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Trees of the Kilkenny Ridge

Gnarled Trees of the Kilkenny
Gnarled Trees of the Kilkenny

I often tell people that the White Mountains are a rain forest to explain the sheer density of trees and vegetation that you find in the forests here. That is certainly the case along the Kilkenny Ridge Trail where the trees are covered in moss and lichen giving the forest a prehistoric feel or one out of a witches story.

The Kilkenny Ridge Trail traverses some of the wildest and most remote scenery in the White Mountains and provides an extended 27 mile route (7,350 feet elevation gain) for backpackers who want to get off the beaten path. Trail maintenance is less frequent here than in the south and the trail is often blocked by blow downs or obscured by (wet) ferns, hobble bush, and spruce saplings, giving the place a very wild feel.

Bearded trees, their branches and trunks festooned with moss and fungus, line the ridgeline, battered by wind and storms. Shrouded in mist, there is scant evidence of human presence or intention.

Trees of the Kilkenny

Trees of the Kilkenney

Trees of the Kilkenny

Trees of the Kilkenny

Kilkenny Ridge Trail


  1. A definite map and compass trail?

    • Jim is right, it’s pretty dense up here along the ridgeline. This is area around Mt Cabot and Waumbek. There are places up here where you can bushwhack – there was a frost a few years ago that killed all the birches at 3,000 feet, which helps open up the woods in some areas, but by and large it’s pretty dense.

  2. Map & Compass? Ha, Ha…I sort of doubt that. There are a few sections similar to this in the ADK’s. These are not areas where you can bushwack easily, if at all. Often, even getting around a blow down is difficult. I well agree that these are really pleasent. The moss is usually damp, and the trees rarely dry. Pick and choose to find a spot with more that one “seat” to take a break. I like these areas, too…

  3. Looks beautiful. A lot like some parts of the Florida Everglades. Most of the Everglades are completely untouched and are just over grown full of tall grass and very dense trees. Also very wet year round. Only difference is that the Everglades is a swamp so everything is usually pretty well submerged, not just wet.

  4. The photos remind me of a section on the AT in the GSMNP, just north of Clingmans Done. I fully expected gnomes to appear from behind a log or root…I know they were watching. :-)

  5. Great pictures of the Kilkenny! I did an almost-traverse going up the northern end of Unknown Pond Trail, and following Kilkenny Ridge Trail south to Waumbek. It was a fantastic, but challenging day. Many blowdowns block and obscure the trail, I even ended up bushwhacking to Middle Weeks after losing the trail. I heard there was some major Irene damage on the Weeks and Terrace, I guess the section on Cabot/Bulge/Horn fared better. Still need to do the northern portion to South Pond, and I’m definitely looking forward to it.


    • I know exactly where you mean (Middle Weeks). If you’re not looking carefully for the yellow blazes there is a bit of a herd path which takes you off the main trail between North and Middle Weeks. I wandered down it by mistake and was also ready to bushwhack the Middle Peak, before my hiking partner backtracked and found the blow-down area where the normal trail forks. We spent some time piling up dead wood on the herd path to make it clear to others that it wasn’t the main path (last September).

      Not much damage to the north other than the last major ice storm which killed off most of the Birch at 3,000 feet. It’s very noticeable though. You’ll enjoy Roger’s ledge. It’s quite an outlook.

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