Hiking in the Shoulder Season!

Fantastic view of the Gulf of Slides and Mount Washington
Here in the Mount Washington Valley we call November the "No" month. No sun, no leaves, no people, no work. If you're lucky, you'll find a day that has a little bit of sun and warmth. Last Monday my trusty housemate and I found one of those rare November days where there was a bountiful amount of sun and the trails were silent, except for the wind. That days adventure brought us to the Hall's Ledge Trail to the Hutmens Trail. A 7 mile excursion that would be for a perfect afternoon jaunt through one of my favorite sections of the Whites.

The Hall's Ledge Trail starts on the eastern side of Route 16 (about 4 miles south of the Joe Dodge Lodge) across the street from the Rocky Branch parking lot. Look down the embankment on the southern end of a bridge and you will find the little trailhead sign there. Start off by meandering through a nice flat section crossing a clearing at.3 miles following faint yellow blazes and blue tape up higher (from the loggers I assume), then it's time to work your gluteus maximus! The trail climbs steeply with little relief for the next 1.3 miles gaining 1,450ft. It being November and all the leaves have fallen from the trees so you will find yourself swimming through the leaves on the trail, but with some incredibly rewarding views!
Note: This area has active logging year round. Be aware and follow the trail with care.

Windy but a beautiful November day

Once you have made it through the steep but pretty section of hardwoods you enter a brief Boreal forest with lots of reindeer lichen. The trail levels out and tops out at a picnic table overlooking a fantastic view of Mt. Washington. From here to Carter Notch Rd. the trail becomes a part of the Jackson Ski Touring Foundation on the Wildcat Valley trail. The original Hall's Ledge trail has been fully overgrown. In the non winter months you can walk these trails but in the winter time you will need to acquire a day pass from their office if you would like to continue on. If you do decide to continue on, you will awarded with fantastic views within the Prospect Farm property. There are lots of old cabins that you can find in the woods, plenty of moose and lots of other areas to explore.

Prospect Farm property

Just pass the Jackson xc parking lot (free to park) the Hutmens Trail  leaves on the right. It follows old logging roads for a while and then connects with the Dana Place xc ski trail on another forest road. All these junctions do merit a quit look over a hiking map next to the ski maps that are nailed to the trees just to double check that you're not going to walk in a giant circle. The trail continues at an easy grade in total for about 2 miles. You will then get to a junction where the Dana Place ski trail splits right and the narrow hiking trail goes straight. The trail steepens with loose footing going directly down back to rt. 16. Take caution if the trail is covered in leaves or snow as you can not see what is underneath. The trail ends at a beautiful log home on the east side of rt 16 where you can walk, bike or drive back to the beginning to grab your car.

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 9:00 PM or by email at amcpinkhaminfo@outdoors.org. To make reservations at AMC Lodges and Huts, please call (603)466-2727 available Monday through Saturday 9am-5pm. Be sure to check weather conditions before you come and call us here with any questions! We'll see you up here!  

Happy hiking and don't forget to look up from your feet,
Backcountry Information Specialist

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