Castle Ravine Trail
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CONTRIBUTION BY ELIZABETH KANE
History: The Castle Ravine trail was first cut by the Randolph Mountain Club between 1916 and 1922 and still remains under their stewardship. As with many WMNF trails, the long reach of the logging industry spelled disaster for the virgin forests of this ravine. The area was heavily logged in the late 1800s/early 1900s and the mark of destruction is still evident on the lower reaches of this trail.
A 1991 slide shifted the route of the trail on the headwall. The path can be difficult to follow, so take care to follow paint blazes and cairns.
A 2010 avalanche dumped a massive amount of debris across the trail on an unmistakable section below the headwall of difficult footing over mats of branches and logs.
Beta: Approximately 2.8 miles long, 2800 feet of elevation gain from Israel Ridge Path junction to Cornice junction.
The Castle Ravine trail provides a tour of the stunning and wild Castle Ravine, a glacial gulf sandwiched by Israel Ridge on the East and Castellated Ridge on the West. Both Mounts Jefferson and Adams are easily accessible from the terminus of this trail near Edmands Col, and the nearby RMC camps provide enticing options for shelter should one prefer to explore this area in a multi-day trip.
Why: Castle Ravine is perhaps one of the least traveled cirques in the Presidentials. The impression of its remote and rugged persona is riveting to most any trekker and its envelopment by two gorgeous and rocky ridges creates a feeling of total immersion. The sound of rushing water is a near constant companion on this trail until you emerge at the base of the headwall and a series of miniature cascades adds charm. The headwall views are spectacular in every direction- Castellated Ridge, Mount Bowman, Israel Ridge, and the outlet of the ravine are all equally enchanting. This entire experience is a veritable feast for the senses.
Be prepared for several river crossings and hand over foot climbing over large boulders and talus on this challenging trail. Most often it is recommended for ascent rather than descent.
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