Haven't been hiking on Mt Sunapee ( or skiing for that matter ) for years, so out & back along the Newbury Trail to White Ledges sounded kind of interesting.
The distance was as described, about 5.4 miles out & back; the elevation gain was a bit surprising at 2144 ft.
Gallery / slide show
Did a little research and came up with these -
The state park map is a better trail map, but the SKRG site provides some parking information.
NOTE - pay attention to the description on the summary page of how to find the trailhead.
I printed out the map, which gives some confusing information about parking, but nothing useful about where the actual trailhead is. I overlooked the precise description on the summary and spent some time trying to find it.
The parking description is a bit confusing; there is a wide spot off the road right by the trailhead, but the land is all posted around it. Given the friction in some hiking areas I thought it politic to skip that spot, attractive though it was. Sigh.
The Post Office parking lot had 'customer only' signs, but a check with one of the businesses confirmed that it would be OK to park there. Weekday, preseason. Don't know how friendly the parking there would be in a few weeks.
So. Parked and a quarter mile road walk and into the woods on this hot sunny day...
The trail goes into the woods , immediately drops a little and crosses a stream. Easy rock hop today. Then the trail starts to ascend. The ascent is a little steep in a couple places but generally feels less steep than it actually is, being steady with good footing. A couple places follow dry streambeds, and could be a bit slick if wet; particularly a couple spots that use some short ledge - probably nearly waterfalls in wet weather, but there are herd paths around these spots.
Shortly along ( about .5 mile) there is a cairn and a reflector which look like markers to the 'Eagles Nest' outlook. I didnt even see this on the way up, but I wasnt planning to go there, so wasnt paying close attention. If you want to do the side trip, look for the cairn. The side path itself is not very wide or obvious.
Mosquitoes were pretty thick, but not bad as long as I kept moving.
The trail reaches a large ledge visible thru the trees, and skirts around this to the Rim Trail junction ( well signed ). The ledge is the most scenic part of the trail, having a somewhat primeval feel to it. At the junction, the Newbury trail wraps around the ledge line and ascends more sharply.
The ledge looks like it would be steep enough that there might be outlooks along its top; if there are, the trail avoids them. There are a couple of minor outlooks along the trail as it works its way up the shoulder of the South Peak, but not particularly spectacular. Given the mosquitoes, I just took a quick look and didnt even get out the camera.
Once reaching the shoulder, the trail levels considerably. Reminded me a bit of the Davis Path skirting the summit of Resolution. But the elevation and maintenance of this section has resulted in some vegetation pushing into the path , lending it a feel more like that of the Squam region Crawford-Ridgepole trail. A tight treadway, encroaching mooseberry, wooded - no views but with occasional glimpses of the Sunapee summit.
This section of trail seemed to take forever. Maybe because i was tired. I began thinking maybe I'd missed the Lake Solitude junction ( named the Jack & June junction in honor of two trail advocates). But finally I arrived at the junction, which had an obvious sign. I was a little unclear where the White Ledges were from this point, having done a poor job of homework. But the sharp rocky ascent away from the junction seemed more likely to break onto ledges than the wooded descent toward the lake, so that was the direction I decided to take.
At the Jack and June Junction something odd happened. I stopped to puzzle out the next steps, and it was as though a door had slammed on the mosquitoes; they were gone. Unfortunately they were replaced by a horde of very aggressive black flies. Dawdling was not an option.
So - a quick exit up the trail, shortly broke out on the White Ledge, and had a nice breeze. Very nice view, but even with the breeze the flies forced me to break out my shell and my hat and headnet. Very surprised at the tenacity and flying strength of the flies. I'm no stranger to black flies, but these were very bad. I'm not often driven off a ledge outlook, especially when there is a good breeze!
From here, an uneventful descent, except to note once again when I had traversed from the south western exposure to the north side of the peak shoulder the mosquitoes took over. This is the sharpest bug boundary I remember ever experiencing.
So, not many pictures on this trip. The White Ledge was worth visiting , reminiscent of Zeacliff and North Kinsman, and a decent trail. A good day hike, and a good potential for some point-to-points with car spots. I'll be back. After bug season.