Sunday, May 20, 2018

Ridge of the Caps Trail (aka Caps Ridge)


Mountain Boys - Zach King and Corey Sobetzer on Caps Ridge
The Ridge of the Caps trail to the summit of Mt Jefferson, begins at the highest trailhead in the White Mountains at the high point of Jefferson Notch Road. For this reason it is also one of the fastest routes to that magical place "treeline" where all hiking, no matter how strenuous, has a step by step payoff.

Beyond this the Ridge of the Caps trail is one of the great hiking experiences for many more reasons. Start with the thick, mossy forests along the first mile of the hike. The experience is a bit like stepping into a scene from "Lord of the Rings" and kids find it magical.

Emerging onto the first view you'll find yourself on "Whirlpool ledge". This is an excellent example of rocks that have been shaped by erosion as the glacier receeded, though there is no water nearby you will find potholes formed by the action of water and rock.

From here on there is nothing but exciting hiking for the rest of the trip to the summit of Jefferson. In the photo above you can see the Caps which are a series of rock outcroppings that make the trip very interesting and far more arduous than the 2.4 mile hike to the summit would suggest.

If you are doing a day hike and need to return to the same spot, you'll take the same trail down. However, if you have made the logistical arrangements and you can continue on toward Clay and Washington it is an experience well worth the work. The Jefferson Highlands, between the summit of Jefferson and Clay, is a beautiful area filled with alpine flowers, sage and other grasses that make it quite an extraordinary experience...take your pack off and lounge in the grass. Don't hurry this experience because it will be one that you will long remember if you relish it.

Relaxing in Jefferson Highlands

In bygone eras there were actually games of croquet played in some of the flatter areas that you will notice. There is actually an area known as Bigelow Lawns where the croquet games of old were played.

Please be aware that the weather in the Presidentials is quite unusual and that it can change dramatically in a very short period of time. Be sure to bring warm clothing and rain gear irrespective of the weather forecast and be prepared for high winds which are not at all unusual in this alpine area. The photos above were taken within an hour of each other. A beautiful sunny day became socked in with clouds in a matter of minutes.


Directions:
From Rte 302 in Bretton Woods, take the Marshfield Road towards the Cog Railroad base station and turn left on the Jefferson Notch Road. The opposite side of the road comes out on Rt 2 near the Bowman trailhead. A WMNF Parking Pass is required.


Clouds Over Mt Webster Poster - Click Here.

Last Light on the Mt. Washington Hotel