoenicia, Big Indian and Arkville and Margaretville.  This route provides access to the trailheads of the Catskill High Peaks, in addition to several other destinations.  Further north, Route 23a, accessible from the Saugerties or Catskill exits of the NYS Thruway provides access to the center of the northeastern Catskills, including the North and South Lake Campground area and the Devil's Path.  Furthest north is Route 23, which intersects with the NYS Thruway at Catskill and provides access to the northernmost portion of the Park, including the village of Windham and the northern Escarpment Trail.  Traveling north to south, Route 30 connects most of these routes in the far western Catskill Mountains and Route 214 provides a connection between Route 28 and Route 23a.

Some great day hikes include the trails on the various mountains of the Devil's Path Range. These mountains are located in the northeastern portion of the park and all have maintained hiking trails over them. The mountains (Indian Head, Twin, Sugarloaf, Plateau, Hunter and Westkill) offer a number of different trips and depending on the location, offer the potential to make loop trips so you don't need to backtrack what you've already hiked. Further to the north the Blackhead Range near the Town of Windham offers some rugged climbing and some great views northward to Albany and beyond. In the south, the Catskill Mountains tallest peak, Slide Mountain is a great day trip, as are Wittenberg and Cornell, the two other mountains that with Slide make up the High Peaks of the Catskills.

If you aren't looking so much for mountain climbing and instead just want some great scenery, there are several trails that offer this. The Escarpment Trail, running along the eastern edge of the Catskill Mountains doesn't climb or descend too much, but it offers stunning views across the Hudson Valley almost constantly. The Dutcher Notch Trail offers a walk through mostly levels woods to some stunning fields and a quiet, wilderness notch. Trails in the more western parts of the Catskills are also gentler, as the mountains out there are more rolling and generally lower than they are in the east. The trail and hike up to the base of Kaaterskill Falls is short, though it is a bit rugged. However, you are rewarded with a view of the highest waterfall in New York State when you reach the end of the trail.  In the south, a loop hike around Frick Pond is a great afternoon trip for a family and the Little Pond Trail offers amazing views of the Beaverkill Valley.  Trout Pond, near Roscoe has two lean-tos for camping, a sandy swimming beach and a family friendly hike to reach the site.

The five restored Fire Towers of the Catskill Park also make excellent destinations.  The towers, which originally had been used to observe and position forest fires, today are staffed on summer weekends by volunteers to provide interpretive services for visitors.  The towers all offer 360-degree views of their areas and are one of a kind destinations.  There are towers located on Hunter Mountain, Overlook Mountain, Mount Tremper, Balsam Lake Mountain and on Red Hill.  There is even an annual Fire Tower Passport program where you can earn a badge and get entered into a raffle for outdoor gear by climbing the Fire Towers.

If you are planning on an overnight or longer backpacking trip, several other options open up. The Trail Conference's Long Path travels through the Catskills and you can follow this trail through the area.  In the Catskills, the Long Path travels from Wawarsing in the south to Windham in the north, a distance of almost 100 miles with very few roadwalks.  There are also longer trail sections within the park that you can string together to create multi-day trips.

One of the premiere hikes is the Devil's Path. This is a famous route that starts in Spruceton Valley and travels over Westkill Mountain, Hunter Mountain, Plateau Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, Twin Mountain and Indian Head Mountain. You gain and lose thousands of vertical feet over 26 miles of this trail. Another option is a hike from Mount Tremper in the south to Warner Creek and then up to the summit of Plateau Mountain where you join the Devil's Path. If you continue eastward to the Devil's Path terminus, you are looking at an almost 25 mile hike where you don't cross any roadways. That makes it the longest roadless section of trail in the Catskills and probably one of the longest roadless sections of trail in New York.

If you are planning on camping within the Catskill Park, there are some regulations to consider. On State owned, public lands, you are allowed to camp anywhere below 3,500 feet during the summer months so long as you are at least 150 feet away from any roadway, parking lot, open water or trail. In the winter months, the rules are the same, except that you are allowed to camp above 3,500 feet so long as there is snow on the ground.  For the 30 lean-tos of the Catskill Park within the Forest Preserve, these backcountry camping shelters are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Each lean-to can generally hold about 8-10 people.  Location really determines the popularity of lean-tos, but you should not expect to find them available on most weekends unless you arrive early.  During the week, many of them are available.

Mountain Conditions

While the weather in the Catskill Mountains isn't as variable as other, higher mountain ranges, in the northeast, the weather can change quickly and is often quite different from the weather in the Hudson Valley at lower elevations.  You can get local information from Hudson Valley Weather and more generalized weather conditions from the National Weather Service.

In the Spring and the Fall the Catskills will often experience wintry weather when its only raining in the valleys. In addition, the summits of the mountains are often much colder than the valleys, especially in the winter months. Winds can be strong any time of the year. In the summertime the differences generally aren't as distinct, though the summit areas are usually cooler than the valleys.

The mountains can get a lot of snow, especially in the higher elevations. If you are planning on wintertime hikes, you should be prepared for full winter conditions and have snowshoes and crampons with you. You should also have plenty of warm clothes.

In the summertime unexpected thunderstorms can roll through the mountains. They can be dangerous along the summits, where the potential for lightening strikes is very real. They can also soak you, so it's always a good idea to carry at least some amount of extra clothing with you.

The Trail Conference maintains a Trail Conditions page that is updated weekly.  This page provides information and the status of all hiking trails within the Catskill Park and is a useful resource for those visiting the region and wanting to go on a hike.  It is always best to check the conditions before you head out and have the latest news and information in hand.

Hiking Experiences

For what some would consider being "little" mountains, the Catskills are surprisingly rugged. The trails on the mountains tend to either be steep or very steep and the geology of the Catskills means that there are often ledges and cliffs that must be climbed up and over to get to the summit of the mountains. This can be a challenge in the summertime and in the wintertime you often need crampons and ice axes to make it as ice forms over these ledges.

People shouldn't take hiking in the Catskills lightly. They are tough mountains and are home to some of the most rugged hiking trails around. The Devil's Path is considered by many to be one of the roughest hiking trails in the east and has been featured as such in Backpacker Magazine.

Accidents can and do happen. Every year people hurt themselves or get lost in the woods and must be found and rescued by the Ranger staff that patrols the mountains. The best way to avoid these problems is to prepare. Plan out your hikes, plan on taking the right gear and when you are out on the trail, avoid situations where your hiking party could get lost or seriously injure itself.

Get Out There!

The Catskills are a unique and interesting natural area that has been protected by New York State as Forest Preserve in the Catskill Park. While the Catskill Mountains are not as high or as imposing as some other mountain ranges, they do have some tough trails and a charm that is all their own.  I've always found that the Catskills are well worth exploring.

So go out and get yourself the map, plan out your hike and get into the Catskills to start exploring!

A great first step is our Catskill Mountains Information Page, which links to articles, guides, stories and hike descriptions for trails throughout the Catskill Mountains.

If you need help with getting ready for your first hike, check out our Hiking 101 post.  We provide all the basic information you'll need to get out and enjoy your first hike.

Need More Information on Hiking and  Planning your 
Adventures in the Catskill Mountains and the Catskill Park?

Catskill TrailsRead up on the Catskill Park at our Catskill Mountains Information Page for hikes, advice, travel and planning information.  Need a hiking map for your hikes in the Catskills?  We recommend the Trail Conference's Catskills Trails 6-Map Set.  These maps are the best available for hiking and outdoor adventures in the Catskills and the Catskill Park.  How about a guidebook?  Both AMC and ADK publish trail guides to the Catskill Region and thAdventures in the Outdoors Bookstore carries many more books and maps for hiking and exploring the Catskill Mountain region.

AMC Catskill Mountain Guide, 2nd: AMC's Comprehensive Guide to Hiking Trails in the Catskills (Appalachian Mountain Club)   

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Hiking: Catskills Frick Pond Loop via Quick Lake, Big Rock and Loggers Loop Trails | Southwestern Catskill Mountains, NY

Frick Pond is located in the southwestern Catskills within the Willowemoc Wild Forest, just west of the the Mongaup Pond State Campground area. Access to the pond and the trails in the area is provided by the Beech Mountain Road parking area that serves as a trailhead for both the Quick Lake Trail and the Flynn Trail.

The Frick Pond loop hike, completed by traveling on the Quick Lake Trail, the Big Rock Trail and the Loggers Loop Trail is an easy, pleasant 2.2 mile (round trip) hike.  Along the way you cross the outlet of Frick Pond where there are great views of the pond and the surrounding mountains, walk through a large hemlock grove, follow an extensive boardwalk through a swampy area, cross the two major inlets to Frick Pond and then make your way back through open woods and fields of ferns.

Getting There - Quick Lake and Flynn Trail Trailhead

The Quick Lake/Flynn Trail Trailhead is located near the end of Beech Mountain Road.  To reach the trailhead, follow Debruce Road east from Livingston Manor (Exit 96 on Route 17) for just under 6 miles (5.8) to the intersection with Mongaup Road.  Turn left onto Mongaup Road and follow it for about 2.7 miles to its intersection with Beech Mountain Road.  Bear to the left onto Beech Mountain Road, which quickly become a dirt road.  Follow Beech Mountain Road for about a third of a mile and the trailhead parking area will be located on your left just after the road climbs up a hill.  The road ends just above this point at a private residence.

While the Flynn Trail heads northward from the east side of Beech Mountain Road (eventually making its way to Hodge Pond) across the street from the trailhead parking area, the Quick Lake Trail starts at the northwestern corner of the trailhead parking area and travels westward towards Frick Pond.  The trail's start is not signed, but it descends from the northwestern corner on several wooden steps and then begins makings its way through the forest.

The trails in this area are shown on the Trail Conference's Western Catskill Trails map (#144), which can be purchased as part of the 6-map set on tyvek or purchased individually on your smartphone or tablet.  These trails are also shown on the National Geographic's Trails Illustrated Catskills Map.  They are described in the AMC's Catskill Mountain Guide and the ADK's Catskill Trails guidebooks.

The Hike

From the northwestern corner of the parking lot, the red marked Quick Lake Trail descends on several log steps and then travels, on a mostly level route through the open hardwood forest.  In about a tenth of a mile (0.10 miles), the trail intersects with an old road that used to provide access to Frick Pond.  There is a DEC sign-in booth at this intersection (make sure to sign in) and the trail turns left and follows the road from this point to the trail's intersection with the Loggers Loop Trail.  The old road is wet in several places, especially during the spring.  The road is generally level with a few dips and climbs past streams and drainages.  At just under a half of a mile (0.45 miles), the Quick Lake Trail intersects with the yellow marked Loggers Loop Trail.  The intersection is located within an old field that can become overgrown and be poorly signed.  Be sure to stay to the left at the intersection, on the Quick Lake Trail.

The Quick Lake Trail passes through another muddy area just past the trail junction and then begins descending to shoreline and outlet of Frick Pond at about 0.55 miles from the trailhead (and about a tenth of a mile from the intersection with the Loggers Loop Trail).  The bridge and the small open field adjacent to it make for a great stop to enjoy the view of Frick Pond and watch the wildlife who live there.  The dam on Frick Pond was removed (or destroyed) many years ago so the actual water body is quite small during most of the season, but due to high spring water, the pond has remained an open meadow and provides habitat for a number of wildlife species, including a number of different birds.

After crossing the outlet of Frick Pond on a bridge, the trail generally follows the shoreline of Frick Pond, but back from the edge.  The trail has a few minor wet areas and is generally level as it heads towards the intersection with the Big Rock Trail.  At this trail junction, the Quick Lake Trail turns westward, eventually reaching Quick Lake and the Quick Lake Lean-to and the Big Rock Trail continues to follow the shoreline of Frick Pond.  At this point, make sure to stay to the right and follow the yellow marked Big Rock Trail.

The Big Rock Trail generally follows the shoreline of Frick Pond and near the northwestern corner of the pond, the trail enters into a thick hemlock tree grove.  At this point to avoid several boggy and swampy areas, the trail travels for quite a distance on a large boardwalk through the forest.  The only caution here is that if you are hiking in wet weather, the boards of the boardwalk can be quite slippery and you should take your time.  Following the boardwalk, the trail continues through the hemlocks and then comes to the two major inlets of Frick Pond, crossing both on small bridges in an semi-open meadow area.  From the stream crossings, the trail heads north, away from the shoreline of Frick Pond, continuing to follow the remnants of an old woods road.  The trail passes through several wet areas (that can either be easily crossed or there are trails around the wet area) and at 0.50 miles, the trail reaches Times Square, a four-way junction of two yellow trails. Turn sharply right onto the Loggers Loop Trail that heads south on an old woods road. (To your left the Loggers Loop Trail continues to the northwest, eventually reaching the Iron Wheel Junction with the Quick Lake Trail. Straight ahead, the Big Rock Trail, also yellow, climbs steadily to its intersection with the Flynn Trail.).

Stay to the right and head south on the Loggers Loop Trail.  This former woods road is wet in several places, but a generally dry treadway has developed to avoid the majority of the muddy areas.  This section of trail also travels through open woods and the road itself is a mix of meadow grasses and ferns (in the more shaded areas).  This plant life can grow quickly during the summer, making the trail overgrown in places at times.

From Times Square, the yellow marked Loggers Loop trail descends slightly, crossing a small stream on a washed out culvert and then begins gently ascending to the height of land after about two tenths of a mile.  Once the height of land is reached, the trail is generally level for another two tenths of a mile before beginning to descend slightly.  As views of Frick Pond begin to open up and just before the trail's intersection with the Quick Lake Trail, there is a privy to your right on a short side trail.

The trail then comes to an end at its intersection with the Quick Lake Trail at 0.55 miles.  This trail junction is the first trail junction you reached when following the Quick Lake Trail from the Beech Mountain Road trailhead parking area.  At the trail junction, turn left onto the red marked Quick Lake Trail, heading eastward towards the trailhead.  Follow this section of the Quick Lake Trail for 0.45 miles to return to the trailhead and complete your hike.

There are no difficult sections along this hike and no steep climbs or descents.  The most difficult aspects of the hike are the numerous wet areas, especially near Times Square on both the Big Rock and the Loggers Loop Trail.  If you don't mind getting your boots muddy though, this is not a problem.  Trail maintenance is picking up in the area, thanks to the Trail Conference's Willowemoc Trail Crew.  This trip is a great hike for families with children looking to spend a few hours in the woods.  It's close to the Mongaup Pond State Campground and the Town of Livingston Manor is less than 8 miles away.  In Livingston Manor there's lodging and dining options, along with Morgan Outdoors, a great outdoor clothing, shoes and gear store that's an excellent place to get ready for your adventures.  The owner of the store is a great resource to ask for information on trails, hikes and how to get involved with stewardship activities in the area.

This is one of my favorite hikes in the Catskills because it's such a pleasant and accessible walk for everyone (especially during the summer when the majority of the wet areas dry up).  With the upcoming work by the Willowemoc Trail Crew, this hike will only get better (and drier).

Need More Information on Hiking and  Planning your 
Adventures in the Catskill Mountains and the Catskill Park?

Catskill TrailsRead up on the Catskill Park at our Catskill Mountains Information Page for hikes, advice, travel and planning information.  Need a hiking map for your hikes in the Catskills?  We recommend the Trail Conference's Catskills Trails 6-Map Set.  These maps are the best available for hiking and outdoor adventures in the Catskills and the Catskill Park.  How about a guidebook?  Both AMC and ADK publish trail guides to the Catskill Region and thAdventures in the Outdoors Bookstore carries many more books and maps for hiking and exploring the Catskill Mountain region.

AMC Catskill Mountain Guide, 2nd: AMC's Comprehensive Guide to Hiking Trails in the Catskills (Appalachian Mountain Club)   

Monday, June 23, 2014

Hiking: Mount Pemigewasset (Indian Head) via Mt. Pemigewasset Trail | White Mountains, New Hampshire | 5/18/2014

Measuring just under two miles in length, the Mount Pemigewasset Trail brings you to the summit of Mount Pemigewasset (Indian Head), where there are some great views of Franconia Notch to the north, the Franconia Range to the east and southward into southern New Hampshire's Lakes Region.  The hike is not difficult and the 270+ degree view from the summit is worth the exertion of the hike.

There are two trails that reach the summit of Mount Pemigewasset, the Mount Pemigewasset Trail we followed and the Indian Trail.  Both are almost exactly the same length and the difficulty is also about the same.  If you don't mind a roadwalk of about a mile, you could make a loop out of this hike, using both of the trails.  If you were to do so, I would suggest starting at the Indian Head Trail Trailhead and leaving your car there, climbing Mount Pemigewasset, descending on the Mt. Pemigewasset Trail and then walking down Route 3 back to the Indian Head Trailhead.  On our latest trip, we began at the Mt. Pemigewasset Trailhead located at The Flume parking area and then went up and back on the Mt. Pemigewasset Trail.

The Mt. Pemigewasset Trailhead is located at the northern end of the parking lot for The Flume, just off of Route 3.  The trail follows the Franconia Notch Bike path for a short distance and then turns left.  The trail then goes beneath Route 3, crosses a small stream (the bridge was damaged and unusable at the time we hiked the trail), and goes underneath Interstate 93 before beginning to gently ascend the slope of Mount Pemigewasset.  The trail climb steadily, making broad switchbacks up the slope, while crossing several small streams and following stream channels upward.  The hike is very pleasant with the sound of running water helping to drown out the highway traffic below and the fact that the trail follows the streams in many places, makes for a scenic walk as you make your way up the mountain.  Along the way, at around 1.3 miles, the trail passes by a very large boulder and then starts to climb more steeply until it reaches the crest of the ridge.  The trail then follows the ridge crest southward until the junction with the Indian Head Trail.  At this intersection, the Mt. Pemigewasset Trail turns left and in a tenth of a mile reaches the first of the summit ledges of Mount Pemigewasset at about 1.7 miles from the trailhead.

A note of caution, these ledges are very high with a large drop off and they do sort of come upon your quickly as you make your way to the summit from the Indian Head/Mt. Pemigewasset Trail Junction.  If you have a dog with you or small children, you might want to keep them close as you make your way to the summit.  The open rocks were not slippery at all when we were there as it was dry, but it wet conditions, there is more potential for someone to slip and fall on the wet ledges.

That said, you will be well rewarded for the climb up Mount Pemigewasset at this series of rock ledges.  They rise significantly above the treeline below and offer unobstructed vistas of the country beyond.

The true summit of Mount Pemigewasset is a little further east, but the trees surrounding the true summits ledges have grown up significantly and blocked out a lot of the view.  From the summit there are some views of the Franconia Range northeast, but the major views are from the first set of open rock ledges you reach.  Those ledges offer an extensive view to the south, southwest and west, offering views down into the Lakes Region and along the Kinsman Ridge.

We ended up spending the sunny afternoon having lunch and just relaxing on the summit.  It was one of the first warm spring days and it was the kind of place that was perfect to sit back and let it all soak in.

Only downside to this hike is that it given its location and moderate difficulty, the hike is very popular with people who are visiting Franconia Notch.  Don't got on a weekend expecting to find an empty peak!

Otherwise a great hike that is not that difficult with a tremendous view.  If you just have a few hours in the Franconia Notch area, this hike is a great choice that you won't be disappointed in.

AMC White Mountain Guide, 28th: Hiking trails in the White Mountain National Forest (Appalachian Mountain Club White Mountain Guide)For more information on Hiking, Climbing and Skiing in the White Mountains
We have produced a short guide to the recreational opportunities available in Franconia Notch State Park.  If you are looking to hike, the best guide to the trails of the White Mountains is published by the Appalachian Mountain Club.  The White Mountain Trail Guide provides descriptions and maps for all of the hiking trails of the White Mountains.  AMC also produces a map for the trails in the Franconia Notch Region, as does National Geographic in their Trails Illustrated series.