This year’s Loon Race had a record 208 finishers who braved the 40%+ grades of the the Upper Walking Boss trail as part of their effort to conquer the mountain.
Rock and Root Rating: 5
Mud Rating: 3
This is probably one of the harder runs I’ve done, but fun nonetheless. Taking the Edmunds Trail from Mt. Clinton Rd. makes for a steep, rocky ascent. Once you reach tree line it flattens out and the footing becomes better. On the saddle between Monroe and Eisenhower is the intersection w/ the Crawford Path. The summit of Eisenhower is fairly flat and has a giant pile for rocks. There are some pretty good views I am told. The only time I have been up there I could only see about 100m in front of me. Typical White Mountain weather. An alternate but longer route would be to take the Crawford Path from Crawford Notch.
Directions: Take Rt. 302 to Crawford Notch. Once you reach the notch take a right onto Mt. Clinton Rd. Follow the road until you see the Edmunds Path trailhead on the right.
CAUTION : OBJECTS IN PICTURES MAY BE STEEPER THAN THEY APPEAR.
Here is my course description of the Mt. Washington Road Race. I live in North Conway, NH, about 30 minutes from the mountain. I get to train on the road quite often and thought it might be helpful to people running the race to have a mile by mile course description leading up to the race. I hope it helps you all to faster times on race day. If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me, Kevin Tilton, by filling out this form
The first mile is actually 0.9 of a mile and has about a quarter mile of flat at the start. Don’t go out too hard, because you will pay for it further on up the hill. The grade increases a little and stays that way to the top. You’ll get used to the uphill grind if you run smart and don’t worry about what the people around you are doing. The grade until the one mile mark doesn’t really change much. The 1 mile mark is on the left side of the road right after the 2000 ft marker.
Mile 2 is possibly one of the toughest on the course. There are a couple of flat sections where you will find a water stop, but you will also find sustained inclines around 17%. You are still below tree line during this mile which provides shade on cool days but can trap heat on warmer days. Once again don’t get caught up in what pace everyone else is running. You may find though that you are reeling in people that went out too fast by the 2 mile mark. The 2 mile mark is on the right side of the road.
Mile 3 has a couple of steep sections, but maintains a steady 12% grade most of the time. You will notice that trees are starting to get a little shorter at this point. Nothing special during this mile. You may notice that you are getting tired if you haven’t already (Really insightful, I know). The 3 mile mark is on the left side of the road.
Mile 4 is home to one of the more mentally demanding points in the race. There is a straightaway that looks to be endlessly long and uphill. This stretch is not any steeper than the rest of the road, it’s just mentally daunting. After completing this stretch you’ll find the halfway mark. Don’t expect your second half time to be anywhere near your first. The 4 mile mark is around a left hand turn above tree line on the right side of the road. Watch for the wind as you come around. It’s usually in your face.
Mile 5 is known for a long stretch of steep gravel above tree line. After the 4 mile mark the road zig zags back and forth and even flattens out in one of the parking lots. Once you reach the gravel the road steadily climbs to the 5 mile mark. The terrain falls off on the left side of the road down into Pinkham Notch. The 5 mile mark is near the end of the grade before you reach the Cragway Turn. You will find the marker on the left side of the road. If you look up the gravel stretch from the flat section you can make out the 5 mile mark in the distance.
Most of mile 6 is a long grind on gravel after you round the Cragway Turn. You will find that there is very little vegetation to shelter you from the wind. Most of the gravel is well packed, so traction is usually not a problem. The 6 mile mark is on the right side of the road overlooking the Great Gulf Wilderness.
The hardest part of mile 7 is the infamous Sheep’s Back hairpin. This is the spot where Kenyan master Andrew Masai walked in 2003 while in 2nd place and never recovered. Most of mile 7 is gravel with a few stretches before the hairpin that are paved. After the hairpin the road is paved to the top. One of the few flat stretches during the race is found after the hairpin known as the Cow Pasture. At this point you are quite aways above tree line and exposed to the elements.
The Last 0.6
The last 0.6 miles is just as hard as the previous 7 miles. Once you reach the 7 mile marker you will probably start to see a few spectators and cars. You can smell and hear the Cog Railway and the buildings on the summit. When you round the penultimate corner you will think you are done until you see a 22% grade staring you in the face, waiting to add insult to injury. Once you find you way up this last stretch you can cross the finish line knowing you have completed one of the most grueling road races in the world. Congratulations. Enjoy the view while you’re there, if there is one.
Rock and Root Rating: 3
Mud Rating: 1-2
The Moat Ridge is the Mt. Washington Valley’s version of the Franconia Ridge. The views from the ridge span in all directions. There are great views of the Presidentials from North Moat and great views of the Mt.Washington Valley and Chocorua from Middle and South Moat. Most people start this run from the Diana’s Bath Trailhead off of West Side Rd., climb North Moat, and head south. The climb up North Moat is steep at times, but worth the effort. After summiting North Moat the trail drops down a few small ledges and enters the scrub. More great views can be seen from the Red Ridge Intersection. Most of the trail is in the open from middle Moat to South Moat. The trail drops down to the new trailhead located on Dugway (Passaconaway) Rd. A car spot is recommended unless you like hitchhiking.
To Diana’s Bath: Take River Rd. to West Side Rd. in North Conway. Follow West Side Rd. north past the entrance to the Cathedral Ledge Rd. The Diana’s Bath trailhead is about 0.5 miles ahead on the left.
To Dugway Rd.: Take West Side Rd. from Conway Village about 1.5 miles until you reach Passaconaway Rd. on the left. Follow this about 5 miles until you see the parking lot on the right. If you reach the Dugway Picnic Area you have gone too far.
Rock and Root Rating: 3
Mud Rating: 1-2 (in the Spring can be a 4)
The Green Hills are the playground of local mountain runners who don’t have the time to drive to the notches but want to get some uphill running in. There are quite a few trails in the Green Hills Preserve (owned by The Nature Conservancy – click on the link for a great map of the area) that are multi-use that are used by hikers, mountain bikers, and snowmobilers in the winter. Many of the trails are quite rocky, but runnable. A detailed trail map is available at kiosks along the trail and at the above link.
Please support the Organizations who maintain these trails
The Green Hills and the surrounding areas are available to all of us through a lot of work by many organizations. Consider making a donation to the following to help support open space and amazing trails:
Mountain Meadow Riders (snowmobile club), PO Box 3522, North Conway, NH 03860
In the last few years, a multitude of single track trail has been added to the area. Not much of it is marked but, the rule of thumb with not getting lost on the single track is, if you go downhill you will come out at the power lines. If you go uphill, you’ll come out at the ridge. If you park at Walmart around the left hand side of the building, you can connect up with the Corridor 19 snowmobile trail, which has a variety of sections where singletrack comes in. If you do run on the Corridor 19 trail, check out the old Redstone Quarry ruins about a 1/2 mile in. You will see old lathes, boilers, latrines, and, if you follow the correct piece of single track through the lathes, you can get to the old quarry itself and see a piece of local history. Great running and great visuals.
Some of the major trails in the Green Hills Preserve:
Black Cap Trail
This trail starts at the parking lot at the top of Hurricane Mt. Rd. and goes to the summit of Black Cap where it connects to the Mason Brook snowmobile trail. The trail is rocky and rooted at the beginning but gets better. The last section before the summit is slippery when wet. There are great views in all directions from the top. Rather than taking the last section of slippery rocky trail up to the left, you will see the Black Cap Connector trail go off to the right. That way winds up the mountain on a much more runnable route. You will come to another fork where you should stay left to reach the summit. Taking the right fork will continue down on the Black Cap Connector.
Red Tail Trail
This trail is a great downhill run. It is very popular with mountain bikers in the valley. It criss-crosses a few clear cuts where there are great views of the Presidentials. The trail is well maintained by local mountain biking trails. Its quite the grind when climbing, but a great training run for Mt. Washington. The top of the trail starts by taking the Cranmore Connector from the Black Cap Trail. When coming form Black Cap the Red Tail Trail is on the right. Look carefully as the trail is not marked. The trail ends by the water reservoir tank at the bottom of Hurricane Mt. Rd.
Kettle Ridge Trail
A new trail (2009) in the area, you can make a nice loop up and down Black Cap by going up Kettle Ridge, then taking a left on Cranmore Connector trail and then a right on the Black Cap Trail to the summit. On your way back down, take the red Tail Trail. Trail starts from the small parking area near the water reservoir tank at the bottom of Hurricane Mountain Road. To get to the trail, run past the gate and then up to the right of the water tank and the trail starts just to the left above the reservoir in a recently logged area.
Peaked Mountain Trail
This trail is the central artery so to speak of the Green Hills Preserve. It starts at the Pudding Pond trailhead and crosses under the powerlines. The trail reaches an intersection with the Middle Mountain Trail (steep and rocky). After bearing left at the intersection the trail crosses the side of the mountain until it meets another trail at the Thompson Rd. kiosk. The trail starts to climb and eventually meets up with the Black cap Connector / Mason Brook Trail. A left turn (uphill) will take you to Black Cap; a right turn (downhill) takes you to East Conway Rd.
Middle Mountain Trail
From the Pudding Pond kiosk, make a left underneath the power lines and head straight across on the trail into the woods. This is the Peaked Mt. Trail. About a 1/2 mile in, you will come to a fork. To the left the Black Cap Connector/Peaked Mt. Trail, to the right is the Middle Mt. Trail. Follow to your right to head up Middle. You can make a loop out of Peaked and Middle. The trail that connects the two of them is kind of wet so be careful on the footing on slick, mossy rock. Another trail of note you will see as you start to head up the Middle Mt./Peaked fork mentioned above is a sign that has a picture of a mountain bike or a small sign that says “trail”. If you follow that off to the right, it’s a lot of fun single track that will eventually take you to the Redstone Quarry area.
The killer ridge run/Mason Brook Loop
You can also make a challenging 13+ mile loop that can take upwards of 3 hours depending on your endurance and conditions. Park at Walmart and follow the dirt trails over the train tracks and connect with the Corridor 19 Snowmobile trail. The trail curves around to the left and then to the right under the power lines. Just after the power lines, look for some single track trail on your left. Take that into the woods and keep on going until you cross a brook. Immediately after the brook, take the trail to the right that goes straight up Rattlesnake Mountain. When you summit Rattlesnake, you can follow a little used single track trail to Middle Mountain and then over to Peaked Mountain. As you then descend on Peaked, take the trail to the Black Cap Connector Trail to the summit of Black Cap. On your way up Black Cap, make a note of the Mason Brook Trail on your right as you will be coming down that way on your return trip. Once you summit Black Cap, turn around and retrace your steps until you get to the Mason Brook Trail. Take a left onto Mason Brook and follow it down until it comes out at a dirt road in what looks like an old sand pit. This is the Corridor 19 Snowmobile Trail. There is a kiosk just to your left when you come off of Mason Brook onto Corridor 19. Take a right onto the dirt road and follow it up the hill for about 1/2 a mile until you come to a much larger sand pit area. In this area the main dirt road will continue straight on through the sand pit and go a bit to the left. The Corridor 19 Trail forks off this main dirt road and goes just up the hill a bit. Follow Corridor 19 for another 2.4 miles and you’ll be back at Walmart. This is a pretty technical run and can be wet and muddy depending on the season.
Miles of Single Track but how do I get to it?
The local mountain biking community has been instrumental in building an amazing network of single track trail through the Green Hills and Conway town conservation land. Here is our attempt to get you to some of the trailheads:
Go to Walmart in North Conway and park around to the left side of the store in the open area in the back. You will see a dirt trail/road heading towards the power lines behind the store. Follow this road over the railroad tracks and head towards the power lines. The trail will curve around to the left under the power lines. You can either:
A. Just follow that road. It’s a snowmobile trail and goes on for miles and miles and is great for running all year round. This is the NH Corridor 19 snowmobile trail and is quite runnable all winter long once the groomers have been out. Just keep in mind during the winter, this is someone else’s trail and you’re taking advantage of it. So show the snowmobilers some respect and consider making a donation to one of the many snowmobile clubs in the area. It’s their volunteers that keep this thing open.
B. About 200 meters up ahead from where you connected with the power lines, the main trail will curve around to the right. If you continue straight for about 5 meters instead of going to the right, take the little dirt road off to your left. This will go past an old granite pillar from the quarry that used to be in there. It’s neat to see and looks out of place in the middle of the woods. Go straight past the pillar another 10 meters and follow the piece of singletrack into the woods. That trail will continue on for a while, and eventually come out on the Pudding Pond trails. It would be an out and back you do on this one. It is nicely shaded.
C. Following the road in item A around to the right for about 10 meters, look to your left for a piece of single track that heads up into the woods. That is the beginning of a bunch of unmarked single track trail that goes one for quite a while. There is a lot of choices of crossing trails in there but the rule of thumb is, head downhill the sidehill to get back to the power lines, head up the hill to the get to the ridge. This would also be another out and back and is nicely shaded.
D. Continue past the single track mentioned in item C for another 1/4 mile or so and you will see the ruins from the old Redstone Quarry. In the middle of the ruins on your left just past the old tool storage area is some single track that goes through the quarry lathe buildings and up to the top of the quarry. Amazing piece of history and some great single track that continues all the way over to the Middle Mountain trail.
Thompson Road entrance: Take Artist’s Falls Rd. from Rt. 16/302 in North Conway and cross the North-South Rd. Take a right onto Thompson Rd. and park at the trailhead for the Puddin Pond Loop on the right.
Walmart entrance: Go to Walmart in North Conway and park around to the left side of the store in the open area in the back. You will see a dirt trail/road heading towards the power lines behind the store.
Rock & Roots Rating: 4
Mud Rating: 2
Directions: Take Rt. 113 in East Conway towards Evans Notch. The trailhead is about 0.2 miles past the Cold River Camp in Chatham.
The Baldface Loop Trail is one of the coolest runs I have ever done. This loops is steep in spots but flattens out once you reach the ridge line. The views in this area are spectacular and the footing once above tree line is pretty good. The descent down from North Baldface can be tricky, but easier than descending from South Baldface.
Rock & Root Rating: 5
Mud Rating: 3
Not to be confused with Kearsarge that is down near Warner, NH,this is Mount Kearsarge right here in the MWV,
Kearsarge may be a short run, but it is as rocky as they come in places. The summit is wide open though and gives great views of the Whites and the Mt. Washington Valley. A nice enclosed fire tower on the top of Kearsarge awaits you for your efforts.
There is an alternate route down the back side via the Shingle Pond Trail, which is only for the brave and those willing to get muddy in the summer when it is overgrown.
Directions: Take Hurricane Mt. Rd. from Rt. 16/302 in North Conway. You’ll see the trailhead on the left.
Length: 10 miles
Rock and Root Rating: 4
Mud Rating: 2
This is quite the rocky climb, but the views at the top from the observation tower and the Signal Ridge are some of the best in the White Mountains. The trail starts off fairly flat next to a stream and winds through stands of birch trees. Once you start climbing the trail gets rocky and steep. There are numerous switchbacks which help in the climb. As you near the Signal Ridge, you’ll notice the trees getting shorter. The trail turns to dirt again and you’ll see an awesome view of the Whites from a unique perspective. The ridge drops off to your right as you work your way towards the summit of Carrigan. You duck back into the woods for a little over a mile before you reach the summit. At the top is an old fire tower that has been transformed into an observation tower. Bring your camera for this one.
Directions: Take Rt. 302 from Bartlett Village towards Crawford Notch. Look for Sawyer River Rd. on your left. Take this dirt road about 2.5 miles to a parking lot on your left. You’ll see the Signal Ridge Trail on your right.