Square Ledge & Passaconaway | 10/16/22
Updated: Nov 6, 2022
After breakfast at the Miss Lyndonville Diner, Michelle went back to Boston, and Ryan and I made our way to the 112. Though we ached to return to the North Country, we were forced south for a “quick hike” before retrieving my car from Lincoln Woods, where it had been pointlessly left behind for a car spot days earlier.
We talked about East Osceola, Livermore Trail, and even scrapping it all for Caps Ridge, but eventually settled on Square Ledge. We got to the trailhead embarrassingly late and started up Oliverian Notch Trail to the junction which took us a sluggish 40 minutes even though it was all flat and less than 2 miles. In combination with having no carbohydrates in my body and having had a long previous day, I was starting to doubt the kind of day I was to have.
Up to this intersection were a couple of muddy spots, a bustling stream next to us, and two water crossings that were doable as thoughtful rock hops. At the junction with Passaconaway Cutoff, we bore right and the sugars we consumed at the fork began helping both of us as we rolled out a series of strange topics that only Ryan and I could manage to conjure up after spending the last several days together.
The stretch up to Square Ledge Trail gained pleasantly, showed signs of moderate traffic and wasn’t too muddy. At the Square Ledge Trail, I gave in to Ryan’s encouragement and kept up towards the Walden Trail to hit Passaconaway, which I needed redemption on anyways. I was worried after looking up at how much we had to gain from where we were, but none of the elevation gains felt dangerous or impractical, I enjoyed this route!
When we got up to the Walden Trail, I got to see a sample of why it is sometimes regarded as the hardest trail in the Ferncroft vicinity as we scrambled up the right side of the Passaconoway loop. Though scrambly, I thought that this section was super fun and even as we came down the other side of the loop, which I did 2 years ago, I had almost no recollection of it.
Making our way back to the actual Square Ledge, we gained and lost until coming up on the big cliff that the feature forms and at first missed the outlook. Once we started going down a lot, Ryan made the call to turn around, sure that we had missed our point. He was right and I was in disbelief that a (retired) 52 With a View wasn’t marked with a view sign.
Coming down from the ledge took a lot longer than I would’ve liked, but the east side of the Square Ledge Trail was a steep drop down a leaf gully that presented tripping obstacles at each step. In the moment, I’d wished we’d come up this way rather than descend it, but the way we went up did make it more motivating to do Passaconaway, so you win some and lose some.
After the leaf gully aside the ledge, we looked back through the trees on the Square Ledge Branch Trail and were just blown away by how towering the Ledge was. Needless to say, Ry went searching in his North Conway Rock Climbing guidebook for a long time after dinner.
When we got back to Oliverian Brook Trail, we had a couple more water crossings, and one required shoes off. However, I had already given up on the previous water crossing so I just walked straight through it with no problem. Other than this, the rest of the trail was almost a sidewalk. When we got back to familiar territory on the stick part of our lollipop, we had 20 minutes to sunset, pretty much just like yesterday, and cruised to a finish just shortly after the sun had gone down. So much for a “short hike.”
Final Stats: 12.08 miles | 2,959 gain | 0 frogs