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Pulpit Rock Loop

2.6 Miles
Moderate
2
Time to Hike: 1 hour, ~18 minutes
Added:
August 16, 2019
Updated:
August 20, 2019

The Pulpit Rock Loop at Pulpit Rock Conservation Land in Bedford, New Hampshire is a moderate 2.6-mile loop hike that features large rock outcroppings along a beautiful woodland hike.

This hike follows three main trails, first beginning on a one-way spur that leads to the loop, and eventually follows this spur out from the loop and back to parking. Despite the 'loop' type, this is a 'lollipop' hike.

Trail Name (s): Kennard Trail, Ravine Trail and Campbell Trail.

Trailhead Location: Pulpit Rock Conservation Land, 596 New Boston Road, Bedford, NH.

Allowed activities: hiking, birding, geocaching, picnicking, nature study, snowshoeing, camping by permit only. Permits obtained by contacting the Police at 603-472-5113.

Forbidden activities: no hunting, no trapping, no firearms, no littering, no parking after dusk without camping permit, no fires without permit, no motorized, tracked or wheeled vehicles.

Hours: Trails are open daily during daylight hours.

Parking and fees: There is no fee to use the trails or park. Donations are gladly accepted and there is a box with envelopes for any who wish to do so. There is very plenty of parking at the Pulpit Rock Trailhead.

Pets: Dogs are allowed on the trails as long as they are leashed and waste is carried out with the hiker.

Accessibility: This hike is not recommended for anyone who may have mobility issues or trouble with balance.  This trail has many dangerous trip hazards and changes in substrate that make it nearly impossible for wheelchairs or strollers to traverse.

Sanitation: There are no restrooms at the trailhead, but there is a trash bin near the trailhead kiosk. Visitors are encouraged to carry out any waste.

Trail information:  There is an information Kiosk with a posted Trail map at the Trailhead. The Kennard Trail has a White Trail Blaze marker. The Ravine Trail has an Orange Trail Blaze Marker, and the Campbell Trail has a Red Trail Blaze Marker. Sometimes the markers are shaped like rectangles; other times they are shaped like diamonds and occasionally squares may be seen. There are signs posted on some of the junction points and limited information about trail terminations posted on Trial Blaze Markers. A copy of the trails can be downloaded or printed by following the link below:

https://www.bedfordnh.org/DocumentCenter/View/217/Pulpit-Rock-Area-PDF

Length and features: This hike is a moderate 2.6 mile trip, done as a loop. From the trailhead parking area, The Kennard Trail starts off by guiding hikers past a bench that has been dedicated to the memory of Ruth Tolf-Ansell, who was a Bedford Land Trust Chairperson. Ruth Tolf-Ansell was instrumental in securing a conservation easement on the Pulpit Rock Conservation Land to the Bedford Land Trust which will ensure that this land is preserved for decades to come. Just past Ruth’s bench is a picnic table for use by visitors before or after they enjoy the trails. The Kennard trail starts along a lengthy boardwalk through a small wetland. There are changes in elevation along the boardwalk, and care should be taken along the path to avoid a fall into the soggy area on either side. The boardwalk ends and gives way to a wooded trail where the substrate is comprised of tree roots and rocks. Further along the trail, there is a sign posted for two campsites. The campsites are not far off of the Kennard trail and camping is allowed by permit only. At each site campers will find a wooden elevated platform to keep them off the ground. One of the campsites has a picnic table available for use.  The Kennard trail crosses several areas that can be wet in the spring or wet stretches of weather. Because the water table fluctuates so much depending on the season, wooden foot bridges have been installed along the trail to ease crossing these wet sections. Near Pulpit rock, there is a kiosk that gives information about how Pulpit Rock was formed and also information about the flora that can be found throughout the trail system. When the water table is high, there can be dramatic waterfalls and flows at Pulpit Rock. There is a thick safety wire strung near the edge to keep hikers from getting too close to the edge. Parents are strongly advised to keep children in hand to prevent any tragedies from occurring here.

The Ravine Trail starts to the right of the information kiosk and winds its way down to the bottom and around Pulpit Rock. There are steep rock scrambles at this part of the trail and care must be taken when the water table is high. Wet moss covered rocks may be slippery from water spray. Pulpit Rock is an impressive example of the power of water and erosion, even when there is no water flowing over the falls. Visitors will be amazed to see the areas of massive stone that have had enormous sections carved away by water over time.

There are several rocky steep sections along the Ravine trail; the footing could prove to be tricky with a high water table. There are several wooden foot bridges placed to assist in crossing these areas when water is high. The Ravine Trail ends where the Campbell Trail begins. Hikers may choose to keep to the left to head back to the Kennard Trail to close the loop or they may continue to the right on the Campbell trail to visit the remains of the Gages Sawmill site. The Sawmill site is a fun place to explore, and there is a geocache hidden nearby. There is a lovely meadow near the Sawmill site where Joe Pye weed, Wild Cardinal Flower and Goldenrod blooms fill the meadow with color.

The Campbell trail substrate has far less foot hazards than the Ravine Trail, and the trail is carpeted with pine needles. The trail is wide enough in most sections to walk two abreast. There were some fallen trees across the trail but were easily navigated and the Red trail blazes easy to find to put hikers back on track.  The Campbell trail rejoins the Kennard Trail and hikers will easily close the loop of the hike and head back to the parking area.

View more trails near Bedford, NH

Hazards

Ticks - Lyme Disease More Info (CDC)
Poison Ivy/Oak
Falling rocks or scrambles

Surface Type

Dirt

Seasons

All

Blaze Color

White

Blaze Dot

White
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278 '

Total Change
479 '

Ascent
466 '

Descent
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2.6 miles
Trail added
August 16, 2019
Updated on
August 20, 2019

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