Black Cap Mountain & Ripley Falls
Updated: Nov 6, 2022
Our alarm rang promptly at 7 AM, something I can't quite say I'm used to for an early-start hiking morning. However, on this sunny Sunday morning, we were centrally located in North Conway and Ryan & I both had some epic missions to attend. Before I knew it, he was packing up the peanut butter energy bites I made earlier that week, and we were heading our separate ways, him to Pinkham Notch and myself towards the Conway Town Forest.
I had discovered the Conway Town Forest the day before, where I traced a small loop around Pudding Pond, and noticed that there was a 9-mile hike that started in the same place. I was worried about it, namely because this was the astronomically longer way to complete Black Cap and I assumed the trail would not have been widely traveled or reported on. Much to my surprise, my last minute check of netrailconditions.org ended up showing me the perfect trail report of exactly what I was planning and it looked promising.
After stalling my hike with an amazing breakfast from the Local Grocer, I made my 8-minute drive to the trailhead and set off to complete Black Cap via the Black Cap Connector trail. The trail started in the town forest and felt exactly like one up until the open ledges at the top. The trail gained steadily, with a handful of flatter sections in the last 1.5 before the top, and ultimately had me gain 2,002 feet over 9 miles round trip when it was all said and done.
The majority of the trail was fairly open and consisted of a handful of muddy spots that weren't bad in my all-wheel-drive hiking boots. I may, however, have been an unhappy hiker had I chosen to venture off in a lower trail shoe that didn't allow me to plow through wet leaves and moderately deep mud. Though the hike wasn't necessarily boring, the forest remained open and quiet for the entire hike. Despite the animal observing cameras all the way up the trail, the only creatures I saw all day were a mountain biker & a cheery red squirrel... until of course I saw a bear on the highway that night.
Much to my surprise, Ryan and I finished our quests of the day around the same time and made a last minute trek over to Ripley Falls, which was flowing mightily. The hike in was brief and took us just 10 or 15 minutes. I found it hard to believe I had yet to have been to such an accessible spot in the Whites, but it certainly was the perfect way to close out such a memorable weekend in North Conway.