Cathedral Ledge Lookout

Bartlett, New Hampshire
Cathedral Ledge is a striking lookout etched into the landscapes of North Conway, New Hampshire by the retreat of the last ice age.
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About This Location

Perched majestically near North Conway, New Hampshire, Cathedral Ledge is a striking lookout etched into the landscape by the retreat of the last ice age, standing tall at 700 feet. An unmistakable landmark, visible from Route 16 through North Conway Village, Cathedral Ledge offers a panoramic spectacle from Saco River Valley to the White Mountains, captivating the hearts of experienced climbers, tourists, and hikers alike.

For those eager to savor the vistas without breaking a sweat, a mile-long auto road unfurls to the summit. Open on weekends from Memorial Day and daily between late June to Labor Day, the well-maintained road provides access to the breathtaking views. Operating from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, with gates closing at 8:00 pm, the Auto Road beckons visitors into a world of natural splendor. Parking costs $5 and the overlook area does feature a restroom, trash cans, and some picnic tables. During the off-season, the auto road is sometimes closed especially when snowfall occurs. The auto road is not staffed or maintained after Labor Day. Amenities are also not available during the off-season.

Hiking enthusiasts and off-season adventurers gravitate toward the Cathedral Ledge from Echo Lake Trail. This 2.8-mile trek commences at the Echo Lake parking lot, guiding hikers up the elevation gain of 669 feet to the summit of Cathedral Ledge. Rated as moderate, the trail poses a challenge with steep sections, ensuring a rewarding ascent. Alternatively, hikers can choose the Cathedral Ledge Auto Road for a less strenuous but equally enchanting journey.

Cathedral Ledge is a haven for climbers, offering a diverse range of challenges from long multi-pitch routes to face climbs and splitter cracks. The Central Wall boasts soaring Yosemite-style assistance routes, while the North End provides modest practice climbs. It’s a rock-climbing utopia where every climber, regardless of skill level, discovers routes that resonate with their passion.

Steeped in history, Cathedral Ledge, along with White Horse Ledge, was purchased for $1,000 by a group of local residents and visitors in 1899. Subsequently deeded to the state of New Hampshire, these natural wonders became a testament to the community’s dedication to preserving their cherished landscapes. In 1943, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests joined forces with the state to secure Echo Lake, encompassing Cathedral Ledge, White Horse Ledge, and Echo Lake. Echo Lake State Park now stands as a testament to the harmonious coexistence of nature and those who strive to protect its pristine beauty. Cathedral Ledge, with its rich history and captivating allure, remains a destination where the spirit of conservation meets the thrill of adventure.

Location

Address: Cathedral Ledge Road, Bartlett, New Hampshire
Place GPS Coordinates: 44.062806, -71.166056
Parking GPS Coordinates: 44.062806, -71.166056
Parking Notes: Cathedral Ledge Lookout is accessible by car during the season by traveling up Cathedral Ledge Road. There are dozens of parking spots at the lookout. Parking is free, but please consider making a donation at any of the three donation canisters, “Iron Rangers,” along Cathedral Ledge Road or at the summit. When hiking to Cathedral Ledge, visitors can park at Echo Lake. During the season, parking is $4 for adults and $2 for children (6-11).

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