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05 April 2014

Wintertime Trek to Ledges along the Inlook Trail, and a Visit to Dome Rock


Destinations: Ledges along the Inlook Trail; Dome Rock
Trails Used: Valley Way; Inlook Trail; Fallsway


A hike that falls into the category of "small" is a trek to the ledges along the Inlook Trail combined with a visit to Dome Rock.  However, be advised that although the hiking distance is short (just over 3 miles round-trip), there is an overall elevation gain of just over 1,400 ft.  Over 800 ft of that elevation gain is on the 0.7 mile long Inlook Trail.  Although it has a few easygoing segments, it is mostly steep!

The Inlook Trail has an interesting history.  The following is quoted from the guidebook "Randolph Paths" published by the Randolph Mountain Club (RMC).

"Cut by RMC volunteers under the direction of Louis F. Cutter in 1932, it follows a route similar to an earlier trail called Inlook and Outlook that was destroyed by lumbering between 1903-6.  It features a series of open ledges, created by a 1921 forest fire on lower Gordon Ridge . . . This is Randolph's only low elevation trail that stays on open ledges for a significant distance.  Many consider it to be one of RMC's most scenic paths."

The Inlook Trail begins about a mile from the huge trailhead on US-2 known as Appalachia.  There are a variety of trail combinations that can be taken to arrive at the Inlook Trail.  On this particular trek, I used the Valley Way for the outbound portion of my trek, and then returned to the Appalachia trailhead via the Fallsway Trail.

Sign at beginning of Inlook Trail
What I consider as the 'prize view' of this trek is the vista looking up Snyder Brook Valley toward Mt. Madison and Mt. Adams
Arrival at Dome Rock.  A portion of the nearby Crescent Range is seen at upper left of photo. (For geology enthusiasts, beneath the snowpack is a large rock outcropping with folded schists and quartzites.)
An eastward view from Dome Rock with nearby Pine Mountain at upper right, and peaks in Mahoosuc Range on distant horizon
Photo shows one of many steep pitches along the Inlook Trail where it traverses the Gordon Ridge
Photo shows one of the few flat spots along the Inlook Trail.  It also serves to illustrate the firm "bullet-proof" snowpack that was experienced on the day of my trek.  The imprint of my snowshoes is barely noticeable.
In contrast to previous photo, this snapshot of me was taken a few years ago by Steve Smith as we hiked the Inlook Trail when covered by a deep layer of powdery snow.
As mentioned at beginning of this report, the Fallsway Trail was incorporated into the return leg of my trek.  All the falls along this route were frozen and unrecognizable, as illustrated by this snapshot taken at Gordon Fall.

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