This is a share from visitwatervillevalley.com’s blog…
By Alyssa Walker
Looking for a new challenge in the White Mountains of New Hampshire? Want to earn a patch for the most miles hiked in one range? Anyone from hiking newbies to the most grizzled thru-hikers seeking that proverbial feather in the cap–you might even catch a literal one, too–can enjoy Waterville Valley’s new WV Redliner 125 Patch program which covers 125 miles of stunning mountain trails at the town at the end of the road. The 125 Patch covers 19 peaks, 57 natural features, and 48 trails over some of the most beautiful hiking country that New Hampshire offers.
What’s a Redliner program? Glad you asked. Redliner hiking programs came about in high-use hiking areas to encourage hikers and other explorers to expand their hiking repertoire beyond the beaten path. In some hiking areas, like the Whites, certain trails are rarely visited because they don’t lead to a peak, let alone a 4,000 footer. One hope with redliner programs? To encourage hikers not just to expand their knowledge, but to give the most heavily used trails a break–and to offer other hikers a less crowded hiking experience.
Why red? Brooke Wakefield, Recreation “the Rec” Director for the Town of Waterville Valley, who spearheaded the effort, explains that the term “redliner” comes from the hiker practice of marking off completed trails on a hiking map with a red Sharpie.
She said, “Redliners came about because so many people over-used popular hiking trails.” Trail stewardship organizations like the Appalachian Mountain Club–the AMC–also have redliner programs to foster an appreciation for all the trails in the Whites.
According to Steven Smith, owner of the Mountain Wanderer Map and Bookstore in Lincoln, NH and well-traveled author and editor of the famed AMC White Mountain Guide among others said, “Waterville Valley has the most miles for redlining a specific range or region.” He explained that the Randolph Mountain Club has the “Randolph 100” (which is technically 102.5) and the Belknap Range boasts 65 miles. Other ranges, like Castle in the Clouds in the Lake Region Conservation Trust has about 30 miles and the Squam Lakes Association Squam Ranger Redliner has about 50. Naturally, the White Mountain Guide redlining patch includes 1400+ miles, but that covers multiple ranges and regions. There are several other programs in the Catskills and Adirondacks, too, not to mention other parts of the country.
Wakefield said, “For us to do this project was exciting.” To date, no one has completed the new WV 125 patch, which launched in June. That doesn’t mean this season is out.
This season, the Rec offers its Sunday guided hiking program to “link together as many miles of the redliner patch as we can,” explained Wakefield. “We offer shuttles for our trails that go all the way to the Kanc.” That way, she said, hikers don’t have to double back and re-hike their miles.
While Sundays are an efficient day to work on your Waterville Valley Redliner patch, the Rec’s Saturday morning hikes and nature walks are also predominantly all on the Patch’s 125 miles of trail. That’s right: virtually any and all of the Rec’s guided hikes cover Redliner trails!
It’s easy to register, too. The hikes are gaining in popularity, said Wakefield. She added, “Waterville Valley has been such a hiking mecca and it’s been so overlooked for so long and we’re showing people the trails we have. It’s exciting to highlight our amazing trails and allow people to see them from a different perspective.”
You don’t have to join a guided hike to participate, although Wakefield said they’re a lot of fun, especially for families looking for a way to enjoy the Redliner challenge together. For those who’ve already completed their 4,000 footers, Wakefield said all they have to do is submit proof and they automatically qualify for the WV 125 patch.
What about those who want to hike on their own time, on their own terms? Totally fine. Just hike. And remember to record your miles in the log.
Wakefield explained the five steps hikers need to earn the patch. First, hikers should download a WV Redliner 125 hiking log sheet from the WVRD website. Then, they should purchase a WV trail map–check out the Bookmonger, Waterville Valley’s local bookstore! Next step is to hike, either on your own or by registering for any of the Rec’s guided hikes. Hikers who complete all the hikes on the list can submit their completed log sheets with $10 per person per patch to the Waterville Valley Rec Department. The final step? Wakefield wants to encourage Redliner completers to share their WV Redliner 125 adventures on social media using #WVRedliner, #WV125, and #hikenh hashtags.
In addition to exploring some of the less-traveled beauty of the White mountains, there’s the beauty of truth in all of this, too. “All of redlining is an honor system,” Wakefield said. “Complete the 125 miles, fill out the form, mail it in with $10, and we’ll send the patch.”
Author Alyssa Walker writes, lives, works, and plays in Waterville Valley with her husband and two adorable children. Check out her website.