|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||Air Line, Short Line, King Ravine Trail, Upper Bruin, Valley Way, Lower Bruin, Watson Path, Brookside|
|Date of Hike:
||Saturday, August 15, 2020|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||Arrived at Appalachia shortly after 8 AM to find enormous lines of cars in both directions. Managed to grab a spot maybe a quarter-mile away. When we got back at 5:15, we were surprised to find that most of the cars were still there. Either everyone was off on very long hikes, or people were planning to camp (I hope it wasn't the latter, since Madison Hut, Gray Knob, and Crag Camp are all still closed to overnight guests. |
||Dry Trail, Mud - Minor/Avoidable |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||Only ones of note were the two near the bottom of Brookside, which both had conveniently placed stepping-stones to aid the crossing. Both were straightforward rock hops. |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||Minimal blowdowns, a few mudpits but nothing too bad. All signs were in place. Substantial erosion in many sections of the trails. |
||Dogs would be OK on most of the lower-elevation trails in the Northern Presidentials, but they could have trouble above treeline due to the rock-hopping and the sharp rocks. King Ravine is definitely not a place for dogs - all of the trails there are very dog-unfriendly (i.e. don't take dogs past Mossy Fall). Despite the large number of hikers out, we didn't see a single dog today, not even on the lower-elevation trails. |
||Not an issue. Neither of us put on bug spray, and we still were not bothered. Maybe bug season is finally starting to come to an end! |
|Lost and Found:
||We saw a bunch of unusual items left on the trails - a blue towel and large black backpack on Brookside (maybe a tenth of a mile apart), and an orange sweatshirt on the lower Valley Way. We left everything where it was. ||
||This was a very strenuous and very rewarding hike. We took the normal route to King Ravine (Air Line -> Short Line -> King Ravine Trail, nothing much to mention in that section), and then climbed into King Ravine on a stretch of trail that is notorious for having lots of deep holes that have to be avoided (this was mentioned in my previous trip report here: https://www.newenglandtrailconditions.com/nh/viewreport.php?entryid=48291, and in Liam Cooney's trip report here: https://www.newenglandtrailconditions.com/nh/viewreport.php?entryid=48450) Once we got past the Chemin des Dames junction, the trail got somewhat more gradual, though there were still difficult boulder scrambles and eroded sections to deal with. But then, once we got to and past the Ice Caves loop, the real climbing began. Near the bottom of the headwall, there are a lot of rock scrambles that are particularly challenging due to the holes between the rocks. The size of those holes gradually decreases as you continue up the headwall. The entire trail up the headwall is very steep boulder scrambling, sometimes over loose rock, and there is no relief until the junction with Air Line at the top. The section of King Ravine Trail from Mossy Fall up to Air Line is 1.3 miles, climbs roughly 2,000 vertical feet, and took us about 2 hours and 40 minutes.|
In King Ravine, the weather was pleasant and mostly sunny. But when we reached Air Line, we were met with a relatively cold wind that cooled us down quickly, and some clouds coming in from the other side of Adams/Madison. I made sure to redline the short section of Air Line between the King Ravine and Gulfside junctions, and then finally finished redlining Air Line when we reached the junction with Air Line Cutoff. Then we continued to head down Air Line to the Chemin des Dames junction.
We were originally planning to hike down Chemin des Dames in order to grab that Terrifying 25. However, I was extremely tired from the climb up King Ravine (which was undoubtedly one of the toughest trails I have ever done), and my legs were feeling slightly unsteady. So we decided to leave Chemin des Dames for later and descended a route where falling would not have such serious consequences. Upper Bruin was clear and was a moderate-to-steep trail. The section of Valley Way between the junctions of Upper and Lower Bruin is supposedly only 0.4 miles (according to the AMC's map), but it seems significantly longer. Lower Bruin was quite steep in places, but still a perfectly fine trail to descend. The WMG mentions one spot on Lower Bruin where descending hikers might go the wrong way, however we did not have any issues following the trail. It meets up with Watson Path at a waterfall called Duck Fall, which was very scenic.
We then hiked briefly on Watson Path to the junction with Brookside, and hopped onto Brookside for the remainder of the descent. The upper half-mile of Brookside, above the junction with Kelton Trail, is rough and steep in places, but some spots are quite scenic. Below the junction with Kelton Trail, Brookside has better footing. The two crossings of Snyder Brook were not difficult, and then we hopped on Valley Way and took it back to the trailhead.
Despite the massive lines of cars at the trailhead, we didn't see a huge number of people. We saw a half-dozen or so in King Ravine, a few groups on Air Line, another few groups on Valley Way, and one group on Watson Path (we didn't see anyone on Brookside). All hikers were friendly, and some donned masks while going past us. Nice weather, no bugs, tough trails = a great day to be out hiking!
Disclaimer: Reports are not verified - conditions may vary. Use at own risk. Always be prepared when hiking. Observe all signs. Trail conditions reports are not substitutes for weather reports or common sense.