A Scenic Tour of the Mount Washington Valley

A quick trip into North Conway on one of my days off last weekend turned into an impromptu first-time visit to two of the area's most popular attractions.  I'm a little ashamed that, despite giving many a White Mountain visitor directions to both Cathedral Ledge and Diana's Baths from here at the Pinkham front desk, it was not until two days ago that I visited the sites myself.  So, to redeem myself from a long overdue trip to these beautiful locations, I've decided to share my experience with you all - and maybe encourage a few of you to check these sites out for yourselves!

Cathedral Ledge from West Side Road 6.10.13
Both Cathedral Ledge and Diana's Baths are located off of West Side Road in North Conway.  Turn right off of Main Street just north of the Eastern Slope Inn on to River Road, which runs west across the Saco River.  After one mile, continue straight as River Road becomes West Side Road.  Cathedral Ledge Road will be on the left in 0.5 miles and the entrance to Diana's Baths one mile farther down, also on the left.
View from Cathedral Ledge 6.10.13

There are several trails that lead up to Cathedral Ledge as well as a road for driving up.  Views from the top look out over the Moat Range and Attitash Ridge.  Cathedral Ledge not only provides excellent views for hikers and tourists, but popular routes for rock climbing as well, necessitating cautionary signs like the one in the photo to the right.

Moat Mountain Trail to Diana's Baths 6.10.13
Back in my car and ready for the next stop on my spontaneous tour of the Mount Washington Valley I drove down to the northern terminus of the Moat Mountain Trail to explore Diana's Baths, a series of scenic cascades where Lucy Brook runs over ledges and through large potholes.  The trail is a short, 0.6-mile wide, graded, handicapped-accessible path that descends slightly from the trailhead before turning left and winding through coniferous woods before reaching the Baths.  Benches and natural seats, like the carved stump in the photo to the left, provide opportunities to rest and enjoy the scenery on the way to the pools.  While the weather on the day of my visit was cool and damp, Diana's Baths are a popular location for swimming on warmer days.

Diana's Baths 6.10.13

Diana's Baths 6.10.13
I ended my scenic tour of the valley with a drive-by of the covered bridge in Jackson, a beautiful red, wooden bridge over the Ellis River. 
Jackson Covered Bridge 6.10.13
While the weather forecast for the next few days and into the weekend is looking rather rainy, short excursions to locations such as Cathedral Ledge, Diana's Baths and the covered bridge in Jackson provide exciting destinations with only minimal exposure to the elements.  Before heading out on any day or overnight trip, it is always a good idea to check the local weather forecast.  The Mount Washington Observatory (http://www.mountwashington.org) provides a daily weather summary for both valley and summit conditions.

**For anyone looking to summit Mt. Washington, please be aware that a section of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail from "Lunch Rocks" to the intersection with the Alpine Garden Trail at the top of the Headwall is now CLOSED to all use, including skiing, snowboarding and hiking.  This annual closure is due to the crevasses, waterfall holes, falling ice and undermined snow that create serious hazards this time of year.  Hiking to the summit of Mount Washington from the Tuckerman Ravine trail will require cutting over to the Lion Head summer route prior to reaching the Hermit Lake Shelter and the base of the ravine.
For any general questions, conditions information, or trail advice, please feel free to contact us here at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center front desk.  We are available by phone at (603) 466-2721 every day from 6:30 AM to 10:00 PM or by email at amcpinkhaminfo@outdoors.org.

Happy trails!

Backcountry Information Specialist
AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center
(603) 466-8116

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