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Hiking at Pondicherry

The refuge has a number of hiking trails that offer options for hikes of varying lengths.  Although some trails, such as the Colonel Whipple Trail and the Slide Brook Trail, are a bit rough with uneven footing, all trails at the refuge are relatively flat with very little elevation gain.  The trails listed below are shown on the Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge Map & Guide, on display at the Airport Road kiosk and available for sale at several locations.  Trail descriptions can also be found on the Pondicherry pages on the Trail Finder website (main trail system and Mud Pond Trail).

  • The Pondicherry Rail Trail is the most popular trail at the refuge and is accessed from the Airport Road parking lot.  It follows the former bed of the Maine Central Railroad with very smooth footing and leads in just over 1 ½ miles to the Tudor Richards Viewing Platform on the shore of Cherry Pond.  Often called the “father of Pondicherry,” Richards was instrumental in the acquisition of the land that created Pondicherry in 1963.  The platform honoring him provides a lovely view of the pond, the Pliny Range, and the northern Presidentials and is a wonderful spot for birdwatching.

  • Waumbek Link is a very short trail that leads from the Tudor Richards Viewing Platform to Waumbek Junction.  North of Waumbek Junction, one follows active railroad tracks to access the Shore Path, the Rampart Path, and the Little Cherry Pond Trail.

  • The Shore Path is a short trail that leaves the railroad tracks, follows along the shore of Cherry Pond, and then rejoins the railroad tracks.  It has nice views of the pond and two benches where one can stop for a rest or a snack.  Adjacent to the northern bench is a plaque mounted on a boulder, designating Pondicherry as a National Natural Landmark.

  • The Rampart Path leaves the railroad tracks a short distance beyond the Shore Path and runs for about half a mile before meeting the Colonel Whipple Trail.  Partway along the trail a short spur leads across the tracks to the Little Cherry Pond Trail.  There are several viewpoints along the trail, including an open area at the edge of the pond that offers a sweeping view of the pond and the surrounding mountains.  The name of the trail reflects the fact that much of it follows what is known as an “ice push rampart.”  See the Geology page for an explanation of this unique phenomenon. 

  • The Little Cherry Pond Trail leaves the railroad tracks about a third of a mile from Waumbek Junction, opposite a short spur trail to the Rampart Path. It is a 1 ½ mile loop that includes a stop at the edge of Little Cherry Pond, where there is a small viewing platform.  Designated a National Recreation Trail, this trail has relatively smooth footing with minimal elevation gain and offers opportunities to view a variety of vegetation and wildlife.

  • The Colonel Whipple Trail can be accessed from Whipple Road in Jefferson or from the northern end of the Rampart Path.  Just over 2 miles in length, it is a bit rougher than some of the other trails at Pondicherry with wet footing in spots.  It is named after Colonel Joseph Whipple, who was the founder of Jefferson.

  • The Slide Brook Trail is just over half a mile in length and leads from Route 115 to the Presidential Rail Trail.  Part of the trail follows an old beaver dam from which there are views of Cherry Mountain and Owls Head.  Care should be taken when walking on the dam as it is narrow with uneven footing.

  • The Presidential Rail Trail runs west from Route 115A towards Waumbek Junction.  Following the former bed of the Boston & Maine Railroad for just over 2 ½ miles, it is a longer approach to Cherry Pond than the Pondicherry Rail Trail.  En route to the pond, it passes through Cedar Marsh and Moorhen Marsh, both very scenic areas with mountain views. 

  • The Mud Pond Trail is accessed from a parking lot off Route 116.  Just over half a mile in length, the trail is wheelchair accessible and leads to an observation deck on the shore of Mud Pond.  Designated a National Recreation Trail, one of the highlights of this trail is a 950-foot boardwalk that passes through a beautiful black spruce bog.  Naturalist and illustrator Doreen Bolnick has done a lovely nature journal sketch of observations she made at Mud Pond on a day in June.

  • The Mooseway is a winter-only trail that runs from the Mud Pond Trail to the Little Cherry Pond Trail.  See the XC Skiing/Snowshoeing page for information about this trail.


  • The Slide Brook Trail, Presidential Rail Trail, Waumbek Link, Shore Path, Rampart Path, and Colonel Whipple Trail are all part of the Cohos Trail, which runs from Crawford Notch to the Canadian border.  Brown Cohos Trail signs can be found along these trails, and occasionally there are yellow blazes.  In Cohos Trail descriptions, the Rampart Path is referred to as the Ice Ramparts Trail.

  • The Presidential Rail Trail is also known as the Presidential Range Recreation Trail.

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