Visiting New Hampshire's Biodiversity


King Ravine: Montane Acidic Talus System and Rock Glacier



Description:
The floor of King Ravine is a jumbled mass of boulders that have fallen from the extremely steep rock walls above. The site is interesting for both it’s unique geology and it’s spectacular ecological features. The boulder-field here is a fossil “rock glacier.” Between and after the last continental glaciations, alpine glaciers occupied and steepened the deep cirques of the Presidential Range. These smaller, local glaciers transported rock material from the felsenmeer plateau and rock walls above, and dispersed the boulders along the valley floor below. The glaciers are gone now, but lingering ice can still be found year-round beneath some of the boulders. The primary ecological system here is montane acidic talus system and several common component natural communities are subalpine cold-air talus barren and montane lichen talus barren.

Directions: Park at the “Appalachia” hikers parking lot on the south side of Rte. 2. Hike south up the Air Line Trail for 0.8 miles. Bear right on the Short Line Trail and follow for 2.7 miles to a junction with the King Ravine Trail near Mossy Fall. Bear left and continue up on the King Ravine Trail for 0.3 miles to the floor of the ravine. The next half mile or so of trail continues over, across, and sometimes under the massive boulders below the surrounding steep walls of King Ravine. Explore the rugged Elevated and Subway trails to experience the full range of terrain in this spectacular setting. A little farther uphill are the Ice Caves, where you can find pockets of un-melted ice and snow under the boulders, even in the middle of the summer. Warning: the ravine portion of this hike is quite difficult and may require extra time.

Landowner:
White Mountain National Forest

Images (hold mouse over image for caption)

View north from the floor of King Ravine (photo by Doug Bechtel)
View north from the floor of King Ravine (photo by Doug Bechtel)

Large talus boulders on the floor of King Ravine (photo by Ben Kimball)
Large talus boulders on the floor of King Ravine (photo by Ben Kimball)

brook below Mossy Falls at the foot of King Ravine (photo by Ben Kimball)
brook below Mossy Falls at the foot of King Ravine (photo by Ben Kimball)

Montane acidic talus system as viewed from the headwall of King Ravine (photo by Pete Bowman)  subalpine cold-air talus barren (mossy cold air variant) near the base of the headwall in King Ravine (photo by Pete Bowman)

King Ravine from above (on the Air Line Trail) (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
King Ravine from above (on the Air Line Trail) (photo by Ben Kimball)

click to link to King Ravine site map

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