Walk-In Freezer . . . The Ice Gulch

Date of Hike: 7/12/15

Ice Gulch Path : 2.0 miles  /  Peboamauk Loop:  0.5 miles  /  Ice Gulch Path: 2.0 miles  /  Cook Path: 2.2 miles  /  Randolph Hill Road: 0.5 miles
Total Miles: 7.2 miles (1,530 feet elevation gained)

Trip Report:
-  On Sunday, Whitney and I headed out to do some more of her red-lines.  Today's route would take us through the Ice Gulch, one of the few sub alpine cold-air talus shrublands.  In the gulch is where the vegetation, plants and trees, grow at an extremely slow and stunted rate, usual found thousands feet higher above treeline.  Most of the gulch escapes the sun, and ice and snow can survive well into the summer throughout the boulder field.  It is also one of the most strenuous miles of trail in the White Mountains.
- The hike into the gulch is pretty easy to the Marked Birch, yes a tree with a sign that says 'Marked Birch.'  Since Whitney is red-lining we headed up the Peboamauk Loop then went down the Ice Gulch Path back to the Marked Birch then doubled back.
- The Ice Gulch starts just past Fairy Spring and the Gulch lived up to its reputation.  Many sections felt like walking through a freezer, the temperature was easily twenty degrees cooler in spots, there was ice under the boulders and some snow left in spots, too.  Hiking over the boulder was extremely strenuous and tedious as moss made boulders very slippery and we used extreme caution in spots.  I actually found this harder than the infamous mile in the Mahoosuc Notch!  Still, even with the slow progress Whitney and I made it through relatively unscathed and we both enjoyed the challenging mile through the Ice Gulch.
- Once we emerged from the Ice Gulch we hooked onto the Cook Path where we hiked at a fast pace since a few pesky deer flies were trying to make our lives miserable.  They had been following us and buzzing around our heads throughout most of the day and we had basically had it with them.  The only worse experience I've had with deer flies was years ago in the Adirondacks.
- The Cook Path ends at Randolph Hill Road where we road walked back to the car.  The road walk was pleasant as we passed by some really nice houses with incredible views of Mount Madison, Adams, and the King Ravine to the east.

 The Ice Gulch Path starts on Randolph Hill Road at this picturesque barn

 The Ice Gulch Path travels deep into the woods over moss covered trails

 The Peboamauk Falls

 The ICe Gulch Path has logging going on next to the trail.  There is a short hundred yard section that travels through the logged area

 Fairy Spring, the foot of Ice Gulch

 Whitney heads into the gulch!

 Looking into and out of the Gulch

 Whitney looking for....and finding snow!!!

 After awhile the boulders become covered in moss making for a trickier passage

Looking through the moss covered section of the gulch and some remaining ice!

The Ice Gulch put up a good fight but Whitney is still looking good

Heading out the relatively tame and easy Cook Path

Signs spotted along the way

Route for the day


  1. Love learning about these less well-known places up there. Sounds like a fun trip.

    1. Thanks Jesse. Whitney's red-lining is getting me out to places I might not have gone to, well worth venturing away from the 4,000 footers at times!

  2. Glad to see it's not just me who thinks Ice Gulch is harder than Mahoosuc Notch! If you're interested, here's an old obscure magazine with an article about talus cave discovery and exploration in New England, mentioning a 1000ft. "Nightmare Maze" in Ice Gulch.

    1. Wow, that was a fascinating read, Thanks for sending the link. I had no idea about talus caves and the 'Nightmare Maze' sounds like something I would be afraid to venture into!