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5 Best White Mountain Fall Foliage Hikes

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If you’re starting to get excited about the 2012 fall foliage season, you are not alone! New Hampshire is renowned for many things, but near the top of the list is its ability to awe visitors every autumn with deep and colorful fall foliage. In fact, this year is forecasted to be a terrific foliage year with a weak El Nino pattern setting, which will hopefully allow for the classic warm days and cool nights needed for great colour.

Many travelers take to the highways to enjoy the foliage, and to this end we’ll recommend some scenic drives in the coming weeks; stay tuned for that. In the mean time, we’d like to recommend a different way to take in the striking autumn display.

Over the past several years, hiking has grown in popularity but the trails still remain a “road less traveled”. Finding the right places can take time and research, however. So in an effort to help you get started with your fall foliage hiking plans, we’ve put together a short list of recommended hikes!

The following five hikes range in difficulty from easy, to moderate, and all the way up to difficult. Be sure to consider things like your physical abilities, your level of preparedness, your experience, and the amount of time you have. Many websites out there can help you prepare a proper pack that includes the “ten essentials” of hiking, but be sure to exercise good judgment and common sense while out on the trails.

Dianas Bath

Diana’s Bath

Difficulty: Easy

Roundtrip Mileage: 2

Diana’s Bath proper is a series of tumbling waterfalls fed by the Lucy Brook in the town of Bartlett, NH. The falls are surrounded by both evergreens and hardwoods, making them a wonderful destination for foliage enthusiasts.

To find the trailhead from the Manor, take a left onto Rt. 16 south for about one mile and turn right onto River Road. River Road becomes Westside Road after a few bridges, and within another 1.5 miles you’ll see the signs for the parking area which is on the left. This hike is extremely gentle, following a path that more resembles a narrow dirt road than a New Hampshire hiking trail.

Peaked Mountain

Peaked Mountain

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Roundtrip Mileage: About 4.5

Nearby to Peaked Mountain, Redstone Quarry was once the site of an extensive granite mining operation. Today, the entire Green Hills Preserve is protected by the New Hampshire division of the Nature Conservancy. This area is known for its views of North Conway, Chocorua, the Moats, and Mount Washington.

To find the trailhead from the Manor, take a left onto Rt. 16 and follow into North Conway Village. Turn left onto Artist Falls road and follow to Thompson Road. Parking for the trail is on the Right. For a map of the area, visit http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/newhampshire/placesweprotect/green-hills-map-guide-for-web.pdf . Grades vary from a bike trail to moderate climbing.

Mount Chocorua

Mount Chocorua

Difficulty: Moderate

Roundtrip Mileage: 7.8

The view of Mount Chocorua from the Chocorua Lake Road Bridge is one of the most oft photographed scenes in all of New Hampshire. To get a real taste of what this mountain is all about, consider following the road up a ways and taking a hike to the summit! This is one hike not to be taken lightly as it includes moderate and increasingly challenging terrain, especially in the higher areas.

To find the trailhead for the Liberty Trail (the hike we recommend), head south on Rt. 16 for about 15-20 minutes and take Chocorua Lake Road on the right. Follow the signs on the trees for “trails”, which should take you onto Fowlers Mill Road, and an eventual Right onto Paugus Mill Road.

Mount Hight

Mount Hight

Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult

Roundtrip Mileage: 8.2

The trail up to Mount Hight is not for everyone. This hike includes challenging and lengthy walking. But if you’re up for the challenge, this well-forested area of the White Mountains will provide a colorful tapestry to enjoy on the way to the top. At the summit, one of the best views in all of the White Mountains awaits, and includes the stunning Presidential Range.

To find the trailhead, take Rt. 16 north into Pinkham Notch and travel a mile or two beyond the Wildcat Ski Area. The 19 Mile Brook Trailhead is on the right hand side, and well marked. A fee is required to park.

Mount Washington Hiking

Mount Washington

Difficulty: Difficult

Roundtrip Mileage: 8.2

This is the mother of all hikes in New Hampshire. From the summit of Mount Washington, you will literally feel as though you are on top of the world. There is no better spot to view the blanket of fall color than from the observation deck on the summit. Please note that due to extreme conditions Mount Washington has been the site of thousands of injuries, and over 100 documented deaths. Only the most experienced and prepared travelers should journey this mountain on foot; it literally commands the respect of all who travel. We urge you to visit the Mount Washington Observatory’s website before your journey to acquaint with the conditions and the forecast.

To find the Tuckerman Ravine Trailhead, take Rt. 16 north into Pinkham Notch and park at the Pinkham Notch Visitor’s Center. Hiker registration is recommended.

With a great fall foliage season forecast for New Hampshire, it’s a great time to start planning your adventure. Again, we urge to you be safe when you decide on hiking for your fall foliage enjoyment. Bring the right gear, and be sure to bring your camera!

We look forward to seeing you soon!

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