Bald Ledge High Above Winona Lake – It’s A Nice Walk
by Amy Patenaude Outdoor/Ski Writer
Not far from downtown Ashland and actually in New Hampton is Sky Pond and Sky Pond State Forest. I followed the directions given to me by a friend. I later learned that this trail is included in the AMC’s Southern New Hampshire Trail Guide.
I knew I was getting close to Sky Pond when the paved road turned into a gravel road and I saw a brown and white sign of a canoe pointing the way to the boat launch.
Before reaching the end of the maintained portion of Sky Pond Road the boat launch is clearly on the right. There is lots of room to park and there are decent composting toilets. I took a peek at the pretty pond and learned at the nearby kiosk that only fly-fishing is allowed.
No one else was around but I made sure that my car was far out of the way if anyone arrived to unload a canoe.
I walked back up to the road and a private drive swings left but the Sky Pond Road continues past a sign that reads “Pass At Your Own Risk, class 6 road not maintained”. There is a rather large wooden sign on the left that boasts in big yellow letters “Bald Ledge Trail”. No arrows or distance markers just “Bald Ledge Trail”.
I walked down the old road less than a quarter mile and on my left was an orange metal locked gate with a well-worn foot path around it. I followed the path and it continued down an old woods road. The path actually goes downhill for a ways and in places the brushy growth is making the old road narrow.
Bolted to a post a small sign with red letters and an arrow pointing right read “Bald Ledge” and the foot path obeyed. The path continues up through nice pine and spruce to reach the open ledge face of Bald Ledge.
Wow! How could I have never been here before? A nice walk of less of only 8/10th of a mile to a grand vista that reaches over Winona Lake all the way past Red Hill and over to the Squam, Sandwich and Ossipee Ranges. From another vantage I could see the Belknap Mountains. Far below on the Winona’s dark water I could see a couple of people fishing from a small boat. I wish I had the time to spend hours on this perch.
I had missed the sunrise by hours and the early hazy heavy morning air dulled the vista a little but it was a terrific bargain for an easy 20 minute walk. I think I could see the pieces of the blue waters of the Lakes of Squam, Waukewan and Winnipesaukee. Next time I am in the neighborhood on a crystal clear day I am definitely going to do this fun hike again.
At the end of the ledgy area I noticed another blazed path headed north and down. I followed it for a couple of tenths of a mile and passed by one small open ledge face. I decided I didn’t want to go all the way down to Lake Winona so I turned around and went back. I later learned that this less used path originates from Lake Road and is longer and quite steep and is not in the guide book.
I retraced my steps back to my car and enjoyed the easy terrain and footing. Back at the pond I watched the sun sparkling on the water for a few minutes. I didn’t see any fish jumping but I bet they’re in there swimming.