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A quick, easy hike to Holt’s Ledge they said…
Research on the internet brought up search after search, rating the Holt’s Ledge hike as an easy, couple hour hike that will show you the beauty of the New Hampshire mountains and valleys…and it does! But…
Holt’s Ledge Hike in Lyme, New Hampshire
One thing is for sure when you get to the top, the view from Holt’s Ledge is amazing!
It’s worth the hike, no matter the difficulty. Located in Lyme, New Hampshire, Holt’s Ledge is a small section of the Appalachian trail. It can be accessed at a trailhead near Dartmouth Skiway, on the Grafton Turnpike.
You can park your car at Dartmouth Skiway nearest the ‘Hiking” pole sign at the end of the parking lot (to the left side).
A short walk down the street to the trailhead and you’ll soon see that bringing the rolling cooler and baby stroller was a bad idea. Hike up the stairs and begin your ascent into the forest.
Note: The trailhead is to the left of the parking lot, walking away from Dartmouth Skiway. The trailhead entrance is across the street, and across the street from a Y intersection. It’s quite easy to find and marked by the sign you see above.
Appalachian Trail – Holt’s Ledge
You begin your ascent into the forest by way of a few stairs, you’ll stop to read the signage – complete with bear warnings and other tidbits of information.
You’ll think to yourself, oh the websites said it was an easy hike, another 100 yards and it should level off a little bit and the trail will smooth out.
You’ll be wrong.
Then another 100 yards in, you’ll think oh maybe it’ll smooth out around the corner… Stop. turn around and go put your rolling cooler back in your car, and strap the baby to your back.
It’s not the easy stroll you’ve been promised on the hiking websites. It’s not a hard hike, but it’s certainly not an easy stroll where you can push your jogging stroller to the top.
The trail narrows, there are roots, logs and rocks, steep gullies, sharp inclines, and depending on the season, slippery slopes and mud.
With all that being said, the hike is great. Tougher than we thought it was going to be, but great.
We even ventured off to the side-trail and visited the Trapper John Shelter before working our way to Holt’s Ledge.
The views from the top were amazing! You could see for miles and miles. It was worth the hike!
There is also an easier way up, or down as we found out, still not stroller friendly. You can walk the Dartmouth Skiway trails up and down. Follow the link below to see our entire hike, including photos from the top!
Now that you know it’s not actually a cake-walk and you should not wear flip-flops or bring a rolling cooler or stroller, here’s our hiking story…
Holt’s Ledge Hike
It was a beautiful cool, morning and we decided we would take an easy day hike up to Holt’s Ledge. We headed over to Lyme, New Hampshire to explore the portion of the Appalachian trail which is home to Holt’s Ledge and the Trapper John Shelter.
We began by parking at the Dartmouth Skiway parking area. There is designated parking for those who wish to Hike the Appalachian trail from that point. Look for the pole that says “Hiking” nearest the trailhead.
The trailhead is about 1/3rd of a mile from the parking lot. There are also a few spots along the side of the road, but it’s just as easy to park at the skiway.
It was our first time in this hiking area and we didn’t know what to expect. Neither of us had been hiking in years and from what we had previously read, the hike to Holt’s Ledge is an easy one.
Some of the inclines were surprising, considering it was rated as an “easy” trail. But, we’re not avid hikers – so we really didn’t know what to expect.
The trail begins with a little incline into the forest. At the trailhead, you’ll see the Appalachian Trail sign and a little further in you’ll find a bulletin board warning of bear country and other useful information.
Across from the bulletin board, you’ll see a wooden sign for Holt’s Ledge and Trapper John Shelter, complete with mileage indicators.
Out of Shape and Into the Woods
We chose Holt’s Ledge hike because it had been a long time since we’ve been hiking, and according to Dartmouth Outdoors, it’s an “EASY Dayhike”.
We looked at each other and jokingly said “I hope it’s not this steep the entire way up!” as stood at the base to snap a photo of the signage.
If you’re just coming out of winter hibernation, like us, take breaks along the way and ensure you make it to the top. The view from Holt’s Ledge is worth the hike!
Trapper John Shelter
When we reached the Trapper John Shelter sign we felt like we had enough in us make it over there before continuing on to Holt’s Ledge.
The detour over to Trapper John Shelter is 0.3 miles, each way.
We were glad we did hoof it a little because the Trapper John Shelter is a nice little camp area which you can tell is frequented often.
There was a log book located on a shelf inside the shelter which appeared to have quite a few entries.
On the outside of the shelter, there is some unfortunate childish scribbling, obviously done by adults. I don’t know why there’s a need for such nonsense, but there’s a few in every crowd, right?
Anyhow, we hung out at the shelter for a little bit and had a bottle of water. It was a nice cool day, clear skies, and a slight breeze. It really was a perfect day to go hiking!
At the Trapper John Shelter, there is an old stone fireplace standing tall. I can only imagine what the original building might have looked like.
Old Stone Fireplace
I’m not sure if the fireplace is maintained or functional. There is an open fire pit in front of the fireplace.
I would assume that if you’re going to light a fire, to use the open pit and not chance using the stone fireplace as it may not be maintained.
You’ll also find a privy – yes there’s a potty there, apparently.
We didn’t use it, the exterminate jokes written on the side of the shelter were enough for me.
We didn’t venture down to the privy, but we did snap a photo just for you.
After all the excitement of seeing Trapper John Shelter and taking a little break, we made our way back to the main trail and proceeded to hike our way up to Holt’s Ledge.
The Final Stretch
After taking the detour over to Trapper John Shelter, we made our way back up the 0.3 mile trail and connected back onto the main trail which will bring us up to Holt’s Ledge.
From this point to Holt’s Ledge the trail becomes more of a steady incline, and sections of the trail going forward from here are much steeper than the beginning of the trail.
Although you’ll be hiking away, don’t forget to keep your eyes open for wildlife and flowers.
We didn’t see much in the way of wildlife, we did see a squirrel and a few birds. However, there was Lady Slippers lining the trail!
The View From Holt’s Ledge
After stopping a few times along the trail to take a break and enjoy the sites and sounds, we made our way to Holt’s Ledge.
Almost immediately when you get to the top, there’s a little peek-through in the trees where the world opens up. It’s awe-inspiring!
If you’re ready to take in more views, follow the trail to the left to the fenced-off area where the views are incredible!
You can see for miles and it’s a perfect opportunity for you to take a few photos and a great spot to kick back, relax, and enjoy the view!
We spent an hour admiring the view and relaxing. Then we continued on to the left of the trail and found ourselves at the ski slopes.
Dartmouth Ski Slope Trail at Holt’s Ledge
It brought us out at the top of the ski slopes at Dartmouth Skiway.
We decided we would rather walk down the ski slope than the slippery steep inclines we had ventured up.
So, we took the Papoose Trail at the skiway and headed down!
The hike down was nice. We’ve never hiked down a ski slope before so that was interesting in itself. Hiking down Papoose was much easier than the official trail up to Holt’s Ledge.
Papoose trail would be a great way to hike up with the kids. It certainly has a lot less tripping hazards and really steep inclines!
Our total hike time was about 4 hours. It’s 2.2 miles from the base to the top of Holt’s Ledge, plus a 0.6-mile detour to Trapper John Shelter.
All in all, it was about a 4 or 5-mile hike. Figure in little breaks and spending time at each location, you should plan for at least a few hours.
The Holt’s Ledge Appalachian Trail hike was a fun hike with a lot to see. We took our time and enjoyed being outdoors and enjoyed our first hike in a very long time!
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