I led a group trip in this area. We are intermediate to advanced hikers who hike all over America and even overseas. Here is my perspective from someone who has introduced many to the outdoors and uncovered hidden gems for those who are only familiar with the big brands.
Most visitors from out of area focus on the Presidentials and Franconia Ridge.. and for good reason. But what they overlook are diamonds hidden in the local fringes.
The Welch-Dickey Mountain Loop is a fantastic short 4.5 hike with two mountains and about 1,600+ elevation gain. Not much but the views, the slabs and ledges are an amazing experience.
There is a $5 parking fee here, and the lots fill up quickly during peak season. There are hard running streams including the one you'll need to cross at the beginning, but the most amazing experience and views will come from your presence atop their ledges and slabs. Be careful here as they are extremely slippery when wet. I'm still nursing a wound when I slipped off a 40' cliff and slid down 20' before arresting myself on the fall because I was too casual on the wet surface.
The trail begins at the back of the lot near the pay station and map. Once you head up the trail it splits into two. Take the right for steeper ascent and more forgiving down. There will also be a stream crossing near the very beginning of trail on right.
There will be an open area that offers up incredible views and a place to catch your breath, but don't mistake this for any of the peaks because it is not.
Getting there is a little out of the way as it's not right off the interstate and takes two or three small roads to get to in the back areas. But it's well worth looking for.
This is a hike filled with locals. Not an overabundance of Mount Washington tourists although there is no road to the top of either Welch or Dickey. That should tell you something. Part of drive involves a gravelled dirt road, in decent condition.. but in heavy flooding rain? Not so good.
Exit 28 off I-93. Upper Mad River Road. Not so far from Squam Lake area, Thorton, Woodstock. Lincoln and Waterville Valley.
Dog-friendly. Easy enough for older kids. Not really for beginners, nor those who get freaked out due to heights. Rangers set up under canopy, in season, at end of parking lot near trail head in case you need info.
WARNING - the outhouse near the front of the lot is the worst smelling outhouse I've ever experienced, as collaborated by three others. I left an air freshener in there as my gift. Using the woods is a better bet. It was worse than staying in a room with four AT through hikers who have not showered in a month.
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