Trekking The New Hampshire’s White Mountains 2

Trekking The New Hampshire’s White Mountains

The Hiking Trails

New Hampshire’s White Mountains, locally known as the Whites, has long been one of the region’s most famous and iconic hiking destinations. Groups of hikers have been flocking to this mountainous region for a wilderness retreat. A good day of hiking at that.

In the white mountains, there are short hikes that require minimal effort. These short hikes can take you to a waterfall or a spectacular view. Longer hikes will take you to picturesque outlooks, lakes and ponds, and stunning mountain summits!

So, what are the best White Mountain hikes? In fact, there is no scarcity of routes here, and a number of routes are among the best picturesque in the Northeast. Here are some of the best hiking trips in the White Mountains.

The Black Cap Trail

Despite being slightly tougher than its neighbors, Black Cap Trail is a great option for those looking for a bigger day out. Located in the 908-acre Conway Common Lands State Forest, this 2.4-mile round-trip is considered a moderately challenging route. This trail is an in-town summit hike. Head north from the town to arrive at the trailhead on Hurricane Mountain Road. The main trail heads straight up the side of Black Cap Mountain. The grade is fairly relaxed, making this a reasonable hike. At about 0.8 miles from the start, you will arrive in a split in the trail. This is where a narrow path, the Black Cap Summit Spur, follows left to the peak. However, it is easier to stay on the Black Cap Trail, which follows a wider, less rocky route to the summit and views of North Conway and Mount Washington Valley.

Dogs: Leashed

The Mt. Chocorua – Champney Falls Route

Mount Chocorua is a popular 3,442-foot peak near North Conway. It can be reached by numerous trails. However, going the Champney Falls Route is easily accessible via Kancamagus Highway but is the most trafficked. This popular route is located in Ferncroft, seventeen miles west of North Conway. It is a 7.2-mile out and back. Summarily, it is a beautiful hike past waterfalls going to the summit. The level of difficulty is Intermediate/difficult. Start the hike at Champney Falls Trail, then cross the footbridge over Twin Brook. And then follow an old logging road until you arrive at Champney Brook. Here the trail turns south. Then follow the brook for about a mile. At the left of the junction with Pitcher and Champney Falls Extension, a trail will lead you farther up the brook and past Pitcher Falls. Continuing the hike from here, the trail turns away from the main brook up to a smaller tributary to reach Champney Falls. This trail will eventually rejoin the main trail. Furthermore, up 2.5 miles into the hike, the trail begins to switch back and the climb is intense. Reaching the saddle, turn right to Piper Trail which leads up to the summit of Mount Chocorua via rocky outcrops. When done, enjoy first the views of the surrounding lakes, peaks, and valleys, before retracing your steps back to the trailhead.

Dogs: Leashed

The Presidential Traverse

The Presidential Traverse
The Presidential Traverse

The Presidential Traverse is one of the most iconic hikes in the Whites, known for its rugged terrain and stunning views. Located at Gorham, thirty-five miles from North Conway, this route is an 18.9-mile one-way traverse, considered to be difficult. Going along the summit line of the Presidential Range, this 19-mile, above-the-tree line hike is rocky, windy, and often quite cold, even in summer. Understandably, strong hikers can tackle the route in a single day. Otherwise, stay in one of the AMC huts to turn it into a great overnight trip.

Normally the hike is from north to south. Day hikers should plan to start trekking before dawn. Be ready for sun exposure, cold temperatures, high winds, lightning, and precipitation in all forms. A headlamp is a must. Also, you will need to figure out transportation. Several hiking groups park a car at both ends and then shuttle themselves. But depending on your schedule, you can also use the AMC shuttle.

Start the trek at Randolph, New Hampshire, at the Valley Way/Appalachia Trailhead, and take the Valley Way Trail south. This path weaves through the thick forest as it gently climbs towards Snyder Brook, which it follows briefly. Numerous trail intersections are dotted along this portion, so watch the trail signs to make sure you stay on Valley Way. Following a couple of miles, the grade steepens. Arriving at the trail junction in the saddle, stay left on Star Lake Trail to reach Madison Spring Hut. Here you can fill your water bottles.

Continuing from the hut, take Osgood Trail east, and push up the talus field to the summit of Mount Madison. Do not hang around too long because you have many more miles to go. Once you arrive at the summit, head back the way you came to return to the hut where you will join the Gulfside Trail. Sooner you will pop out of the forest and stay above the tree line for most of the rest of the hike. The Gulfside Trail leads you to a well-known ridgeline where you will turn left onto the Air Line Trail. This trail will take you past Mount Quincy to Mount Adams. From the peak of Mount Adams, descend to the west along Star Lake Trail. Heading east, you will end your hike much too early. Alternatively, take a strong left turn onto Israel Ridge Path. This path eventually merges with Gulfside Trail for about 0.4 miles. At the split, stay left again to follow Gulfside Trail as it smoothly goes down the ridge.

Lastly, since the trail is difficult with so many trails here and there, there is no harm in being cautious, at times. This hike is not an adventure for beginners - or even experienced ones if they are making their first trip to the Whites.

Dogs: Leashed

The Pemi Loop

The Pemi loop is too beautiful. Chock-full of sweeping, above-tree-line views of the Pemigewasset Wilderness. This technical loop hike is located thirty-six miles west of North Conway and is rated as a difficult hike. This is a 30-mile-long loop, an exhausting and gorgeous backpacking trip. The trek with roots, rocks, and plenty of steep sections requires scrambling most hikers take a few days to complete its thirty miles loop.

Start the hike at the Lincoln Woods Parking Area off Kancamagus Highway right next to the East Branch Pemigewasset River. Then cross the bridge to reach the trailhead. From the bridge. From the bridge, take the Lincoln Woods Trail north as it hugs the river. This former rail line is large that ascends gradually. Continuing, first, tackle the most challenging terrain by turning left at the first intersection onto Osseo Trail. The scrawny singletrack tops up a narrow drainage. Three miles into the hike, the trail steepens as the route climbs the ridgeline toward Mount Flume. Arriving at the summit, continue straight onto Franconia Ridge Trail. From here, the trail relaxes slightly as it follows the ridge to Mount Liberty, Little Haystack Mountain, Mount Lincoln, and Mount Lafayette. The views all along this section are sweeping and gorgeous.

At the top of Mount Lafayette, continue north onto Garfield Ridge Trail. This trail goes down steeply from the summit. The steep descent from this peak can be challenging. And although the trees close around you, there are still a few nice views along the way to Mount Garfield. Additionally, if needed, you cake take shelter halfway down where you can rest or make camp. All the same, once you are down, the next two miles are relatively level and welcoming. And you can then stop at Galehead Hut, 15.7 miles into the hike, for water or shelter.

From the hut, continue to take the Twinway Trail, which rises up almost 1,000 feet to the South Twin Mountain, in just over half a mile. While the climb is exhausting and draining, you will be rewarded with 3.5 miles of level trail skirting the ridgeline between the bowls. At the summit crossing of Mount Guyot and passing through Guyot Shelter about 19 miles into the hike, it is a slight climb to the summit of Mount Bond. From here, take the Bondcliff Trail down from the peak. At first, the trail descends steeply before following the lower, rocky ridgeline for a half-mile. Continue traversing under the ridge and begin descending the drainage of Black Brook. Upon reaching the East Branch Pemigewasset River, the trail is level and relaxing. Once you cross Franconia Brook, the trail leaves the Wilderness area and becomes the Lincoln Woods Trail. This will finally take you all the way back to the trailhead.

Dogs: Leashed

Want more adventures in the White Mountains? You can see first Trekking The New Hampshire’s White Mountains 1

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