- Get some fresh air in New Hampshire's White Mountains
- Hike beautiful trails with stunning viewpoints
- Enjoy local food at top restaurants & breweries
|Day 1||Drive to Franconia Notch & Welch-Dickie Loop||Lincoln|
|Day 2||Hiking along the Franconia Ridge Trail||Lincoln|
|Day 3||Lonesome Lake & the Kinsman Peaks|
Day 1: Drive to Franconia Notch & Welch-Dickie Loop
The White Mountains are only 2 hours north of Boston (the Pinkham Notch area is about 3 hours). Drive straight along Route 93 until you reach Campton, where you'll take Route 49.
The Welch-Dickie Loop offers a lot of bang for the buck on the 4-mile loop. For a longer hike, continue further on Route 49 and take the trail up to Mt Osceola.
Depending on the time, you can either start with the hike or grab a snack/coffee at Mad River Coffee House. For a full lunch before the hike, The Little Red Schoolhouse offers panoramic views from its unique treehouse setting (Route 3, across the river).
The 4-mile Welch-Dickie Loop offers some of the best rewards for the effort. Most other trails in the Whites require more elevation gains before the views start to open up. With Welch Dickie, you'll be rewarded with panoramic views after just over a mile. Hike the loop counter-clockwise to reach the first viewpoint earlier in the hike.
Continue along the ridge to the top of Welch Mountain and then to Dickie Mountain, completing the loop by continuing down the ridge back to the parking lot. (if you started early in the day, head to The Little Red Schoolhouse restaurant for lunch).
For the afternoon, explore a bit of Franconia Notch, take another short hike, or explore Lincoln and North Woodstock. There are a number of flat paths along the Pemigewasset River, including the Basin, with several cascades and other unique rock formations created by the rushing water. Drive east on route 112 to Lincoln Woods where you can walk along a bigger branch of the river.
In Northern Woodstock, the Woodstock Inn Brewery serves a variety of local brews and pub fare, and Pemi Public House is another great option. Both offer outdoor seating. In Lincoln, consider Black Mtn. Burger Co.
Spent the night in either Lincoln or North Woodstock and make it your home base for the next couple days of exploring the notch. There are also several camping options, such as Lafayette Campground (great location for the next days of hiking), or Hancock Campground along the Kancamagus Hwy (10 min east)
Day 2: Hiking along the Franconia Ridge Trail
Today you'll hike along the Franconia Ridge Trail, which offers some of the best views in the Whites. The climb is steep and challenging, but the unobstructed views are well worth it as you hike along the ridge.
Start the day with a stop at White Mountain Bagel Co. in Lincoln. Enjoy breakfast and coffee and order a couple of bagel sandwiches to go for a well-earned lunch later on the trail.
After breakfast, drive north to the Lafayette Campground Area and look for parking. The trail starts on the eastern side of Hwy 93.
Start the hike on the Old Bridle Path towards the Greenleaf AMC hut (2.4 miles to the hut). Stop at the hut to admire the views, refill on water, or have a snack. The AMC hut, ideally located for hiking, offers full-catering services in the summer months, and guests can stay in the bunk room and enjoy a cooked dinner and breakfast. If you can get a reservation, it's a great way to spend a few nights in the area (note: you must reserve very early).
From the hut, it's another mile of exposed climbing to the top of Lafayette Mountain. Once atop, you could head north a bit to Mount Garfield and add another notch to your Four Thousand Footer belt along the Presidential Range. Alternatively, continue south along the ridge, with panoramic views in all directions. A popular path begins at the Falling Waters trailhead (from Little Haystack Mountain), with several cascades along the hike down, connecting to your starting trailhead.
To extend the hike, continue along the ridge to Mt Liberty (or even to Flume). You can hike down from either of these peaks without going back along the ridge, and you can make the way back to your car by following a bike/running path that parallels Route 93.
Head back to Lincoln/North Woodstock for some food and to rest the legs. If you can handle the cold water, head to the Basin area to soak your feet.
Day 3: Lonesome Lake & the Kinsman Peaks
Hike on the western side of the notch today, starting at the Basin parking lot (you can also begin at the Lafayette Campground trailhead, which is a bit shorter to the lake). To get to the trailhead, you must drive north and turn around, the parking lot can only be accessed while driving south on Hwy 93.
The Basin & the Basin Cascade Trail
Start the day at the Basin, a large pothole carved by water, which Henry David Thoreau called “perhaps the most remarkable curiosity of its kind in New England.” From here, hike along the Basin Cascade trail along the river, passing a variety of small waterfalls and cascades. At just over 2 miles, you'll reach Lonesome Lake.
Lonesome Lake AMC Hut
Enjoy a break at the Lonesome Lake AMC hut. This hut operates as a full-service hut in the summer and self-service in the fall and winter months. Stop for a snack, to refill water, and to use the bathroom. If you want to indulge in a more relaxing day, spend more at the lake (there's a loop around it), and head back down the trail the way you came, or make a full loop by hiking down to the Lafayette campground and then back to the Basin trailhead along the Pemi Trail along the water (also part of the Appalachian trail).
If you're looking for more vigorous exercise and top-notch views, continue up the Fishin' Jimmy trail to the Kinsman peaks (about 3.-3.5 miles away, quite steep). You'll arrive at a fork near Kinsman Pond, and have one final climb to the north peak. At the top, you'll be rewarded with a stunning vista back over the notch and incredible views over the full Franconia Ridgeline.
You can continue a bit further to the south peak as well, which will give better views south and west of the Whites. When you're done, start the long hike back towards Lonesome Lake and your car.
Stay another night in the Whites, or start your drive back home (about 2 hours from here to Boston).