There are hundreds of hiking trails throughout the White Mountain National Forest. Some lead to lakes and ponds deep in the woods, others to beautiful waterfalls, and still others to the summits of majestic mountains. One of the best parts about hiking is kicking back after your hard work and having lunch at the top, looking down into the Valley and across at the surrounding mountains. However, not every hike has the payoff of an incredible view from the top! Some summits are wooded, meaning the view after your long hike is limited (or in some cases, non-existent!). How can you ensure you get a great view after your hike? It’s simple: use the 52 With a View list!
The 52 With A View List
This hiking list is a compilation of 52 hikes in New Hampshire that feature incredible views from their summits! 52 WAV also serves as a great introduction to the many ranges of the White Mountains. It will take you on a tour of Crawford Notch, the Pemigewasset Wilderness, Franconia Notch, the Sandwich range, and Pinkham Notch, among many other beautiful areas. The list features a wide range of difficulties, so you can hike some of the shorter trails to get in shape for the longer hikes (see our recommendations below). And there is a group on facebook dedicated to hiking the list, so you can always check in with fellow hikers about the latest trail conditions or to pick up some tips!
Suggested Hikes for Beginners
There are several hikes on the 52 with a view list that are great starting points for those new to hiking, or those who are out of practice and want to put some conditioning in. The shortest hike on the list is Mt. Magalloway, which is a hike of less than 2 miles round trip. However, it’s very far north, near the border with Canada! For some hikes closer to the Valley, try Pemigewasset in Franconia Notch. This is a very reasonable 3.6 mile round trip hike. Another starter peak is Mt. Potash, just off the Kancamagus Highway. It’s a little under 4 miles, but is not too challenging.
Kearsarge North is a fantastic hike once you are in decent hiking shape! It has an awesome fire tower at the top. If you bring your camping gear, you can even stay there overnight! Just be prepared for company as this is a popular hike at around 5 miles round trip. South Moat is also around 5 miles, and features some grindy hills, but has an incredible 360 degree view from a stone bowl at the peak. The absolute best moderate Mount Washington Valley hike is Mt. Chocorua, which is roughly a 6.5 mile hike. The view from the top can’t be beat, and it feels like a truly epic undertaking when you near the top.
Once you have put plenty of miles in, you’ll be geared up and looking for something more challenging. North Moat is a good entry! It’s a 10.2 mile hike that features views just as spectacular as its sister on the South. Mt. Shaw is not challenging due to its length, but instead because it’s a bushwack without an officially maintained trail! North and South Baldface, when taken together, add up to just under a 10 mile hike that is challenging but enjoyable. The two longest hikes on the list are The Horn and Shelburne Moriah, each at about 11 miles. One you’ve mastered these peaks, no worries – there are plenty of other challenges to overcome!
The most well-known list of New Hampshire summits is the 4,000 Footer list. This list compiles all of the New Hampshire peaks that stand taller than 4,000 feet in elevation. There are a few relatively short hikes on this list, but most tend to be moderate to long. The hikes also traverse rocky, dangerous terrain, so it’s wise to get plenty of conditioning and experience in before attempting this list. The weather changes rapidly above treeline, so be sure to do your research. Some other interesting hiking lists are the New Hampshire Hundred Highest (which adds 52 tall peaks under 4,000 feet to the list), the New England 4,000 Footers (which adds peaks in Vermont and Maine), and for the truly dedicated, the Red Liner list. This entails fully hiking every trail in the AMC White Mountains trail guide.
So, you’ve got your work cut out for you – come on up and get hiking!
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