Ice Gulch Project
2001-2002

The Ice Gulch, located in the towns of Gorham and Randolph and accessed by trails maintained by the Randolph Mountain Club, is truly one of the natural gems of the state of New Hampshire. The Ice Gulch has been popular among both area residents and tourists for a century or more. Known technically as a cold air talus woodland, the gulch is, in essence, a deep, narrow ravine, which forms a "reverse alpine zone." The length of the gulch is divided into three chambers, or "vestibules." Amid the boulder strewn floor, one can find plants such as black spruce, Labrador tea and alpine bilberry. It is not uncommon for ice to be present, under the boulders, throughout the summer. Fairy Spring, at the foot of the gulch, is the beginning of Moose Brook, which serves as a source of drinking water for the town of Gorham.

Thanks to a Recreation Trails Program grant, the Randolph Mountain Club is rebuidling approximately 5.0 miles of the Cook Path, Ice Gulch Path and Peboamauk Fall Loop which are used to access the Gulch itself. These three trails form a 6.0 mile loop, leading from Randolph, through Ice Gulch, in the town of Gorham, and back to Randolph.

The RMC trail crew uses tools such as mattocks and grub hoes to dig ditches, clippers and axes to remove vegetation, along with rock bars, come-alongs and grip-hoists to set rock steps and staircases. Cedar and tamarack bog bridges are being installed along muddy section of the trail, with materials hauled to the site by the trail crew on wooden pack frames.

The Randolph Mountain Club has been responsible for the maintenance of these two trails since the club's founding in 1910. Matching funds for this project came directly from RMC member dues and donations.


RMC SCA trail crew member Laura Conchelos sets a rock step in an especially muddy section.

Step stones through a muddy section enable hikers to stay on the trail, reducing trail widening and other impacts. This set of step stones is almost complete.

A new ditch helps dry out a long section of trail.

Completed cross drain enables water to move across the trail, while step stones and nearby natural scree guide hikers across the new drainage.

Hard at work, the crew uses rock bars to set new rock steps.

How're your geometry skills? Setting rock steps and step stones can require some skilled three dimensional thinking! Dan Rubinchuk and Matt Cittadini ('02 SCA Trail Crew) ponder a challenge.

Matt Cittadini uses a pick mattock to begin a new cross drain, to dry out a section of trail.

Cutting, or grubbing into the side of a hill helps keep hikers on the path. A gentle slope helps the water drain off, while wooden scree (right) focuses hiker traffic onto the new trail surface.

Related Links

State of NH Recreational Trails Program

RMC Awarded Grants