New Hampshire

The Best Scenic Hikes in the White Mountains | The Best 5

Heading to the Whites in search of stunning views? Our list of picks for the Best Scenic Hikes in the White Mountains is a good place to start!

By Marty Basch

Aug 30 2013


Franconia Ridge

Photo 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.

Best 5 Scenic Hikes in the White Mountains

Mount Eisenhower

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.

Welch & Dickey Mountains

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.

Mount Willard

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.

Franconia Ridge
Franconia Ridge
Photo Credit : Taylor Thomas

Franconia Ridge

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.

Mount Chocorua

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?