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Mt Crescent in Randolph’s Crescent Range

The Kilkenny Range (l to r) - Mts Pliny, Starr King, Waumbek, South Weeks, Middle weeks, North Weeks, Cabot, Bulge, Horn

The north outlook on Mt Crescent has one of the best views I’ve seen in the White Mountains in a long time. Located in the Randolph Community Forest, Mt Crescent and Mt Randolph are two 3000 footers in the Crescent Range just north of Rt 2 and the Northern Presidentials in New Hampshire.

Crescent’s north outlook faces the Kilkenny Range which you can see in its entirety, including Mt Pliny, Starr King, Waumbek, South Weeks, Middle Weeks, North Weeks, Cabot, the Bulge and the Horn. The day I was there, I could also see the Rodger’s Ledge, the Percy Peaks, and the ski runs on Sugarloaf Mountain, all the way into Maine!

Crescent’s south outlook, provides a clear view of the Northern Presidentials including the depths of King Ravine. On a clear day, you can see the entire ravine including the floor, and the tiny Crag Camp cabin nestled on the ravine’s eastern shoulder. Both outlooks are reachable from the unmarked summit – just follow the signs.

The Northern Presidentials: Madison, Adams, Jefferson
The Northern Presidentials: Madison, Adams, Jefferson

When I hiked Crescent, I also hiked over nearby Mt Randolph another peak on the New Hampshire 3,000 footer list. I climbed both peaks via the moderately challenging Crescent Ridge Trail, which becomes much less demanding after one summits Mt Crescent. Passing through tiny Carlton Notch before climbing a false summit and then Mt Randolph, the trail passes through open glades of fern and hobble bush, prime moose habitat, that are crisscrossed by numerous game trails. Water is available from a small stream in Carlton Notch, but must be filtered or purified.

Mt Crescent and Mt Randolph
Mt Crescent and Mt Randolph via Randolph Community Forest Trails

Descending Mt Randolph, which has occluded views (trees in the way), hikers pass by magnificent Lookout Ledge which provides views of Pine Mountain, the Northern Presidentials, Mount Moriah, and the Carter Range. Return by the Pasture Path, which runs through the Randolph Community Forest and abuts the magnificent old homes of this unusual mountain community.

Views of Mount Moriah, The Carters, and Pine Mountain from Lookout Ledge
Views of Mount Moriah, The Carters, and Pine Mountain from Lookout Ledge

The total distance of this hike is 7 miles with 2,000 feet of elevation gain. There is parking for two cars on Randolph Hill Road at the base of the Mt Crescent Trail.

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  1. I don’t believe there’s anything called the Kilkenny Range, though? Pliny, Starr King and Waumbek are in the Pliny Range, and the rest of the peaks mentioned are in the Pilot Range (The Weeks’ may be separate from both).

  2. In the realm of great views for modest effort I hiked the Sugar Loaf peaks near Zealand Notch last weekend. It was a great outing. That’s a good trail to introduce new hikers to what White Mountain trails are like without scaring them off with a great reward at the end.. Lots of people having a great time on the trail that day. Good to see lots of young people. I’ll have to try this one though. I’m with you, I like the Pliny/Kilkenny region, wild and really beautiful.

    • Never been to the Sugarloafs, but it’s on my short list. There are lots of fantastic hikes in the Whites under 4000 feet. Unfortunately you only discover them after you’ve finished your 4’s. There’s also a South Sugarloaf, BTW. I plan to do all three one of these days.

  3. Damn you, Philip! This is a favorite, quiet escape for us. :-). And you are right about that view. We’ve encountered many a moose on that web of trails in this area.

    • I mean to say that you are right about the “views”, but that view toward the Pliny Range is as unique a look at that string of mountains as it gets. And it looks so lush this time of year with all that green.

    • There are an amazing number of moose trails going through Carlton Notch. You can often see Moose on the west side of Mt Randolph by following the Underhill Trail, which should be probably be renamed the Under-Water Trail because it’s so muddy at lower elevations! A great place.

      • The Underhill Trail is named after Miriam Underhill who lived in Randolph and was a world-rekowned climber including Switzerland on ice, climbs in the Dlmites. She was a pilot ever if manless climbing and took part in the 1st as ent by an all-women group of the Matterhorn. Suggest you read her book, Give Me the Hills.

  4. Looks like a great hike! The fantastic views of the Presidentials remind me of the views from Mt. Martha and Owl’s Head. Are you sure that you were looking at ski trails on Sugarloaf? Might it have been Sunday River? Sugarloaf’s ski trails are on the north side of the mountain, and Sugarloaf is so much further north, plus there are some significant mountain ranges in between.

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