Randolph is a small town in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, on the north side of the Presidential Range. Home of the Randolph Mountain Club, the early residents of Randolph were renowned trail builders, responsible for the construction of the White Mountain’s earliest and toughest hiking trails.
One of my hiking projects over the past year has been to hike the spider web of trails, called pleasure paths, that run through the town and the adjacent Randolph Community Forest. The hiking and backpacking here is just fabulous, but is more moderate than the steep trails running up to the Northern Presidential Peaks on Mt Madison, Adams, and Jefferson, which are also maintained and overseen by the Randolph Mountain Club’s trail crew.
The term pleasure paths sounds a bit suspicious, but there are many smaller hiking trails in the White Mountains that fall under its umbrella in the Pinkham Notch and Randolph Area. Built for scenic strolls, the pleasure paths are ideal for short hikes and families. Many lead to interesting viewpoints and scenic spots that surprisingly few 4000 footer peakbaggers ever visit. Their loss, since these smaller trails have great historical significance and a beauty equal to the high peaks.
My favorite destination in Randoph is Lookout Ledge, which has a direct line of sight into King Ravine on Mt Adams. The site of a large ledge, you can sit there in the sun or retreat a short distance to a log bench and sit in the shade. I’ve been there in spring, summer, fall, and winter and the view never fails to impress me. But there are many other aesthetic destinations in Randolph Community Forest, which has a charm all it’s own.
Recommended Loop Hikes
I recommend you get the Randolph Paths Guidebook and Waterproof Map to hike in the Randolph Community Forest. It’s the best map available for this region of the White Mountains. Here are a few nice routes that you can hike in Randolph if you’re looking for inspiration. These are all loop hikes as well, so you don’t have to spot a car or run a shuttle.
- Grassy Lane – Pasture Path – Four Soldiers Path – Crescent Ridge Trail – Pasture Path to Lookout Ledge – Grassy Lane
- Nepalese Bridge – Mossy Glen – Bee Line – Burnbrae Path
- Ledge Trail to Lookout Ledge – Pasture Path – Notchway – Ledge Trail
- Bee Line at the Ravine House Site – Pasture Path – The Diagonal – Mossy Glen – Nepalese Bridge
- Grassy Lane – Pasture Path – Crescent Ridge Trail – Mt Crescent Trail – Castleview Loop – Carlton Notch Trail
- Ice Gulch Path – Cook Path – Boothman Spring Cutoff – Short Road Walk