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Hedegehog Mtn. (Albany) and East Ledges
Hedgehog Mtn. (Albany) (2532')
NH - Central East
White Mountain National Forest, Sandwich Range Wilderness
Summit, views, ledges, rock scrambles, loop hike
1450 feet (cumulative)
Sunny, 60+ degrees
We hiked the UNH Trail in a clockwise loop, visiting the East Ledges, Hedgehog Mountain's summit, and finally Allen's Ledge.
Follow Downes Brook Trail for just 60 yards, then turn left onto UNH Trail.
After 0.2 mile on an old railroad grade, you will reach the loop's fork.
Continue straight to follow the loop in a clockwise direction, avoiding the right-hand uphill leg which will be the return route.
After an additional 0.2 mile on the railroad grade, the trail turns to the right to begin the uphill climb.
You will cross White Brook 0.9 mile later.
You will reach the open East Ledges 0.7 mile uphill from the brook crossing.
Walk across the ledges and continue along UNH Trail to reach the summit of Hedgehog Mountain 0.9 mile later.
Descend from the peak down the opposite side from the ascent and 0.8 mile later, at a left turn in the trail, turn right to follow a signed spur path steeply up 60 yards to reach Allen's Ledge. By carefully descending to a lower ledge perch at the end of the spur, you will be able to see a wide view to the east and northeast.
Back on the main trail, continue the descent and return to the railroad grade and loop fork after 0.9 mile.
Turn left and follow the railroad grade for 0.2 back to its junction with Downes Brook Trail.
Finally, turn right to quickly reach the parking lot.
Downes Brook Trail parking lot (1250')
East Ledges (2300')
Hedgehog Mtn. summit
Allen's Ledge (1900')
Downes Brook Trail parking lot (1250')
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The group (eighteen Dayhikers and three woman's best friends) of us who climbed Hedgehog Mountain in Albany, New Hampshire (not to be confused with the Hedgehog in Wonalancet) by way of the UNH Trail met at the Downes Brook Trail parking lot at 10:30 a.m. Since we had a large showing, we decided to split the crowd in two with the first group of about ten starting up five minutes ahead and the remainder traveling at their own pace behind.
The grade for this loop is mostly moderate and provides a lot of great views for a relatively small amount of effort; however, at this time of year with the snow persisting, conditions made the hike more challenging. We used a mixture of snowshoes, Stabilicers, yak trax, and trekking poles.
We chose to hike in a clockwise direction to take advantage of the views while descending from the summit in a northerly direction which include Mount Washington and the Presidential Range.
The weather was sunny with the temperature at our 11 a.m. start in the middle 60's and rising. Given significant snow on our mostly north-facing route, often postholing conditions were rampant for those who didn't stay on the raised section of consolidated snow: think balance beam competition.
Following the loop in the clockwise direction we made our way to the beautiful East Slabs where we took a lunch break on a ledge with fine views of Mount Chocorua to the east. After lunch, we navigated the rock ledges above east-facing cliffs that led to a steeper section with a mix of "balance-beam" snow and rock that brought us to the summit that provides fine views to the west.
After regrouping at the summit, we followed the trail north with a view of Mount Washington in the distance. Once off the summit ledges we jumped onto the balance beam again for the final two miles to our vehicles.
Many of us who hiked on Saturday found the conditions somewhat challenging but the hike itself geologically beautiful. Our time on the hike was greater than the
AMC guide book
time (3:10) because the conditions made for slow traveling. Many mentioned that they'd like to do it again after the snow has melted. On a good day they will find a trail with
beauty but with much greater solitude.
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The trail is located off the south side of Kancamagus Highway (Rt. 112) at the Downes Brook Trail parking lot which is located across the road from the WMNF Passaconaway Campground.
Heading east on Kancamagus Highway:
Passaconaway Campground will be on the left and the Downes Brook parking area on the right. This is about 22 miles east of the junction of Rt. 112 with I-93 in Lincoln.
If you see Bear Notch Road on the left, then you have gone about two miles too far.
Heading west on Kancamagus Highway:
Passaconaway Campground will be on the right and the Downes Brook parking area on the left. This is about 14 miles west of the junction of Rt. 112 with Rt. 16 in Conway.
Passaconaway Campground is about two miles west of Bear Notch Road also on the right.
A parking permit is required to park at White Mountain National Forest trailheads and parking areas. You can purchase a WMNF permit from the forest service and other vendors and can also pay-by-the-day using self-service kiosks located in many parking areas.
For more information on parking passes please refer to the
White Mountain National Forest website
$3 per day
$5 for a week-long pass
$20 for a year-long pass
$25 for two year-long passes (one household/two cars)
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