ATTENTION: TRAILS UPDATE 7/21/2023
Access has been restored to most trails near Shannon Pond. The trails that remain closed include a section of the Shannon Brook Trail, a section of the Brook Walk, and a short section of the Pond Trail located in between Cold Spring Road and the Oak Ridge Trail due to a bridge closure.
Thank you for your cooperation.
The Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area consists of 5,246 acres owned by LRCT, providing extraordinary hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing opportunities. The 30 miles of trails and carriage roads are 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.
In 2010, LRCT transferred 135 acres to the Castle Preservation Society to own and operate the Castle estate, buildings and grounds, which LRCT holds a conservation easement. Click here to learn more about visiting the Castle.
LRCT’s Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area and the work to conserve this magnificent property were featured on the popular public television program Windows to the Wild in late 2020. The episode aired in New Hampshire on NHPBS and in the Boston area on GBH44. It can now be viewed online on the Windows to the Wild website.
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 and one on Route 171.
Additional parking is available, (when the grounds are not snow-covered) in designated areas along Ossipee Park Road on the Castle Preservation Society property. Parking is not allowed in non-designated areas (such as driveways, other parking areas, and grounds) and may lead to your vehicle being towed.
The historic and scenic entry road, running from the Castle entrance on Route 171 up to the Castle is open for pedestrian use. In the winter the road may be used for hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. Biking is not allowed.
Everyone enjoying recreation on the Castle grounds should respect the No Trespassing area surrounding the Castle and Carriage House. Thank you.
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.
Hiking Trail Map
LRCT has 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.
Trails vary in difficulty based on mileage, elevation change, and trail conditions. These are LRCT’s recommended ratings; however, everyone varies in ability and should trust their own instincts:
Easy trails are mostly level with gentle elevation gain or losses
Moderate trails will challenge novice hikers. the terrain will involve moderate incline and may have steeper sections and uneven footing
Strenuous trails will challenge most hikers. The hike will generally be longer and include more steep sections.
The Brook Walk leads to viewpoints for seven spectacular waterfalls, with much of the trail following the route that led visitors to these points more than a century ago. Signs along the trail provide descriptions of the waterfalls and include old images, providing an idea of how these falls appeared to Ossipee Mountain Park visitors many years ago. 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 (1220')|
|Turtleback Mountain Trail to:||0.36 mi||0.36 mi|
|Oak Ridge Trail||0.40 mi||0.76 mi|
|View Point (1480')||0.40 mi||1.16 mi|
|Oak Ridge Trail to:||0.38 mi||1.54 mi|
|Pond Trail back to Shannon Pond Kiosk (1,220’)||0.1 mi||1.64 mi|
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 developed a Hiker Achievement Patch Program which recognizes those who have explored the 30 miles of trails entirely within LRCT’s Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area. This includes 5 major summits and 16 designated trails. 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. The Quest 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.
Have fun and good luck!
Columnar Jointing on Turtleback Mountain
You may have noticed some interesting geological features if you have hiked up to Turtleback Mountain. Learn about the fascinating geological structures called columnar joints, most notably seen at Devil’s tower in Wyoming or Devil’s Postpile in California, and learn how they are formed here.
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. Learn more about the trail grooming program 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 in the Clouds 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.
Visit their website for information on touring the Lucknow Mansion, dining at the Carriage House Restaurant, or visiting their attractions here.