201 - Rippey Trail Map
Easy. The ascent towards the north end is moderate at worst. When the trees are in leaf, particularly in the morning, this can be a nice walk in the woods. It is wide in spots and I don't know how anyone could get lost.
From the south, the trail begins at the Randolph Trailhead. To the right is a narrow path, to the left a blocked dirt road. Most hikers follow the path but it joins with the road after about a quarter mile for a short distance. Trails 201 and 202 are running together at his point but split with 201 veering off to the left after another quarter mile or so. It's marked.
The trail narrows but never to the point of not being obvious. Overall from here the trail ascends but it is softly up and down for the most part. The north end of the trail is at the junction with the south end of trail 206 - Thompson Creek and the west end of trail 209 - Sipsey River. Of course it is quite possible to walk in the opposite direction but the afternoon sun can be brutal on the eyes after the trees have shed their leaves.
Those who want a somewhat easy hike but more than just 201 may wish to follow either 206 or 209 to the river and then retrace their steps. The 209 route is much steeper but shorter. This end of 206 gives you more moderate grades plus some lovely overlooks of hemlock forest.
Trail 201 is possibly one of the better birding trails in the Wilderness. From where the southern intro trail joins with the road to the split with trail 202 can be excellent for thrushes and blackbirds, as can a section further north where a number of downed pines provide optimal habitat. This is definitely a good trail to spot Winter Wrens in season.
Off trail but just north and to the east of the three-trail junction lies the Rippey cabin, one of those forty acre tracts (the mule being long gone) that are still private land. No one lives there and you are welcome to visit, always please be respectful of other people's property. Sadly, the 1947 newspaper that was still lying on the table in 2005 had disappeared by 2008.
For camping, this trail has few obvious spots. Proximity to water is limited at best. The main use of this trail, aside from a pleasant walk in itself, is for access to trail 209 and for a 201-202 loop.
One might be tempted to try a loop hike with trail 202 - Randolph. Both 201 and 202 originate at the Randolph Trailhead and end at the river. This will work but in between the two river endpoints, you will want to cross the river, follow trail 209, and then re-cross the river. The near side of the river, i.e. the southern and western side, has almost no trail connecting 201 and 202. You can hack your way through but expect to climb over downed logs, discover detours to avoid eroded stream banks, and frequently dodge branches in your face. The 209 side is much easier - but you have to cross the river twice.