NewEnglandTrailConditions.com
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Hiking Trail Conditions Report
Peaks
Peaks None, NH
Trails
Trails: US 2, Lowe’s Path, The Link, Caps Ridge Trail, The Cornice, Randolph Path, Israel Ridge Path, Perch Path, Gray Knob Trail, Quay Path
Date of Hike
Date of Hike: Wednesday, August 5, 2020
Parking/Access Road Notes
Parking/Access Road Notes: Parking is not allowed at the trailhead for Lowe’s Path as is indicated on a sign. The vast majority of people park at Lowe’s store across the street. You are asked to go in and pay a buck or two to park there for the day. The weren’t open at 5:45am so I parked at a grassy spot (snowmobile exit in winter?) about 0.3mi east on the south side of Route 2. Nobody seemed to mind and I was the only one there when I arrived and left at. On my drive in Appalachia was empty...that’s only happened a few times!  
Surface Conditions
Surface Conditions: Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Standing/Running Water on Trail, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant 
Recommended Equipment
Recommended Equipment:  
Water Crossing Notes
Water Crossing Notes: I was concerned about water crossings after the storm on Tuesday but we didn’t get ALL that much rain and water levels didn’t seem to be much affected...yet. Furthermore, most of my potentially difficult crossings would be at elevation where water would go back to normal levels fastest. Sure enough, the crossings were fine. Everything was rock hoppable although the hardest were a bit tricky and I may have unintentionally gotten one trail runner wet. The hardest was the crossing of Cascade Brook on The Link. Although not very large or deep this could be very dangerous at high water as there’s a ledge very close by. The crossing of Cascade Brook on Perch Path is easier. The crossings of Castle Brook and Mystic Stream (both on the Link) were not a problem.  
Trail Maintenance Notes
Trail Maintenance Notes: There were a number of blowdowns on The Link once past Cabin-Cascades Trail but nothing too difficult or numerous as to be a real pain. The first was a mid-sized pine blowdown between a 1/2mi and 3/4mi up The Link from the Cabin-Cascades jct. Another mid-sized blowdown maybe a quarter mile after that and another pine shortly thereafter. These last two are within 5-10min of the jct with Castle Ravine Trail. There’s a leaner/widowmaker around where The Link diverges from Castle Ravine Trail. The only others I specifically recall were two on the section of Israel Ridge Path between Emerald Trail and the Perch (not that large I don’t think) and I believe two more small ones along Randolph Path between Lowe’s Path and Perch Path. So nothing too large but some (mostly the fresh pines) were a pain to get through. My memory is a bit fuzzy so many days later, but I remember thinking that 1) these trails, in general, didn’t seem to be as well blazed as others in the area I’d recently been on, and 2) the trails above tree line I was on, did not have any blaze; they were only marked with cairns. This would include all of The Cornice and at least pieces of Randolph Path, Israel Ridge Trail, and Gray Knob Trail. The exception was Caps Ridge which did have yellow blaze above tree line occasionally. I wouldn’t say any of these were hard to follow though except perhaps The Cornice. The cairns, while I could normally see at least one ahead of me (not in cloud) were spaced fairly far apart and often led through awkward scrub and such without much of an evident way to get between each set of cairns. I don’t remember the trails below tree line being very well blazed either. Randolph Path is blazed in blue and I believe Israel Ridge and Lowe’s Path are as well since they connect to the AT. All others, if blazed, would be in yellow probably as they don’t connect with the AT. The Link’s blazing, while not frequent, was pretty regularly and often enough. Sometimes a bit old looking. Definitely some eroded spots of trail with sketchy footing that could use some trail work. One section of Randolph Path in the mile between Lowe’s Path and Perch Path where the trail was undermined badly as well. Those spots kind of scare me as I’m always worried about losing a foot (sort of like postholing in dirt). Hopefully it will have some work done on it soon.  
Dog-Related Notes
Dog-Related Notes: This hike is not suitable for most dogs due to the steep scrambling on Caps Ridge Trail and the sharp, jagged boulders you just hop across above tree line. Those that can handle it may need booties or that stuff you put on their paws to protect them. This hike would also be too long and strenuous for most dogs (and humans!). Multiple spots to get water but you’ll still likely need to bring extra. None seen.  
Bugs
Bugs: It’s been a few days so my memory is a bit fuzzy but I don’t think they were bad. In fact, I didn’t think I even used bug spray! Granted, it was fairly windy above tree line most of the day which mostly kept the black flies away although some were still seen on me 
Lost and Found
Lost and Found: I picked up a liter bottle of Polar Seltzer water that had been left on the trail. It looked like it may have fallen out of a pack or was unintentional. I gladly picked it up and will use it (lightest bottle to hold a liter of water). I think I found it somewhere along The Link. I’ll happily return it if it’s yours.  
 
Comments
Comments: The purpose of this hike was to finish redlining all the trails from the Appalachia area to the ridge thus leaving me with only one hike left in the northern Presidentials tab to finish up some Great Gulf Trail and a couple missing pieces along the ridge. This hike was also training for that, even more grueling one ;) Unfortunately, I was not successful. The hike I planned was 22.8mi with 7350ft of gain (did not include unplanned road walk). I wanted a 5am start but didn’t get started until 6am and was slower than I wanted to be so cut it short to 19.6mi with about 6500ft of vertical gain including my road walk (about 0.3mi each way). Unfortunately the difference in mileage will probably be tripled on my next hike to get the trails and pieces of trails I missed by cutting my hike short.

My crazy route 😂: Road walk —> Lowe’s Path —> The Link —> Caps Ridge Trail —> The Cornice —> Randolph Path —> Israel Ridge Path up to Gulfside, all the way down to Emerald Trail, and back up to —> Perch Path out to Gray Knob Trail and back to Randolph Path —> Randolph Path down to Lowe’s Path and all the way back up to —> Gray Knob Trail —> loop with Quay Path —> Lowe’s Path —> road walk back to car

My even crazier attempted route 🤪: same until Gray Knob Trail but then —> Gray Knob Trail out to Spur Trail and back to —> Hincks Trail —> Spur Trail —> Randolph Path down to Pentadoi, up to Lowe’s Path, then back to —> Log-Cabin Cutoff —> Cabin-Cascades Trail —> Israel Ridge Path —> The Link —> Lowe’s Path.

While the water crossings were only a bit challenging at worst, it was quite evident that it had rained a lot the day/night before. What surprised me the most was just how wet the vegetation was even later in the day. My pants got soaked on the upper portion of The Link where it’s more overgrown. I even got wet on pieces of trail above treeline in the early afternoon from vegation that hadn’t dried. I was sort of astounded by this as it was at least partly sunny. Some spots on The Link felt like hiking through overgrown York Pond Trail or Kilkenny Ridge Trail in the early morning when everything is wet and your pants get soaked but not that bad anywhere else. The trail was also very wet in the morning and it took at least a few hours to dry out. Lots of wet and slick rock and ledge below tree line but the scrambles and rocks above tree line were dry by the time I got to them. It was fairly windy which probably helped. The wind wouldn’t knock you over but could make some uncomfortable particularly if you’re small, inexperienced, or above tree line for an extended period of time. Things were generally wet, but not terribly muddy. Just a couple spots of minor standing/running water.

Didn’t see too many people out as I was mostly on the not-so- travelled trails and it was a weekday but I hiked with and had nice conversation with a young man almost done with his 48 on his way up Jefferson. I also met and chatted with a father an son staying at the Log Cabin and headed up to Adams the next day. Met some through hikers around Storm Lake as well.

The Link has some nice and very pretty sections with lush moss and even a flat section somewhere around Castle/Castle Ravine like this. The section between Caps Ridge and Castle gets a bad rap and it is slow going and challenging with the footing but I thought the section between Castle and Castle Ravine was just about as bad, possibly worse as the footing was similar but it was generally much steeper. Nice to be on the upper portion of Caps Ridge again which I hadn’t been on in years. Similarly with the lower section of Lowe’s Path which I’d only done in winter before :)  
Name
Name: Liam Cooney 
E-Mail
E-Mail: liamcooney96@gmail.com 
Date Submitted
Date Submitted: 2020-08-09 
Link
Link: http:// 
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