New Canada Road is a narrow dirt road that is known to many skiers as the short cut to Ragged Mountain Resort. I drove slowly, yet my car still kicked up a lot of dust. Not quite a mile up the road I noticed on the right the sign for the Ragged Mountain Trailhead and at about four miles I had reached the ski area’s parking lot.
Jeremy was already there waiting for me even though I was a few minutes early. He jumped in my car and we turned around and drove back to the trailhead.
We started our hike sometime after 4pm and we decided to go light. I tied a shirt around my waist and I wore a small waist pack (we don’t call them fanny packs anymore okay) containing a water bottle and a few other necessities (headlamp included).
The trail is well blazed with SRK white markers and we were able to follow the trail across an old log landing and past logging roads. The trail soon entered the woods where the foot bed is well worn and the trail is easily recognized.
We climbed and the trail led us in 1.4 miles up to the Buswell Ridge. The Ridge goes up and down and travels over some nice ledge faces. The late afternoon sun was hot and I worked hard to keep up to my faster friend. We passed by the work of some “artist” that had done some rock stacking that were obviously not directional rock cairns.
About half way across the ridge we descended into a deep ravine with high rocky walls. At the bottom, an orange-dot blazed trail descends down the ravine. The guide book says the trail is private and is the Ash Trail but gives no other details. We scrambled up the other side and up back on the ridge. Nearing the top of the West Peak the trail passes near and through a gladed ski trail.
A small rock cairn marking the summit of Ragged Mountain’s West Peak is just in the woods off the trail on the right before descending to the top of the ski area.
We stopped just long to enjoy the big vista at the top of the resort’s six-pack chairlift terminal but the vista was filled with mountains—nearby rocky topped Cardigan and even Franconia’s Ridge.
I guzzled my water and there was a nice cooling breeze on the open summit.
The Ridge Trail continued, leaving the ski area summit area behind the ski patrol shack. Down we went for a mile and then the trail headed up again. There are splendid south facing view ledges and we could see Proctor Academy’s ski hill and far past ever looming large Mount Kearsarge. We continued up and to the high point of West Top that is reached by a short spur path on the left to a narrow ledge with some survey markings on it.
Down again we went until we reached the intersection of the trails to Ragged’s highest peak, Old Top, and the continuation of the SRK Greenway down to the Section 9 southern terminus at Proctor Academy. We had hiked 4 miles at this point.
Although Old Top and its fine ledges were just 4/10ths of a mile away daylight was getting short. Two years ago on a cold and windy day Jeremy and I snowshoed from Proctor Academy to Old Top. I know it’s a sweet summit. As much as I would have liked to continue I knew it was more than I should do so we turned back.
Jeremy led me up and over West Top and then most of the way back up to the ski area before taking a short bushwhack to a ski trail. We hiked up until we connected to another trail and to the ski area’s work road.
We followed the work road down. The sun was low on the horizon and the air was cooler and I was glad to pull on my shirt I had carried along. The hike down went quickly and soon we were back at Jeremy’s truck in the parking lot.
He dropped me off at my car and I am sure he was headed straight to the Danbury Country Store for some chicken tenders or perhaps a slice of pizza. I was hungry too and I was happy to find some supper waiting for me when I arrived home.
The trail from New Canada Road to the ski area’s summit was a first hike up it for us both. The trail is very nice and I can’t believe it took me so long to find it. This trail and the trail up nearby Bog Mountain are described in detail in the AMC Southern New Hampshire Trail Guide.
Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.