Spectacular adventures are waiting for you every season of the year in the majestic and challenging terrain of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Winter hiking is one of those adventures! Just remember to be prepared.
New Hampshire Fish and Game reminds hikers to hike safely and be responsible. Your hiking responsibilities include relevant knowledge and proper gear, sharing your hiking plan with a trusted friend (who isn’t joining you for the hike), staying together as a group (when starting as a group, you need to end as a group by setting your pace to the slowest hiker), turning back when necessary, and knowing how to handle emergency situations. The agency has also assembled a list of essential items for overnight trips, groups hiking, hiking above the tree line, and winter hiking on its website.
When adequately prepared, your winter hike will be a perfect adventure. Your hiking group will enjoy a cold beer and steak at the tavern to celebrate (make that a root beer for younger family members). Stories will be told, scrapes and bruises will be nursed, and plans will be made for your next fun winter hike in the White Mountains. Here are some of our favorites.
Easy and Intermediate Hikes
Lonesome Lake Trail, Cannon Mountain: This 1.6 mile hike from the trailhead to the AMC Lonesome Lake Hut will take about an hour and twenty minutes in the summertime. You’ll need a little more time in the winter. It will probably take 2 hours (depending on your pace and ability). Remember to budget time for the walk back.
The trailhead is at Lafayette Campground (1,760 ft.) in Franconia Notch State Park. The trail goes through the campground and climbs part of Cannon Mountain to the AMC Lonesome Lake Hut (2,760 ft.). The hike is considered easy to moderate.
Smarts Brooks Loop, Thornton: This 3.2 mile loop is a popular and relatively easy trail enjoyed by hikers, snowshoers, and cross-country skiers. There are footbridges and waterfalls. The trailhead is located along Route 49 in Thornton.
Bronson Hill Conservation Area, Franconia: If your hiking group is looking to stretch their legs in the winter without climbing a mountain, simply take a 1.6 mile stroll on the Overlook Farm Loop in the Bronson Hill Conservation Area. You will still enjoy beautiful views of Franconia Ridge with just 220 feet of elevation gain. It’s a walk in the park! This hike is considered easy to moderate.
There are a number of trails in the 600 acre conservation area, some sections can prove difficult though most of the trails fall into the moderate category. Just be on the lookout for snowmobilers, as some trail sections are also snowmobile trails.
Advanced, Expert, and Difficult Hikes
Lion Head Winter Route, Mt. Washington: Mt. Washington is the tallest mountain in the white mountains. Hiking to the summit is a difficult enterprise in summer weather, and more difficult in the winter. GearJunkie rate the mountain #8 in the “World’s 10 Most Dangerous Mountains” in a 2018 article. There are hurricane force winds, rapid weather changes, and temperatures of -50ºF and below at the summit. Mount Washington has claimed over 160 lives since record keeping began in 1849. You will need to be an experienced hiker, with all the essential gear, well supplied and in good health to reach the 6,288 foot summit. It will be an adventure you and your group won’t soon forget.
The trailhead is at the Pinkham Notch visitor center. The visitor center will have the weather and avalanche reports (you will want to know before you go). The 8.2 mile round trip hike will take at least 6 ½ hours (4 hours up and 2 ½ hours for the descent) but can take as long as 10 hours even for experienced hikers. Northeast Mountaineering offers guided service for the hike at $295 per person, or $195 per person for a group of two in 2023.
Piper Trail, Mount Chocorua: The Piper Trail will take you to the summit of Mount Chocorua. But it will take more than a minute. It is 4.3 miles from the base to the summit. Take your time, enjoy the trip, and enjoy the view. It is considered a moderate hike in the summer (with an estimated 3 ½ hour ascent), but things get more challenging in the winter. Your ascent will be a bit longer with snow and ice underfoot. The bare rock faces at the summit start getting icy in November. You will need crampons. This is a fun adventure for seasoned and well prepared winter hikers.
We look forward to helping you with all of your real estate needs in the Loon Mountain area of New Hampshire. You will establish the perfect base camp (by way of your New Hampshire dream home), and embark on the very best White Mountain winter adventures whenever the mood strikes. You will be creating memories that last a lifetime for you and your family. Contact us today!