My wife says I’m the king of finding the path less traveled when it comes to hiking. I’m not sure why that is. Crowds certainly don’t bother me like they bother some other hikers. Some hikers will avoid great mountain tops and trails if they predict there will be a lot of traffic. Nope, that’s not me. So why do I go for trails that have very little traffic and not much published on them? I’m not 100% sure, but trail that isn’t well traveled does appeal to me. It was blazed for a reason, and sometimes, it was a reason other than giving a hiker the means to summit a mountain. Around the Whites, the reasons could have varied from mining, a nice vista, a lost ski area, logging, etc. By traveling on these lesser known trails, I can sort of be an explorer and observer of what makes that trail unique. Hopefully, I can observe and record (through pictures and a trip report) enough here to make it helpful for the next hiker. Who knows…what I publish may even make the trail popular again! I doubt it…but just maybe… back to my report.
This past weekend, my family stayed up in the Conway area and it was my job to map out a hike for Monday morning. Now, keep in mind, we had two small hikers with us. One was 2 years old and one was 5 years old. We were anticipating for both of them to hike with their own power, with an occasional carry from one of us. Cave Mountain seemed like a great choice as it was in neighboring Bartlett and was only 0.7 miles to the summit. And to my liking, there wasn’t much info out there on the trail (or mountain for that matter) which indicates a path less traveled.
We started at the Mount Langdon Trailhead. It was an open area trailhead that you could possibly fit one or two cars in, but there was also a small lot across the street. We opted for parking on the side of the road. The trail starts off wide, but pretty over grown with high grass. There’s a herd path inside the tall grass that was packed down, but your legs still had to brush the grass as you went down the path which increases the risk of ticks. I think the reason the trail was so wide was due to some logging a few years back. There was also evidence on the side of the trail of logging which drove me to that conclusion.
At 0.3 miles down the Mount Langdon Trail, there’s a homemade wooden sign that indicates the start of the Cave Mountain Trail on the left. The Cave Mountain Trail began to climb gently from the beginning and proceeded through some pine groves. Again, there was a lot of evidence of logging off to the left of the trail (while ascending). We continued on for another 0.3 miles or so and the trail became steeper and was covered with a lot of leaves which tells me it doesn’t get much traffic. The problem was the leaves, combined with the steepness, created a much dicier hike than I was anticipating for the kids.
We made it to some ledges and I assume the summit would have been just beyond this point. At the ledges, there were some great caves to explore. Unfortunately, due to the steepness, slippery leaves and remoteness of the hike, we weren’t willing to bring the kids any further. So, we reversed our direction and headed back to the trailhead. The summit will need to wait for another day when we’re without kids or when the kids are a bit older and more stable on the trail!
There was nothing about this trail that really jumped out at me as unique or memorable from a features standpoint. In fact, I had expected the first portion on the Mount Langdon Trail to be better maintained and easier to pass with the shelters being further north. Regardless, it was time in the woods and that’s always quality time, especially with the kids. Anything I can do to get my little ones to appreciate and cherish the woods and the mountains is worth it!