Here we go another week and another hike in the White Mountain National Forest this week we hiked Bicknell Ridge Trail. This trail is an offshoot from the Baldface Circle Trail that circles the Baldface Peaks. The trail head starts on the NH side of RT 113 close to 2.5 miles should of the Cold River Campground. The first part of the trail is a nicely marked and wide open path through the woods. Only the land directly around the trail in this section is part of the National Forest the rest of the surrounding land is private property so don’t be surprised if you see signs asking to respect the property owner’s land. Just prior to reaching the first trail junction the trail comes across to a small trail intersection (WP Emerald Pool Int) this trail will lead to the Emerald Pool. The Emerald Pool will be found at the bottom of a twenty or so foot water fall. Here the water falls into a deep but small pool of water that often is the site of people enjoying the cool water.
Shortly after passing the off shoot trail that leads to the Emerald Pool you will reach the Circle Junction (WP Circle Junction) here you can head back to the Emerald Pool via a small trail that follows the brook, another trail also heads up to South Baldface. We are heading for the Bicknell Ridge Trail so we are going to just carry on straight through the intersection. Shortly after passing through the Circle Junction you will reach the first brook crossing. After the brook crossing the trail continues to be fairly open and a easy way. In a few areas trail erosion has caused trail deterioration so it can be a bit rough going in a couple of spots.
After close to 7/10ths of a mile from the Circle Junction we finally reach the beginning of the Bicknell Ridge Trail (WP BR and BCT Intersection) at a brook crossing. The Bicknell Ridge Trail crosses the brook (a easy crossing) and starts to gently climb. This first section of the trail is still a fairly easy grade but the forest starts to narrow the trail a bit. As the trail approaches the cut off to Eagle Cascade the trail will start to increase in grade and the path difficulty will start to increase. Before reaching the Eagle Cascade cut off the trail will start to climb up onto the ridge line (WP Rocks and Blueberries) that looks out onto the Baldface peaks and down into the Charles Ravine, as you climb up onto ridge line along the trail blueberry plants will start to line the trail. From here the trail will start to follow the ridge line from outcropping to outcropping. After the first outcropping you will soon come to the Eagle Cascade Link Trail (WP Eagle Cascade Int) this trail cuts to the Eagle Cascade and links up to the Baldface Circle Trail. If only looking for a small hike this is a great way to head back towards the trail head by cutting back to the Baldface Circle Trail and then heading back to the trail head. We continued up the ridge line. At this time of year blueberry bushes had a great number of berries ripe for the picking as the trail climbs higher and higher. This part of the trail does start to get mildly dangerous. With a kid carrier it is easy to get off balance especially if the sidekick decides to shift his position at all of the new sites.
I found this section of the trail a lot of fun and enjoyable. Not only does the valley open out for your view but even with the sun beating down there is a breeze helping to keep you cool. The path trails from outcropping to outcropping ducking back into the woods for a time weaving through boulders and then returning to a new viewpoint. Along this section there are multiple areas that would make for great sites to take a break. Just maintain an extra eye on the little ones. There are few areas that the side of the ridge drops off into the valley with a significant decline. Just before reaching the top of the ridge that creates a saddle between Eagle Crag and North Baldface Mtn the trail passes the Alpine Zone (WP Alpine Zone). This is an area the vegetation has a tendency to not recover as quickly from human traffic so the Forestry Department asks that you restrict from camping unless there is significant snow cover and to take extra care to either stay on the trail or only travel on rocks with no plant cover. Take heart once reaching this sign the top of the ridge line is only a short distance away the top.
Once reaching the saddle between the two peaks a decision awaits you. Head back the way we came, head towards North Baldface and the majority of the Baldface Circle Trail, head towards Eagle Crag and the shorter remnant of Baldface Circle Trail. My original plan was to complete the Baldface Circle Trail via the North Baldface and South Baldface. Due to the heat and that fact that I had already gone through 2 liters of water I decided to head back to the mountain via Eagle Crag. Perhaps if I didn’t have the sidekick with me I would have continued along the longer path but I felt that it would smarter to take the shorter path. So I turned towards Eagle Crag. The short trail between the Bicknell Ridge Intersection and Eagle Crag is a short but interesting hike. There is a few spots that a hiker should be take some extra care. The sidekick seemed to find this area very interesting so was constantly shifting around in his carrier trying to see everything which made a couple of spots very tricky.
Eagle Crag is a large open flat peak that provides access to Meader Ridge Trail and the Eagle Link Trail that leads to Wild River Trail. The sidekick and I spent a while here resting and eating our lunch. He was quite fascinated with the large boulders in the area and spent quite a while exploring the varied textured surface of the rocks. After this break we headed back along the Baldface Circle Trail. A couple of hikers we met on the trail mentioned that it was a bit easier going then following the ridge line back along Bicknell Ridge Trail. They were right. What they forgot to mention though was that the first couple of hundred yards of the trail after leaving Eagle Crag had an extreme grade. This section of the trail is extremely steep and we had to take extra care not to slide down the face of the cliff face. Once this section of the trail is navigated though it was a much easier path. The trail wanders through the woods instead of along a ridge line so it is sheltered from the sun. Most of the path is quite open and dry. A few wet spots can be found where steams or water has pooled along the trail but they are easily navigated. We made really good time for this 2.3 mile section of trail. Just before reaching the Bicknell Ridge and Baldface Circle Trail junction (WP BR and BCT Intersection) there is a small brook crossing (WP Brook Crossing) that could be a little tricky during spring melt or after a period of heavy rains but right now it was a pretty easy crossing. Once you get to the Bicknell Ridge Trail intersection you on a section of the trail that we hiked on getting to this intersection so relax and enjoy knowing the end is close.
The rest of the trail is easy going as you head back to the trail head and parking lot. Make sure that you keep an extra eye out when you have to cross RT 113. Vehicles often travel quite fast in this section and being tired from the hike its easy to not pay attention.
Enjoy your travels.