Mount Kearsarge and Baker's Ledge

Destinations:  Mt. Kearsarge (2930'), Baker's Ledge (1650')
Trails:  Link Trail, Lincoln Trail, Rollins Trail, Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway
Region:  NH - Central West  
Mount Kearsarge State Forest
Location:  Sutton, NH
Rating:  Easy/Moderate  
Features:  Summit, views, fire tower
Distance:  9.0 miles  
Elevation Gain:  2100 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Typical: 5:35  
Outing Duration:  Typical: 8:00  
Season:  Summer
Hike Date:  08/07/1999 (Saturday)  
Last Updated:  05/03/2009  
Weather:  About 70 degrees overall (at the summit, the wind-chill factor made it seem much colder)
Author:  Webmaster

Route Summary   

This is hike up to Mount Kearsarge with outstanding 360-degree views from its bare summit.

Ascent
  • Start on Link Trail and follow it for 0.5 mile.
  • At the junction with Lincoln Trail, turn left to follow it uphill. The Lincoln Trail is part of the Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway.
  • Stay straight on this wide trail for 1.0 mile.
  • Then turn left onto a medium-width trail (still the Lincoln Trail) and follow it for 0.5 mile.
  • At this point there were will be a spur path marked "scenic route". Turn left here and follow the faint footway for about 0.1 mile until reaching Baker's Ledge with a nice outlook.
  • Retrace your steps back to Lincoln Trail and turn left to resume the trek.
  • Continue following Lincoln Trail, now a narrow footpath, for another 2.0 miles.
  • At this point you will arrive at Rollins State Park and have a choice of ascending the remaining segment via Lincoln Trail (rougher) or Rollins Trail (easier).
  • I followed Lincoln Trail for the final 0.3 mile to Mount Kearsarge's summit.

Descent
  • For the descent, I followed Rollins Trail for 0.5 where it ends at a parking area.
  • Then I retraced my steps on Lincoln Trail.
  • After 3.0 miles on Lincoln Trail, turn right at the junction with the wide path (still Lincoln Trail).
  • Descend this snowmobile trail for another mile, then turn right onto Link Trail.
  • Follow Link Trail for 0.5 mile back to the parking area on Kearsarge Valley Road.

Place         Split
Miles
     Total
Miles
Link Trailhead on Kearsarge Valley Road (850') 0.0 0.0
Jct. Link Trail/Lincoln Trail (1050') 0.5 0.5
Jct. Lincoln Trail/Baker's Ledge spur trail (1650') 1.5 2.0
Baker's Ledge (1650') 0.1 2.1
Jct. Lincoln Trail/Baker's Ledge spur trail (1650') 0.1 2.2
Rollins State Park parking area (2600') 2.0 4.2
Mt. Kearsarge summit (2930') 0.3 4.5
Rollins State Park parking area (2600') 0.5 5.0
Jct. Lincoln Trail/Baker's Ledge spur trail (1650') 2.0 7.0
Jct. Link Trail/Lincoln Trail (1050') 1.5 8.5
Link Trailhead on Kearsarge Valley Road (850') 0.5 9.0

Stay overnight in a tipi - Tipi Lodging

 



 

Map of hike route to Mt. Kearsarge (map by Webmaster)


Trail Guide   

This was a very pleasant trail. I was the only one on it and the only car at the trailhead. The path is well marked with white blazes and there is mostly good footing throughout. In a few spots ferns and raspberry bushes are hiding the rocks and dips on the trail (due to low usage is my guess) so extra caution must be used in these parts to prevent tripping and ankle twists. I had to climb over or under several trees that were across the trail - but none of them were difficult to get past.

For the most part it was gradual/moderate climbing and a fairly easy trail overall in spite of the distance.

The first half-mile mile meanders through woods with neat looking-boulders scattered about and soft ground underfoot. This section is exceptionally well marked, not only with the white blazes but also with colorful streamers.

The next 1.5 miles are on a wide trail that is also used by snowmobiles. The first mile of this section is exposed to sun - trees line the route but don't overhang it enough to provide complete shade. It's about the width of a car and is rocky - just the small, loose kind of rocks that you can walk right over - no boulder climbing or hopping. Some parts are more dirt/grass than rocks. At one point on this section, another snowmobile trail veers off to the right (don't take that turn) and at this junction is a "Ridge Runners" map of snowmobile trails in the area. The last half-mile of this section is a little more narrow but still wide enough for two people to walk side by side and mostly soft, needle-covered ground underfoot.

At 2.0 miles is a spur path (signed) that turns left. Following this trail for about 5-10 minutes will lead you to Bakers Ledge: a great outlook to the west with really pleasant, persistent, refreshing breezes. The path is a little tough to follow at times. Almost immediately after leaving the main trail, you'll have to climb over a fallen tree that's blocking the path. Then shortly there will be a clearing where the trail seems to end. No this isn't the great outlook. Continue through the clearing and head towards the left. If you keep walking westerly, you should see a couple signs with directing orange arrows on them. When you get there, you'll know it because the view is great. From here I could see the golf course which is close to the trailhead - but better than that were the views of lush green trees and mountains. Sunapee Mountain and Lovewell Mountain are both visible.

The next section of trail from the Blake's Ledge spur to the Rollins State Park parking area (2.0 miles) is a narrow footpath and it is here that you will encounter some "hidden" rocks and dips. I saw a snake in this section - it was right on the trail and luckily it slithered away right before I stepped on it since it became aware of me before I saw him. It may have been a brown snake but I'm not sure. The path is mostly in the shade with several small clearings letting the sun drench the ferns and raspberries. You can catch a few glimpses of outlooks to more mountains in between the trees. There's also a few spots where you have mini "cliffs" along one side of the trail for short sections. The "cliffs" are boulders that seem to form walls about ten feet tall. In one spot, they are on both sides of the path - pretty neat.

Once you near the Rollins State Park parking area, civilization sets in. There were quite a few cars in the lot when I was there; car motors and talking people could be heard. Here you have a choice of taking the final 0.3 mile up, continuing along the Lincoln Trail which is said to be steep in this section; or taking an "easy" 0.5 mile route up on the Rollins Trail.

I choose to follow the Lincoln Trail. The very beginning of this section is a mess of boulders which require scrambing over. It looks like a boulder "stream" - it seems to meander like a brook but instead of being full of water, it's full of boulders - all different shapes but the sizes are approximately three feet by two feet by two feet. Very shortly you'll reach a flat area where you're on smooth rock with great outlooks. You can also look up to the open summit from here. It's at this point that the white blazes seemed to disappear but I walked around on the open ridges and eventually found them again. Despite the "steep" warning, this section also seemed to be relatively easy.

The summit is completely open with 360-degree views. It is crowded since there's easy access to it via both Rollins State Park (0.5 mile trail) and Winslow State Park (1.0 mile trail). But there's plenty of spots to spread out so the people didn't annoy me at all and I found a great little ledge all to myself. Also on the summit is a fire tower, a radio tower, and a couple other small buildings. There were great views all around - so much green and so many mountains.

I took the "easy" route (Rollins Trail) down to the parking area. I don't think I could have found the "steep" route if I tried because they purposely don't mark it for the descent so that inexperienced hikers won't accidentally end up on it. Rollins Trail dumped me out to a different section of the parking lot so I had to walk across the lot to get back to the Lincoln Trail.
 





 


NH - Central West



  Driving Directions   

The trailhead for this hike is located in Sutton, New Hampshire.

  • From I-89 take exit 10 (sign says "To 114" and there's also a brown sign that says "Winslow State Park").
  • At the bottom of the exit ramp, head east.
  • Very shortly you come to a T-stop.
  • Go right onto North Road and follow that for 0.4 mile.
  • Turn left onto Kearsarge Valley Road and follow that also for 0.4 mile
  • Turn right into a fairly obvious cleared dirt/grass parking area. (If you reach the golf course, you've gone 0.4 mile too far.)
  • There are no signs at the actual parking area - but a trailhead sign is visible just inside the woods from the parking area. It's at about the center of the parking area.

About Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway   

The Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway (SRKG) is a 75-mile "emerald necklace" (in the words of the SRKG Coalition) hiking trail located about 25 miles northwest of Concord, New Hampshire. This route forms a big Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway logo (photo by Webmaster) loop that can be hiked via fourteen point-to-point dayhikes ranging from 4–9 miles.

The name of the greenway comes from the fact that the trail hikes over the summits of Mount Sunapee (2726'), Ragged Mountain (2225'), and Mount Kearsarge (2930'). Lake Sunapee is completely within this "necklace" and one section of the SRKG passes by its southern tip. The "Greenway" part of the name comes from the fact that the trail passes through forests and areas that for the most part have seen little development.

The Greenway was first conceived in 1990 and relies heavily on the goodwill of the private landowners whose property it passes over. Please respect their generosity by parking responsibly, staying on the trail, not littering, and picking up any stray trash you happen to see during your walk. The SRKG passes through ten New Hampshire towns: Andover, Danbury, Goshen, Newbury, New London, Springfield, Sunapee, Sutton, Warner, and Wilmot.

Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway Property Use Guidelines   

  • Dogs are not allowed.
  • Camping is not allowed.

More Mt. Kearsarge and Greenway Trail Reports   

 
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