Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway trail blaze (photo by Mark Malnati)

Ragged Mtn. and Balanced Rock
Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway

Destinations:  Ragged Mtn. West Peak (2225'), Balanced Rock
Trails:  Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway, Ragged Mountain Trail, Ridge Trail, West Ridge Trail, Balanced Rock Trail
Region:  NH - Central West  
Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway
Location:  Wilmot, NH
Rating:  Moderate  
Features:  Summit, views
Distance:  6.3 miles  
Elevation Gain:  1400 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Typical: 3:55  
Outing Duration:  Typical: 6:00  
Season:  Spring
Hike Date:  04/18/2009 (Saturday)  
Author:  Deb Hann
Companion:  Twelve SDHers

Ragged Mountain (photo by Mark Malnati)

Route Summary   

This is a point-to-point hike across Ragged Mountain to its West Peak where the Ragged Mountain Ski Area is located. There is some ridge walking with nice views of Newfound Lake, Mount Cardigan, and Mount Moosilauke.

The entire route follows Section 9 of the Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway (SRKG). The SRKG is indicated by tall white trapezoid-shaped metal markers with an SRKG designation at the base of the sign in green. When there's a turn in the trail, the signs will point in the direction to be followed. Since the SRKG coincides with pre-existing paths, you will see other trail names and types of blazes during your trek. Follow the signs and blazes carefully to stay on track.

Ascent to Ragged Mountain West Peak:
  • Pick up the Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway (SRKG), also called Ragged Mountain Trail, on the east side of New Canada Road (the right-hand side when accessing New Canada Road from Route 4).
  • Climb for 1.3 miles which will bring you to Buswell Ridge.
  • Turn left onto Ridge Trail and follow the undulating path for 1.4 miles until reaching the Ragged Mountain Ski Area on West Peak. This segment of trail is marked by metal rectangles; be sure to avoid Ash Trail which leaves to the right after 0.7 mile on Ridge Trail. During this hike on semi-open ledges, watch for views south to Mount Kearsarge and Bradley Lake.
  • Enjoy the great views from the ski lift area. Looking north to northeast, the vista encompasses Cardigan Mountain, Bog Pond, the White Mountains (including Mount Moosilauke), and Newfound Lake.

  • Hike away from the summit by turning to the right of the ski patrol building and reentering the woods beneath the power lines on the SRKG, also referred to as West Ridge Trail in this section.
  • SDH on the trail (photo by Mark Malnati)
  • Look for a short side path on the right, 1.1 miles from the ski area. Take the spur to check out great views to the south.
  • Hike for another 0.3 mile on the main trail which will bring you to some open ledges, called West Top, with views that include Mounts Kearsarge and Sunapee.
  • About 70 yards later will be a junction with the yellow-blazed Mountain Trail on the right; keep straight ahead to stay on the SRKG.
  • Less than 0.1 mile later you will reach another trail junction. Here West Ridge Trail ends, East Ridge Trail goes left, and Balanced Rock Trail turns right. The SRKG route turns right to follow Balanced Rock Trail. But if you first wish to make a detour, follow East Ridge Trail for 0.4 mile which will bring you to the open ledges of Old Top (2257'), an eastern knob on Ragged Mountain, where there are excellent views to the north, and then return to the junction.
  • From the junction of West Ridge Trail, East Ridge Trail, and Balanced Rock Trail, turn right downhill on Balanced Rock Trail.
  • After 0.2 mile look for a spur on the left and follow it for 0.1 mile to reach a 6- by 19-foot glacial erratic perched on a narrow ledge. Continue 50 yards beyond the boulder for views of Andover, Bradley Lake, and Mount Kearsarge.
  • Upon returning to the main trail, continue downhill for 0.6 mile until reaching a fork where a large sign says, "Stop". Veer left/straight here, following the SRKG blazes.
  • After 0.6 mile, keep an eye out for a smaller path on the right and turn here as indicated by the SRKG blazes (but not by a worded sign).
  • Keep following the blazes carefully through several turns and junctions for the final 0.5 mile which will bring you to Proctor Academy where you should have spotted a car before starting this hike.

Deer jawbone (photo by Mark Malnati)

Place         Split
New Canada Road Trailhead (1010') 0.0 0.0
Ragged Mtn. West Peak summit (2225') 2.7 2.7
Balanced Rock spur 1.7 4.4
Proctor Academy Trailhead (650') 1.9 6.3

Yellow violet (photo by Mark Malnati)


Trail map of hike route to Ragged Mountain on the Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway (map by Webmaster)


  Trail Guide   

Twelve hikers met in Andover at Proctor Academy. We spotted cars then headed to the trailhead on New Canada Road to start our day. After a vigorous 2.7-mile hike to the summit of Ragged Mountain, we lunched at/on the ski lift. We found few patches of snow or ice left and were relieved to avoid postholing. We were treated to nice views of Mount Kearsarge, Mount Sunapee, and even Mount Ascutney in Vermont.

View south (photo by Mark Malnati)

We were pleased the trail offers so many different landscapes: ledges, bogs, cols, and expansive vistas. Sally spotted sillimanite (a mineral) on the surface of a few boulders – very "Land Before Time". Other interesting sights included a deer jawbone, fox scat, turkey tail fungi – which resembles the colors of a fanned-out turkey's tail – and yellow violet blooms standing out sharply against the brown leaves on the ground. Only one Band-Aid met one elbow. Most agreed it was a good spring hike, although it felt like more than six miles due to the ruggedness of the trail!

We had to retrace our steps once when we got off the route; but, thanks to Jack and his GPS, we did not have to backtrack too far. Pizza and beverages were easy to find on Main Street (always where teenagers are to be found!). The rain held out before we went our separate ways. Another great day on the trail!

Fox scat (photo by Mark Malnati)



NH - Central West

  Driving Directions   

This is a point-to-point hike starting in Wilmot, New Hampshire and ending in Andover, New Hampshire. Cars must be spotted at each trailhead, or other transportation arrangements made, before beginning the trek.

Turkey Tail fungi (photo by Mark Malnati) It's a good idea to first drop as many car(s) as possible in Andover where there is more space for parking, and then proceed in as few cars as possible to the start of the hike in Wilmot.

The ending point of the hike is at the Farrell Field House of Proctor Academy in Andover:
  • From Rt. 4 in Andover, just west of the town center, turn north onto Field House Lane and bear left into the parking lot.
  • The trails starts on a signed gravel driveway at the far left corner of the parking lot, to the right the tennis courts. But we will be starting this point-to-point hike from the New Canada Road trailhead (see below).
  • If needed, additional parking may be found on the opposite side of Rt. 4 near the white-fenced playing fields.

The starting point of the hike is on New Canada Road in Wilmot:
  • From Proctor Academy, head west on Rt. 4.
  • Upon reaching the junction of Routes 4 and 11, continue on Rt. 4 West for another 1.9 miles.
  • Turn right onto New Canada Road.
  • Follow New Canada Road for 0.9 mile which will bring you to the SRKG trailheads on either side of the road.
  • Parking for 4 cars is available on the left-hand side of the road.
  • Follow the SRKG trail to the east, on the right-hand side of the road at a gated logging road.

View northeast (photo by Mark Malnati)

About Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway   

The Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway (SRKG) is a 75-mile "emerald necklace" (in the words of the SRKG Coalition) hiking trail located about 25 miles northwest of Concord, New Hampshire. This route forms a big Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway logo (photo by Webmaster) loop that can be hiked via fourteen point-to-point dayhikes ranging from 4–9 miles.

The name of the greenway comes from the fact that the trail hikes over the summits of Mount Sunapee (2726'), Ragged Mountain (2225'), and Mount Kearsarge (2930'). Lake Sunapee is completely within this "necklace" and one section of the SRKG passes by its southern tip. The "Greenway" part of the name comes from the fact that the trail passes through forests and areas that for the most part have seen little development.

The Greenway was first conceived in 1990 and relies heavily on the goodwill of the private landowners whose property it passes over. Please respect their generosity by parking responsibly, staying on the trail, not littering, and picking up any stray trash you happen to see during your walk. The SRKG passes through ten New Hampshire towns: Andover, Danbury, Goshen, Newbury, New London, Springfield, Sunapee, Sutton, Warner, and Wilmot.

Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway Property Use Guidelines   

  • Dogs are not allowed.
  • Camping is not allowed.

SDH on the trail (photo by Mark Malnati)

More Ragged Mtn. and Greenway Trail Reports   


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