Franconia RidgePhoto Credit : Jim Salge
The peripatetic Marty Basch lives and hikes in the high country of north-central New Hampshire, the source for his bicycling book, The White Mountain Ride Guide: A Backroad and Trailside Companion (Top of the World Communications, 1998), among his other outdoor adventure accounts. Read his picks for the best scenic hikes in the White Mountains.
There’s nothing easy about a New Hampshire 4,000-footer, but the taxing trek up 4,760-foot Eisenhower in Chandlers Purchase generally offers fine footing before the steep push to its flat, bald crown; the awe-inspiring view takes in fellow outlying Presidential Range jewels. J. Rayner Edmands’ careful trail design has withstood countless steps since 1909, helping hikers to reach the sweeping panorama.
Edmands Path & Mount Eisenhower Loop, 6.6 miles round trip. Trailhead on Mount Clinton Road, Crawfords Purchase, NH.
A splendid loop connects these two low-lying mountains near Waterville Valley, featuring Mad River Valley vistas, mostly forgiving hiking, and incredible ledges. There’s some rock scrambling, but the eye candy is worth it.
Welch-Dickey Loop Trail, 4.4 miles. Trailhead 6 miles east on Route 49 from I-93 Exit 28; turn left on Upper Mad River Road and right on Orris Road, Waterville Valley, NH.
The hike to the ledges of this small Willey Range peak in Crawford Notch serves up an eagle’s-eye view of a U-shaped valley. The trek leaves a lofty neighborhood—including the source of the Saco River, a train depot, and the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Highland Center—and ends at an open perch showcasing the towering Webster Cliffs, historic Willey Slide, and more.
Mount Willard Trail, 3.2 miles round trip. Trailhead on Route 302, about 8 miles south of junction Routes 302/3, Crawford Notch State Park, Harts Location, NH.
Arduous and wonderful, the traverse over Little Haystack, Mount Lincoln, and Mount Lafayette is a classic high-wire circuit, with a healthy share of the trip above treeline. Simply, it showcases the glory of the White Mountains. Be cognizant of exposure to weather.
Old Bridle Path, Falling Waters, Franconia Ridge, and Greenleaf Trails, 9 miles. Trailhead at Lafayette Place Campground exit off Franconia Notch Parkway (I-93), Franconia/Lincoln, NH.
With a multitude of exacting trail choices, paths lead to the bare 3,500-foot summit in Albany and its superb stage showcasing the vastness of the Whites and beyond. A wonderful vantage point to see Mount Washington and the unspoiled Sandwich Range Wilderness.
Champney Falls Trail, 7.6 miles round trip. Trailhead about 10 miles west on Kancamagus Highway from junction Routes 112/16, Albany, NH.
What tops your list for the best scenic hikes in the White Mountains?