The Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area in the Ossipee Mountains of Moultonborough and Tuftonboro, totaling over 5,000 conserved acres, is the largest property conserved and stewarded by the Lakes Region Conservation Trust (LRCT).
In 2010, LRCT transferred to the Castle Preservation Society to own and operate the 135 acres with the Castle estate, buildings and grounds, on which LRCT holds a conservation easement. Click here to learn more about visiting the Castle.
The Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area consists of 5,246 acres owned by LRCT which provides extraordinary hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing opportunities on over 30 miles of trails and carriage roads maintained by a dedicated and enthusiastic team of LRCT volunteers.
Depending on the trail you choose and the season in which you hike, you may encounter spectacular waterfalls, incredible views from mountain summits and outlooks, signs of wildlife, historic sites, interesting geological features, and many other unique elements of this beautiful conservation area.
Hiking at Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area
There is no charge for accessing the Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area. This conserved area is open year-round to the public, during daylight hours, for low-impact recreational uses such as hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. We ask that you pay attention to signs describing appropriate activities within the protected area, which are posted at trailhead kiosks.
LRCT maintains two trailhead parking areas that are free and open to the public for accessing the trails during daylight hours, one at the end of Ossipee Park Road (click here to view on Google Maps) and one on Route 171.
Additional parking is available beyond the gate on Ossipee Park Road on the Castle Preservation Society property. Please note, that the gate on this road closes daily in the afternoon (see posting near the gate).
Hiking Trail Map
LRCT has also produced a waterproof hiking trails map for the Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area which includes trail descriptions, levels of difficulty, trail distances, and elevations. The map also features the trail map of the Red Hill Conservation Area in Moultonborough. The map folds up easily to fit in your pocket. This map is available in our online store or at our office in Center Harbor.
The Brook Walk is a short and delightful excursion for young and old alike showcasing the forested mountain beauty surrounding Lake Winnipesaukee. This interpretive trail takes you to seven waterfalls, including the Twin Falls, Whittier Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Falls of Song, a 40 ft plunge waterfall.
Oak Ridge Interpretive Trail
The Oak Ridge Trail Loop has interpretive signs along the trail to teach visitors about the ecology, history, geology, and unique characteristics of this conserved area. This trail also offers a spectacular viewpoint along the way where the Castle can be seen amidst the rolling Ossipee Mountains.
|Shannon Pond Kiosk (1,220’)|
|Oak Ridge Trail (1,220’) to:|
|Lower Bridle Path intersect (1,460’)||0.5 mi||13 min|
|View Point (1,480’)||0.8 mi||18 min|
|Turtleback Mountain Trail (1,260’) to:||1.2 mi||28 min|
|Shannon Pond Kiosk (1,220’)||1.8 mi||36 min|
Elevation Gain: 240’
Distance: 1.8 miles
Hiking Time: Approximately 36 minutes
Mt. Shaw (2,990 ft)
Mt. Shaw is the highest point in the Lakes Region. The summit provides spectacular mountain views north to the White Mountains and east across the Ossipee Ring Dike.
Mt. Shaw has been a favorite climb for Lakes Region hikers for generations. Mt. Shaw can be ascended on trails lying entirely within LRCT’s conserved land.
|Distances from Shannon Pond (1,220’) on the Turtleback Mt Trail to:|
|Faraway Mtn. Trail (1,540’)||1.40 mi||1.40 mi|
|Upper Bridle Path (1,660’)||0.25 mi||1.65 mi|
|Oak Ridge Cutoff (2,020’)||0.75 mi||2.40 mi|
|High Ridge Trail (2,360’)||0.50 mi||2.90 mi|
|Mt. Shaw Summit (2,990’)||2.10 mi||5.00 mi|
|Distances from the Mt. Shaw Summit (2,990’) on the High Ridge Trail to:|
|Oak Ridge Cutoff (2,020’)||2.10 mi||2.10 mi|
|Faraway Mtn. Trail (1,620’)||1.00 mi||3.10 mi|
|Lower Bridle Path (1,540’)||0.50 mi||3.60 mi|
|Shannon Pond (1,220’)||1.00 mi||4.60 mi|
Distance: 9.60 miles
Hiking Time: Approximately 4 hours
Mt. Roberts (2,570 ft)
Mt. Roberts is considered by many LRCT members to be the finest “undiscovered” hike in the Lakes Region.
|Distance from Shannon Pond (1,220’) to:|
|Mt. Roberts (2,582’) via Mt Roberts Trail||2.5 mi||1 hr 50 min|
|Distance from Mt. Roberts (2,582’) to:|
|Shannon Pond (1,220’) via Mt Roberts Trail||2.5 mi||1 hr 50 min|
Distance: 5 mile
Hiking Time: Approximately 3 hours and 40 minutes
Bald Knob (1,801 ft)
Bald Knob is also a favorite hike for families, affording excellent views of Lake Winnipesaukee and beyond.
|Shannon Pond Kiosk||1,220’|
|Turtleback Mtn. Trailhead to:||1,220’|
|Oak Ridge Trail intersect||1,260’||0.6 mi||17 min|
|Faraway Mtn. Trail intersect||1,540’||1.4 mi||24 min|
|Bald Knob Trail to:||1,710’||2.4 mi||44 min|
|Bald Knob via Bald Knob Trail||1,801’||3.2 mi||60 min|
|Bald Knob Trail to:||1,801’|
|Bald Knob Cutoff Trail to:||1,680’||0.4 mi||7 min|
|Shannon Brook Trail to:||1,100’||1.4 mi||40 min|
|Shannon Pond Kiosk||1,220’||2.1 mi||60 min|
Distance 5.3 miles
Hiking Time: Approximately 2 hours
Hiker Achievement Patch Program
LRCT has also developed a Hiker Achievement Patch Program which recognizes those who have ascended the 5 major summits and hiked the 16 designated trails, totaling 30 miles, located entirely within LRCT’s Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area. You can hike, snowshoe, and/or cross-country ski the trails to earn your embroidered patch. While working towards earning your patch, you will have the opportunity to explore all the trails spread throughout this conserved landscape. The number of patch recipients has been growing since the launch of the program; we hope that many of you will take on this 5 summit/16 trail challenge!
Lee Settlement Quest
A Quest is an activity where participants follow a rhyming trail of clues and a curious map to find a hidden box. This quest explores the remnants of a 19th-century farming settlement in what was also called “Ossipee Glen” located on the Ossipee plateau overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee at the Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area.
This Quest is a moderate hike of about 1.5 miles with slight uphill sections; it generally takes between 60-90 minutes and is best for suited for individuals ages 10 and above although younger Questers accompanied by an adult may also enjoy it.
Download the Lee Settlement Quest here. Have fun and good luck!
Cross Country Skiing
LRCT has also been working with our volunteers to groom trails at the Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area for cross country skiing. To learn more about this program please click here.
LRCT partners with the Moultonborough Snowmobile Club each year to maintain a snowmobile corridor through the Ossipee Mountains in the Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area.
To learn more about the trail conditions please visit the Moultonborough Snowmobile Club website here.
Visit the Castle with the Castle Preservation Society
The Castle buildings and grounds are owned and operated by the Castle Preservation Society. Their mission is to preserve, interpret and share the buildings and landscape of the Castle in the Clouds as a cultural resource for the benefit of the public.
Please note that you cannot hike to the Castle (Lucknow Mansion) and tickets are required to visit.
Please visit their website for information on touring the Lucknow Mansion, dining at the Carriage House Restaurant, or visiting their attractions here.
Ride Horses with Riding in the Clouds
Riding in the Clouds provides guided horseback trail rides on the Castle Preservation Society’s land. To learn more about Riding in the Clouds visit their website here.
Please note, horses and horseback riding are not allowed on LRCT-owned property because of their potential for damage to trails and vegetation, introduction of non-native vegetation, and conflict with other trail users.