Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cold Day Around Echo Lake State Park!

Jill and I took this past Friday off from work and decided to head north to find some snow in the White Mountains. We planned on a nice, scenic hike in the Crawford Notch behind the AMC Highland Center. It would be a trek around the Ammonoosuc Lake, on the Around-the-Lake Trail. When we finally made it into the notch, we found exactly what we were looking for...lots of snow!!! Along with the snow was some frigid cold temperatures and wind that cut right through you!

Cathedral Ledge seen over Echo Lake

Since we knew that this was a very well traveled trail, we assumed the snow coverage would be packed down due to foot traffic. For this reason, we never tossed the snowshoes in the car, which was a big mistake. When we finally made our way to the trailhead, we were surprisingly disappointed to see one to two feet of freshly drifted snow on the trail. We pushed forward anyway, hiking about 0.2 miles before giving up and retreating. Unfortunately for us, trudging through deep snow, over unknown terrain, was not the type of hike we were looking for.

Jill and I hopped in the car with frowns on our face and continued southeast on Route 302. By the time we made our way out of the Crawford Notch, there was barely any snow, anywhere. It was hard to believe we had just been knee deep on the trail. As we headed into North Conway, we decided to hit up Echo Lake State Park. Apparently, we were the only people that day that wanted to walk around the lake, since there were no other cars.

Echo Lake Trail (wide and smooth)

As we walked to the trailhead, it didn't take long to realize it was just as cold at Echo Lake, as it was in the Crawford Notch. From the beach area on the lake, we received fabulous views of both White Horse Ledge and Cathedral Ledge. At some points on the loop, we saw the Moat Mountains poking over the trees. The Echo Lake Trail was very wide, flat and easy on the legs. It was only 0.9 miles long, but seemed a bit longer, since it was so cold and there was no elevation gain to warm our chilled muscles.
Fungi on a log near the trail

This hike wasn't exactly what we were planning on, but it was fun anyway. I can honestly say, that hiking on trails in the winter months, that are not snow covered, make for my least favorite hikes. All the flowers have passed, the leaves have fallen, the mushrooms are dead...and there's no snow to make a pretty landscape! Regardless, I enjoy being out in the woods more than I enjoy sitting inside, so I will always choose hiking.

White Horse Ledge over Echo Lake

The Moat Mountains poking over the trees

I think my favorite part of the day was driving through this wonderful State of New Hampshire. By the time we found ourselves back at home, we had made a complete, five hour loop around the state. We had driven north past Moosilauke and the beautiful, snow covered Franconia Ridge. Heading into Twin Mountain, the white Presidentials came into view, with Mount Washington towering over everything on the horizon. We continued west, through the Crawford Notch, enjoying the a snow covered Webster, Willard and Willey. Finally, heading home on Route 16, we passed the legendary Mount Chocorua, with a crisp, white peak. Man, I love New Hampshire!



  1. Cathedral ledge is beautiful!! It's too bad you left your snow shoes. I would have liked to see some pictures with snow. Here in Texas we have been having 75 degree days for a week! No white Christmas for us this year!

  2. Hi Steven,

    Cathedral Ledge is a very popular spot for many reasons. It can be hiked, rock climbed or driven up. The top has a great lookout over Conway toward Maine. In the summer,it is not uncommon to be hanging out at the top and then all of a sudden, see helmets poke up over the cliff edge...it's a neat spot!

    I realized when I got home that I should have pulled the car over take a few snapshots of the beautiful white capped mountains...but I didn't anticipate our snow walk ending so soon, so I didn't. We'll get some snowy shots up for you soon!!!


  3. Hey Karl,

    Sorry to hear that you didn't get to do the hike you wanted. Still though a short unplanned hike is better than no hike at all right? Great pics. I look forward to a day when I can see those view with my own two eyes. Those mountains are indeed beautiful.


  4. Hi Tim,

    You are correct...an unplanned hike is better than not...any day.

    I really wish I stopped and took some pictures of the Franconia Notch, Crawford Notch and the Presidentials to post. The ranges, snow-covered, are beautiful. The picture at the heading of my blog is the Franconia Ridge with Mt. Washington in the background (taken May 7th of this year)...picture this landscape glistening white!


  5. Did you get a chance to hike up to the top of the ledges, Karl. Pretty great views up there! Echo Lake is always a great choice for a quick outdoorsy hike in pinch!

  6. I made the same mistake of not bringing snowshoes last year so I feel your pain. I was going to do a winter ascent of Mt Adams and my pack was full so I left the snowshoes in the car thinking the trail would be packed. I ran into several feet of fresh snow just like you did and my summit bid was shut down.

  7. @Dan - Hi Dan, no, unfortunately, we didn't hike up to the ledges. We're taking it easy these days and trying to stay away from any elevation while we're expecting the baby. You're right, Echo Lake did give us the pick-me-up we needed in the pinch. Still would have liked to trek in snow, though.

    @Grant - I can imagine your situation on Adams, we a bit more demanding than ours at Around-The-Lake Trail. You certainly made the right decision to turn back since you didn't have the snowshoes. I think that is what makes a good hiker, knowing your limitations and knowing when to turn back...the mountain will always be there.