Hike to Holt’s Ledge in Lyme, NH
It was a beautiful cool, spring 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.
Hiking to Holt’s Ledge
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 trail head. The trail head 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 to 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. We were a bit surprised at some of the inclines for what is considered 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 trail head 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
As I said, it’s been a very long time since we had been hiking, which is why we chose the Holt’s Ledge hike. According to Dartmouth Outdoors, it’s an easy day hike. We stood at the base to snap a photo of the signage and looked at each other and jokingly said “I hope it’s not this steep the entire way up!” It is quite steep for the most part. The ground was covered with leaves and slippery as well.
The Holt’s Ledge portion of the Appalachian trail is said to be easy, but don’t wear your sandals, or bring a baby stroller – it’s not a leisurely hike. 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
Although we were feeling a bit out of shape, when we reached the Trapper John Shelter sign we felt like we had enough in us to hike over to Trapper John Shelter and back to the main trail 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. The Trapper John Shelter is a nice little camp area which you can tell is frequented often. There was a logbook 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 spring 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 assume this is from the original building which has long since been removed. I can only imagine what the original building might have looked like.
I’m not sure if the fireplace is maintained or functional. There is an open fire pit in front of the fireplace, so 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.
At Trapper John Shelter, you’ll also find a privy – yes there’s a potty there, apparently. I’m thanking my lucky stars that I didn’t need to use it, as 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.
Holt’s Ledge – What a View!
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 the wildlife and flowers. We didn’t see much in the way of wildlife, we did see a squirrel and a few birds. However, there were some Lady Slippers lining the trail as we proceeded to 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!
After spending an hour relaxing and enjoying the view from the Holt’s Ledge, we decided to meander around and continued to the left side trail. It brought us out at the top of some 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 and less steep than the trail up to Holt’s Ledge.
I imagine, if you’re looking for a way to hike up to Holt’s Ledge with the kids (or an easier hike in general), I would suggest hiking up the Papoose ski trail. I think that would be a fun way to get up to Holt’s Ledge as well!
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’s about a 4 or 5 mile hike. If you figure in little breaks here and there and spending some 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!