Hiking Trail Conditions Report
Peaks Mt. Cardigan, Rimrock, Orange Mountain, Crane Mountain, Grafton Knob, Church Mountain, Brown Mountain, NH
Trails: Manning Trail, Holt Trail, Clark Trail, Holt-Clark Cutoff, West Ridge Trail, Skyand Trail, road walk
Date of Hike
Date of Hike: Monday, May 27, 2019
Parking/Access Road Notes
Parking/Access Road Notes: We spotted a vehicle at the AMC Cardigan Lodge -- plenty of room for a couple dozen vehicles because we started mid-afternoon -- and another at Alexandria Four Corners. Parking for a few vehicles on the side of the road at Alexandria Four Corners. (Per AMC Southern New Hampshire Trail Guide, don't block any driveways.) NOTE: the road to the AMC Cardigan Lodge, Shem Valley Road, is quite rutted and eroded, moreso than we've seen it at this time of year for quite some time. 
Surface Conditions
Surface Conditions: Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant 
Recommended Equipment
Recommended Equipment:  
Water Crossing Notes
Water Crossing Notes: Not an issue. 
Trail Maintenance Notes
Trail Maintenance Notes: See notes, below. 
Dog-Related Notes
Dog-Related Notes:  
Bugs: Black flies out in force -- curtailed a bit by the breezy conditions. And, of course, ticks... 
Lost and Found
Lost and Found:  
Comments: The trails headed up Mt. Cardigan were in decent shape, in general.

On the Holt Trail before it splits off near the Alexandria Ski Trail, there's evidence of some work to repair some of the loose steps we noticed last year. (Nice!)

Sadly, the Clark Trail and Holt-Clark Cutoff continue to erode and widen, especially in the past few years. It's the preferred route by most people from the Alexandria side of the mountain, and it sees heavy use. During times when the trails are wet and muddy, more than a few folks walk on side of the trail (and widen it) to avoid the mud. (Saw some folks in low sneakers yesterday doing this.) We don't often use this route, partly because of how busy it is, and it's always a bit of a surprise to see the additional wear and tear on it each year.

West Ridge Trail from summit to Skyland Trail is in fine shape.

Skyland Trail conditions are similar to what we reported on May 18 (two large blowdowns -- one new, one old) -- but, the need for brushing in some sections has increased a bit as plants begin to leaf out: hobblebush in the col between Rimrock and Orange Mountain, as well as raspberry canes and beech saplings from the short steep open section just south of Crane Mountain all the way past Grafton Knob and then through the logged section (from a few years back) in the col between Grafton Knob and Church Mountain.

Short steep section just south of Crane Mountain is pretty slippery right now -- but then, it typically is. (To avoid this, it's easy to bushwhack down the hill to the right of the trail, where the slope is gradual, before doubling back to the left at the bottom of the pitch to meet the trail. Might be an option for a relo to avoid the slippery pitch?)

The Skyland Trail is an under-utilized gem in the area. In 15 years of hiking it, we've seen all of a dozen people on it; while most folks are busy headed up and down Mt. Cardigan, it's possible to hike that peak and then leave the crowds and be on the Skyland Trail in just a few minutes for a few miles of solitude and lovely views back at Mt. Cardigan from Orange Mountain and Crane Mountain.

What a great trail.  
Name: Pancks and Tesco Heaney 
Date Submitted
Date Submitted: 2019-05-28 
Link: http:// 
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