There are all kinds of
hiking opportunities in the valley. Some are little more than
walks. Others require intermediate to expert skills. Many follow
old logging roads, rivers and streams that pass by rapids,
cascades, and waterfalls. Trails also lead to bogs, beaver ponds,
and other areas where travelers may trace for themselves evidence
of wildlife. At times, deer, elk, and other animals may actually
cross the path of hikers in the forest.
Trails may not always be
blazed but are easy to follow on well-trodden footpaths. Many are
signed and distinguishable to even first time hikers. Grades vary,
but generally there is good footing, and a little effort is well
worth the magnificent mountain and ledge vistas that come into
view just around the next bend. Hiking here is a three-season
activity, and visitors are cautioned that trail and weather
conditions may change quickly in the mountains, especially in the
spring and fall. The White Mountain National Forest contains 1,200
miles of hiking trails, 45 lakes and ponds, 650 miles of streams
and more than 20 campgrounds.
Located off Rte. 18 in Franconia Notch State Park north of
Echo Lake. Great views for very little effort. 1-1/2 miles;
about 1-1/2 hours, depending on your pace.
Off Rte. 3 in Franconia State Park. Starts at the Basin and
ascends along beautiful Cascade Brook. 2 miles; about 1-1/2
Great views with relatively little effort. On Dugway Road,
just off the Kancamagus Highway. A brochure keyed to stations
along the trail is available. 2.8 miles; about 2 to 3 hours.
Here's an easy, almost flat, path leading to rocky
cascades. The trail begins on a dirt road located off West Side
Road, about 0.7 mile north of Cathedral Ledge Road in Bartlett.
1/2 mile; about 40 minutes.
The beauty of a 100-foot waterfall is only one-hour away.
Located on a side road off Rte. 302 in Crawford Notch (1 mile
south of the Wiley House site), this trail starts on the Ethan
Pond Trail, then branches out on its own. 1.2 miles; about 1
Lafayette Place in Franconia Notch. Very good footing on
an old bridal path with an easy to moderate grade. 3-1/4 miles.
|Old Bridal Path:
An easy route up west Rattlesnake for views of Squam Lake.
Just off Rte. 133 between Holderness and Center Sandwich. 1.8
miles. Allow 1-1/2 hours.
An easy 0.4 mile walk to a picturesque series of cascades
in a narrow flume. Descriptive Forest Service signs point out
rock formations. There's a picnic area at the trailhead. Drive
15 miles west of the Saco Ranger Station. A 20-minute to 1-hour
|Mt. Hedgehog via
The UNH Trail:
Here is a loop hike via the UNH Loop Trail to Mt. Hedgehog.
The trail is moderate as it ascends to the 2,500 foot summit of
Mt. Hedgehog with its spectacular vista of the Swift River
Valley in every direction. Count on 4 to 5 hours roundtrip.
13-1/2 miles west of the Saco Ranger Station on the Kancamagus
Highway, opposite the Passaconaway Campground.
|Mt. Potash Hike:
Here is a more difficult trail that involves some ledge
climbing to the 2,660-foot summit of Mt. Potash. Great views of
the Swift River Valley and surrounding mountains in all
directions. Located 13-1/2 miles west of the Saco Ranger Station
on the Kancamagus Highway (Rte. 112). Begin on the Down's Brook
Trail across from the Passaconaway Campground and follow the
trail to the summit. The Mt. Potash Trail then takes a sharp
right and soon crosses Downes Brook. The route over ledges is
marked with yellow paint. A more difficult 4 miles; allow for a
For information on weather
and trail conditions, contact the Appalachian Mountain Club on
Rte. 16 at the Pinkham Notch Visitors Center (466-2727) or The
White Mountain National Forest, Saco Ranger District Station at
the intersection of Rte. 16 and the Kancacmagus Highway
(447-5448), just south of Conway Village.