Group: Cog Railway's New Mt. Washington Trail Is Illegal

Nov 28, 2017

The Cog Railway on Mt. Washington
Credit Via The Cog Railway's Facebook page

A New Hampshire nonprofit says a new trail atop Mt. Washington was built illegally. The Cog Railway company recently cleared the three-mile path to the summit on its own land – and it disagrees.

The new trail covers an old trench, dug when the state ran a powerline along the train tracks to the summit in 2010. The group Keep the Whites Wild argues the Mt. Washington Cog Railway has really built a road, which could hurt the still-recovering area.

Lawyers for the nonprofit have asked Coos County Commissioners to find the railway violated zoning rules by not getting a permit for the project. They want the railway to put the trail back to its natural state.

Commissioners didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. [Update: County officials confirmed the issue is on the commission's agenda for Dec. 13.]

But railway president Wayne Presby says he didn’t feel the trail needed a permit. He says it’s not as big as a road, and will mostly handle small maintenance vehicles, for now.

“It’s very, very rough. … It isn’t like you can drive a car or a pickup truck or any of those types of vehicles up there...it wouldn’t go up the trail. Or a full-size snowcat – that’s way too wide.”

Presby says the trail is a good shortcut to the summit, so he might try running bigger, passenger S Snow Cat vehicles there in the future. He says that would require a lot more testing.

(NOTE: This story was updated Friday to indicate that county officials confirmed the issue is on the commission's agenda for Dec. 13.)