Five Must See WMNF Trails – Number 4

Kate Sleeper Trail

This is the second installment. Check back each week as we count down to number one!


The view from South slide is worth the effort

The view from South slide is worth the effort

History: The trail is named for Katherine Sleeper Walden, a dynamic and magnanimous figure in White Mountain history. The breadth of her influence in both social and conservation efforts is extensive, including innkeeper of the Wonalancet Farm and being instrumental in the formation of the Wonalancet Outdoor Club (WODC). Mount Katherine, East & West Sleeper and this trail are all named in her honor.

Official stewardship of the trail returned to its original benefactor, the WODC, in 1993, decided at their annual meeting. At the time, the Forest Service was overburdened with trail work and relinquished it without much ado. Maintenance of the trail, which is labor-intense considering the propensity for blow downs on the ridge, has been under their auspices since.

East Sleeper's summit

East Sleeper’s summit

Beta: Approximately 3.3 miles long, 950 feet of elevation gain from Rollins Trail Junction to Mount Tripyramid Trail.

The trail provides a handy link up for a tour of the eastern peaks of the Sandwich Range. It connects the two prominent peaks surrounding ‘The Bowl’, Passaconaway and Whiteface to the Tripyramids. The path itself traverses Sleeper Ridge, which includes the two peaks of East and West Sleeper (two short spur trails lead to official summits). East Sleeper is on the New England Hundred Highest Peaks List.

Shifting rock, loose footing and steep pitches on South slide

Shifting rock, loose footing and steep pitches on South slide

Yes, this was 'on trail'. Blow downs, overgrowth and root climbs add to the charm.

Yes, this was ‘on trail’.
Blow downs, overgrowth and root climbs add to the charm.

Why: There is no small effort required just to access the Kate Sleeper Trail itself. Each of several approaches is long, but well worth the toil.

Shaping an experience unique to a hiker’s preferences is a key quality of this trail. The juxtaposition of the intensity of sharp South slide of Tripyramid at one end with verdant, mossy grace of the opposite end serves both the thrill seeker and placid trekker alike.

For the scrambler, the South slide end of Kate Sleeper provides a rare view over the Lost Pass, Flat Mountain and Sandwich Dome region. Abundant water at the opposite end of the trail surrounding swampy areas and the Downes Brook drainage create a sublime emerald wonderland of sorts in the warmer seasons. The expanse between feels otherworldly; countless blowdowns, overgrowth, and a distinct feeling of solitude is elevated here. I’ve come upon more moose here than on any other trail in the WMNF.

About The Author

Elizabeth Kane

Elizabeth’s love for the White Mountains is unparalleled. Despite working 40-50 hours/week, she manages to spend every spare minute in the Whites and her knowledge of the trail system is impressive. Her pup, Katahdin has likely logged more hours on the trails and tagged more summits than most do in their lifetime. On any given day, you can find Elizabeth hiking, trail running, fly fishing, climbing, mountain biking, or backpacking. She considers the White Mountains her home and we think that is pretty darn great! We are honored to have Elizabeth and Katahdin as NEM Ambassadors!

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