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Access to the Dry River Valley has been officially closed since hurricane Irene destroyed much of the trails in 2011. However, one can still access the valley by dropping down into it from the Presidentials Ridge. It's just quite a trot. We started out from Crawford Notch and went up the Crawford Path to Mitzpah Hut (left), where the crew gave us directions as to what was passable in the valley. At that point Roger left us to do the Jackson-Webster Loop while Peter and I dropped into the valley by the Mt. Clinton Trail to the Dry River Cutoff. We thought we would see no one in the valley but to our surprise we saw a couple within five minutes. It turns out they were looking for the AT and had mistakenly gone down the Mt. Clinton Trail. Good thing we were there to redirect them. We didn't see anyone else. The Dry River Cutoff had quite a few blowdowns but was otherwise a mellow trail, with some bucolic spots (right).
As we got into the valley floor we began to see mayhem - messes of downed trees. The Dry River Cutoff trail disappeared, and in its place were pink ribbons to direct us as we followed and crossed a large tributary of Dry River (left and right).
We eventually recovered the trail and reached the intersection with the Mt. Eisenhower Trail (left). It was strange to see a brand new trail sign in an otherwise closed and forsaken area. From there we continued on to cross Dry River and find the Dry River Trail for a visit to Dry River Falls. We found the Dry River Trail to be overgrown but not in particularly bad shape, and after 0.2 miles of further climbing we dropped to the falls by a side trail (right).
The falls were very nice from the bottom but even nicer from the top. Here I am at the top of the falls looking into Dry River (left). There was a large swimming pool above the falls (right).
Our visit to Dry River complete, we retraced our steps to the intersection with the Mt. Eisenhower Trail, and took that trail to climb back up to the Crawford Path on the Presidentials Ridge. There were a few blowdowns but overall the trail was in good shape and very pleasant (left). It was a long climb, from 2,600' to 4,400'. Eventually we got above treeline and looked back at the Dry River Valley (right). We stopped for a while to enjoy the solitude before connecting to the Crawford Path thoroughfare where we would see people again.
We got to the Crawford Path and proceeded up to Lakes of the Clouds Hut to go down the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail. Crawford Path is a glorious trail along the Presidentials ridge and it was a perfect day for it, clear with a moderate breez. As we hiked up we had views back to Eisenhower (left) and ahead to Monroe and Washington (right-- Monroe is blackened by a cloud passing by).
One peculiar thing about the main trails on the Presidentials Ridge (Crawford Path in the south, Gulfside Trail in the north) is that they skip the summits, otherwise accessible by loop trails. Generally on the Crawford Path we would feel an urge to climb Monroe but not this time - we had climbed enough. So we skipped the Monroe Loop and stayed on the Crawford Path which skirts around Monroe and offers beautiful views of the above-treeline vegetation and the mess of mountains surrounding us (left). From there we connected to the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail (right) and back down.