This is a half-day family-friendly hike, generally easy, but with some short moderately steep sections.
This perennial favorite among Waterville hikers offers fluvioglacial geomorphological wonderments! To learn more about the geology of this trail, read the article, below, which you may have seen printed in the 2012 WVAIA Newsletter.
The Kettles Path: Fluvioglacial Geography in Waterville Valley
By Gary Moak and John Recine
The Kettles Path enjoys popularity among Waterville Valley hikers as a relatively easy route to The Scaur, a rocky outcrop nestled on the Scaur Ridge at 2200 feet. The Scaur affords a wonderful view, from the north, of Waterville Valley and its surrounding peaks, including The Tripyramids, Snows Mountain, Sandwich Dome, Jennings Peak, The Acteon Ridge, and Mt. Tecumseh. Because it is flat and usually comfortably protected from the wind, The Scaur is a favored place to enjoy a panoramic view over lunch, even in winter. Most hikers so appreciate The Scaur as a destination that the merits of the route, the Kettles Path, go unrecognized.
The Kettles Path itself is of interest for its fluvioglacial land forms, the kettles, for which the trail is named. Fluvioglacial landforms are landforms created by glacial meltwater. Geological kettles are bowl-shaped hollows that were formed when chunks of glacial ice were stranded as the glaciers receded. Over time, sediment built up around the ice chunks. The ice eventually melted leaving hollows in the terrain.
Kettles typically are tens of meters deep and up to tens of kilometers wide. Most contain surface water and may appear as ponds or lakes. The Scottish Lochs are good examples of Kettles. The Waterville Valley kettles, ironically, are not filled with water, and are examples of dry kettles. They also are much smaller.
The kettles were first discovered by Arthur L. Goodrich (for whom Goodrich Rock is named) circa 1890. Some years earlier, Goodrich had built the Scaur Path to the Scaur. He then linked The Scaur Path to the kettles, with a new path, which became the forerunner of The Kettles Path we know today.
The Kettles Path is part of the Waterville Athletic & Improvement Association’s trail system. It is a 0.9 mile trail that leaves Livermore Road 0.9 miles from Depot Camp, and connects to the Scaur Trail, 0.2 miles from its terminus at The Scaur. The Kettles Path meanders pleasantly through a delightful section of hardwood forest. Much of the trail is flat with good footing. The three kettles can be found at about 1,775 feet of elevation midway along the trail, on its east side. Next time you make your way up to The Scaur, take a moment to appreciate the fluvioglacial marvels along the way.