Updated: Aug 6, 2020
The sun is shining, the birds are singing and it's looking very green... this can only mean one thing... summer is (almost) here! So let's get outside and explore the beautiful world around us, starting with a few of my favorite hikes you definitely need to try this summer.
If you've ever felt that hiking just isn't your thing, hear me out. The White Mountains has so many great hikes ranging from super easy to super hard, so no matter what your skill level is, you can absolutely find one that's perfect for you.
Here are just a few of my favorite hikes in the area ranging from easiest to hardest (in my opinion) that everyone will love. If you haven't done these already, definitely add these to your summer hikes bucket list!
1. Artists Bluff & Bald Mountain Loop
1.4 miles | approx. 45 minutes - 1 hour | 10 minute drive from resort | Easy
For beginners or people who are just looking for a quick hike with a great reward, look no further than Artists Bluff and Bald Mountain.
The summit of Artists Bluff has a gorgeous view of the Franconia Notch, Echo Lake and Cannon Mountain. The hike up will only take you about 10-15 minutes, but the view is so beautiful that once you get there, you won't want to leave.
When you've finished taking in the views of Artists Bluff, continue the trail and loop over to Bald Mountain. You'll end up hiking up a little, then down, then back up to reach the summit, but if you time it just right, it's the perfect spot to watch the sunset.
With a pretty easy and straightforward trail, this hike is perfect for all ages and experience levels!
2. Indian Head Profile (Mount Pemigewasset)
3.5 miles | approx. 2 hours | trail begins behind the West Village Cottages or at the Flume | Easy/Medium
The Indian Head Profile trail is easily one of my all-time favorites. And I'm not just saying that.
I mean look at that view! And it only takes about an hour to get up there.
The trail itself is not bad, it starts off with a gradual incline as you follow a small river and eventually turns steep right before you reach the summit. It's a really nice balance of ease and challenge. So if you're an experienced hiker looking for a shorter hike or the family member looking for something everyone will enjoy, look no further than the Indian Head Profile.
You could even make this hike a little longer by packing a lunch and planning for a picnic at the summit. There's a lot of area to explore when you get up there, and there are some flatter areas and shady spots that are nice to relax in.
Bonus: If you're staying in one of our West Village Cottages this trail is right in your backyard!
3. Cannon Mountain via Kinsman Ridge Trail
4 miles | approx. 3.5 hours | 7 minute drive from resort | Medium/Hard
This is a great hike that's not too long, but not too short. Although the Kinsman Ridge trail is pretty steep and demanding, it is well worth it. You're hiking with a view almost the entire time.
I hiked this trail with my friend at the end of October 2019. When we started the hike, there was no snow on the ground and it was a pretty nice late fall day. But as we ascended, it seemed that almost out of no where we were in a forest completely covered in snow and ice.
Unlucky for us, we didn't have micro-spikes, so this definitely made the trail a little more challenging, but not impossible. If you're thinking of hiking this trial I would definitely recommend doing it in the summer and preferably not after a rain storm, as it was also pretty muddy.
Rather than trying to hike down through the tricky conditions, we decided to take Cannon's Aerial Tramway* instead, which was awesome. We got all the beautiful views the entire way and we didn't have to maneuver all the way down a slippery trail!
* Please visit the Cannon Aerial Tramway website for the most accurate information on their opening date and information on this season's schedule.
4. Franconia Ridge
8.6 miles | approx. 7-8 hours | 5 minute drive from the resort | Hard
The Franconia Ridge has caught the attention of many hikers near and far, and it's not hard to understand why. With 360 degree views of the White Mountains and three peaks to explore, this trail is great for intermediate hikers looking to push themselves a little further or experienced hikers wanting a fun day trip.
I hiked this trail with some friends back in September 2018 and after doing some research, we decided to take the Falling Waters trail to Little Haystack, hike over to Lafayette and Lincoln, then come down Old Bridle Path.
Falling Waters is not super hard at first. It has a gradual incline that follows along a river and leads to some really pretty waterfalls that work as the perfect spot to stop for a break or as a nice mid-trail photo op.
The path does become pretty steep as you continue ascending and especially right before the summit. I would definitely suggest that you be prepared for some wind once you reach the top because without the trees, you are completely exposed to the elements. The wind was so strong we felt like we were going to fly right off, and we hiked like that for about a mile as we made our way over to Lafayette and Lincoln. So get your wind breaker ready and be prepared to hold on as needed!
The views along the way were absolutely gorgeous and really made up for the harsh wind we had to face. It is important to remember though, that mountain weather can change unexpectedly. And when hiking such tall peaks, always be prepared with layers, even if hiking in the summer.
The descent down the Old Bridle Path was not too difficult. You're met with some awesome views along the way, making the long trek down well worth it!
5. Mount Washington
Approx. 10 miles | approx. 8 hours | 30 minute drive from resort | Hard
Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail up, Jewell Trail down
This is a hike that you're going to feel in the morning... and the next morning... and probably the morning after that. As "home of the world's worst weather" and the tallest mountain in New Hampshire, Mount Washington is MUST for those who enjoy hiking in the White Mountains.
I hiked Mount Washington at the end of August 2019 and it was awesome. It was the tallest mountain I had ever attempted to hike and was a real test of physical and mental strength.
I went with two of my friends, who are not experienced hikers, and we had no real problem maneuvering the trails. After doing some research, we decided on taking the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail up and the Jewel Trail down.
The trail up was really not bad at first, it was just a steady incline that followed a cute brook and eventually led to a little waterfall where we stopped for snacks. But once we continued after our break, the rest of the trail was very steep. From what I remember, it seemed like there were just rock stairs as far as the eye could see, and it was pretty much like that the entire rest of the way. But the hard work did not go unrewarded, the views along the way were absolutely stunning and really distracted us from the fact that our legs were on fire.
We were also really lucky to have had beautiful weather... that is until we started reaching the summit. We stopped at the Lakes of the Clouds Hut* for lunch before hiking the final stretch and when we were finished, we looked up noticed some clouds rolling in right around the peak. But we didn't worry too much. Optimistic that the clouds would pass, we kept going, but ended up hiking the entire rest of the way in a deep fog.
We didn't even know we were at the summit until a big tower and a parking sign appeared from out of the clouds, then eventually the visitor's center and observatory came into view. Needless to say, there wasn't much of a view when we got up there. BUT when it is nice they say you can see all the way to Connecticut! I can only imagine how nice that must be...
Taking the Jewel Trail down was difficult at first, mainly because we were hiking down a new trail in a dense fog. Also, it was pretty much just a field of rocks and crawling over them while trying to find the trail markings was really difficult when we couldn't see very far in front of us. But we persevered and as we made our way down the clouds thinned out and some stunning views came into focus for the rest of the hike. Once we got below the tree line, the rest of the journey wasn't bad at all. It wasn't very steep and was actually a pretty easy hike down, just really long.
* For Mount Washington's most updated information regarding their operations for 2020, please visit their website. AMC Huts are closed this season, so be sure to plan your hikes accordingly. More information here.
If you haven't done these awesome hikes yet, definitely try them this summer. You could even knock out two or three of these in one weekend if you're really determined!
Have you hiked these mountains before? What's your favorite White Mountains trail? Let us know in the comments!