The red-blazed French’s Ledges Trail ends at the bald top of French’s Ledges, where you can take in spectacular 360-degree views of Croydon and Grantham Mountains, Mt. Ascutney, and the village of Meriden. Yellow- and blue-blazed trails provide alternate, shorter routes up to the Ledges, while these and a number of unmarked trails allow for endless combinations of routes for exploring and exercise. The combination of several conserved properties and several hundred acres of contiguous surrounding undeveloped land provides not only trails for recreation, but also excellent habitat and species biodiversity, including mink, fisher, deer, and many bird species.
The entire trail network is perfect for hiking and snowshoeing, and most of it is readily accessible to cross-country skiers and mountain bike use as well. The final section of the red blazed French’s Ledges Trail leading up to the Ledges themselves is decidedly too steep and narrow for skis or mountain bike use. However, ascending this final section on foot (using snowshoes with crampons in winter) is well worth the climb to the top of the 1,310-foot-high Ledges for the fine views that will be your reward!
During winter months, the very northern end of the red blazed French’s Ledges Trail is somewhat steep and thus suitable only for skiers with advanced skills. The ungroomed section of the blue-blazed trail, from the Ledges to the Blood Brook Loop intersection is also steep and should only be skied by advanced skiers.
A 10K groomed cross-country ski network is maintained by the Plainfield Trailblazers during winter months. Primary access for this network is from the blue-blazed French's Ledges Trailhead located at Plainfield School. Several loops and connectors link to this main trail including Blood Brook Loop, Townsend Loop, Smokehouse Loop and So Inclined. Ira's Loop connects with So Inclined is often part of the groomed winter trails network. Additional groomed loops that connect to a portion of Switchback are provided on adjacent private lands and open for winter use only.
Note: During winter use of trails, snowshoers should avoid stepping on ski tracks by walking parallel to the set track(s).
This trail crosses private property and is available for public use through the generosity of the landowners. Some portions of the trail network are open to trail users by permission of the landowners, others are managed for public access through a conservation easement with the Upper Valley Land Trust, and some are on town property. In all cases, please respect landowners’ privacy, stay on the trail, and Leave No Trace.
Note: The "x" intersection involving the trails So Inclined and the blue-blazed French's Ledges Trail seems to be a confusing intersection for some trail users. If you are heading from the school up to the ledges, be careful not to diverge onto the "So Inclined" trail or you'll have a much longer hike to reach your destination. Additional blazing and signing have helped with navigation in recent years.
From Route 120 in Meriden, NH, turn west at the yellow flashing light onto Main Street and go 0.8 miles, over the hill past Kimball Union Academy (KUA) and down to a covered bridge. Turn left onto Colby Hill Road, going through the covered bridge.
North Trailhead: From the covered bridge go 0.4 mile on Colby Hill Road to a small pull-off on your left for the start of the French’s Ledges Trail.
Middle Trailhead: From the covered bridge go 0.9 mile on Colby Hill Road and turn left onto Columbus Jordan Road. Parking will be on your right along Columbus Jordan Road, half a mile from its junction with Colby Hill Road. The blue-blazed Farnum Loop Trail enters the woods about 25 yards from the parking area across a mowed field to the west. On the other side of the road, to the east, is a yellow-blazed connector trail that links with the French’s Ledges Trail, bringing you to the Ledges in just over three-quarters of a mile.
South Trailhead: Continue on Columbus Jordan Road to the South Trailhead where a blue-blazed trail will lead you to the Ledges.
During non-school hours, parking may be available for access to the eastern portion of these trails at Plainfield Elementary School off Baynes Road.
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