12 Scenic Hikes Within 30 Minutes of the Notch Hostel

Deciding what to hike when visiting the White Mountains can be a difficult decision. There are so many excellent choices.

Here are some of our favorite hikes near the Notch Hostel, ranging from easy walking trails to strenuous multi-day hikes.

Easy Hikes

Lincoln Woods:

Length: Flat 2.9-mile long walking trail (whole length = 5.8 miles round trip)
Duration: 30 minutes to 4 hours, depending on how far you go
Elevation gain: 300 ft.
Location: Lincoln Woods parking area, off the Kancamagus Highway (NH 112)
Driving distance from Notch Hostel: 12 minutes; 6.9 miles

The Lincoln Woods trail is a scenic walk in the woods along an old logging railroad grade. It is flat and easily accessible. The trail begins after crossing the suspension bridge near the information center. While on this trail, you have the opportunity to visit Black Pond (an extra 1.6 miles round trip) and Franconia Falls (an extra 0.8-1 miles round trip). You can also take the Pemi East Side Trail along the East Branch Pemigewasset River as an alternative, equally beautiful walk.

Artist’s Bluff (2,340 ft.) and Bald Mountain (2,340 ft.):

Length: Complete loop (via Veterans trail, formerly Bald Mountain-Artist’s Bluff Path, and Loop Trail) is 1.6 miles
Duration: 1-1.5 hours with complete loop
Elevation gain: 600 ft.
Location: Trailhead at the edge of parking lot for the Roland Peabody Memorial Slope section of Cannon Mountain, past parking for Echo Lake, and off of NH 18/Profile Road, west of junction with Franconia Notch parkway (1-93) at Exit 34C.
Driving distance from Notch Hostel:  16 minutes; 12.6 miles

These two peaks offer great views of Franconia Ridge, Echo Lake, and Cannon Mountain with a little effort. Both peaks have a rocky scramble to the top, but their unique views are worth checking out. Be careful about staying on the correct trail (red-blazed) to avoid a road walk on NH 18 to get back to your car.

Enjoy a scenic walk in Lincoln Woods. Featuring Star (aka No Shame).
Enjoy a scenic walk in Lincoln Woods. Featuring Star (aka No Shame).
Georgiana Falls (1,250 ft.) and Harvard Falls (1,640 ft.):

Length: 1.6 miles round trip
Duration: 1-1.5 hours
Elevation gain: 350 ft.
Location: Parking is located at the end of Hanson Farm Road on US 3. The trail begins on the right after walking underneath the road tunnel.
Driving distance from Notch Hostel: 9 minutes; 3.8 miles

Georgiana Falls (officially named Lower Georgiana Falls)  is a scenic, uphill walk along a series of cascades that emerges to a pool. The waterfall extends further on a steeper path to Harvard Falls (officially named Georgiana Falls) that overlooks Pemigewasset River Valley and Loon Mountain Range. The extended trail adds another 0.8 miles round trip, gaining 400 more feet  in elevation, and extending the hike for about another 50 minutes or more.

Sabbaday Falls (1,420 ft.):

Length: 1.2 miles round trip
Duration: 30-50 minutes round trip
Elevation gain: 100 ft.
Location: Sabbaday Falls Picnic Area on Kancamagus Highway
Driving distance from Notch Hostel: 32 min; 21.5 miles

This unique and scenic waterfall is part of the Sabbaday Brook Trail (which extends to the Tripyramids, including two of New Hampshire’s 4,000-foot peaks, for a longer, more strenuous hike). The path to and over part of Sabbaday Falls is a gentle stroll and handicap accessible.

An autumn view from Artist's Bluff with Lila, the Notch Mascot
An autumn view from Artist’s Bluff with Lila, the Notch Mascot

Have you done these? Check out these other easy hikes:

  • Three Ponds Loop off Stinson Lake Road (5.3 miles, 600 ft. elevation gain, about 3 hours)
  • Arethusa Falls off 302 (3.0 miles, 950 ft. elevation gain, about 2 hours)
  • The Flume Gorge off 93 at Flume Visitor Center–costs money (2 mile loop)
  • East Pond Loop off Tripoli Road (5.0 miles, 1,000 ft. elevation gain, about 3 hours)
  • Greeley Ponds off Kancamagus Highway (4.4 miles, 450 ft. elevation gain, about 2.5 hours)

Moderate Hikes

Lonesome Lake (2,740 ft.):

Length: 2.4 miles round trip (3.2 if continuing to AMC hut on other side of the lake)
Duration: 2-3.5 hours round trip
Elevation gain: 980-1,000 ft.
Location: Parking at Lafayette Campground parking area off I-93 South; Lonesome Lake Trail begins at the picnic area at the end of the south parking lot
Driving distance from Notch Hostel: 17 minutes; 13.7 miles

Lonesome Lake Trail is a gradual trail that switchbacks to a beautiful lake with views of the surrounding mountains. There is a path that circles the entire lake (0.8 miles), and there is an AMC hut with snacks and drinks at the halfway point, so bring some cash with you. If you’re feeling ambitious, there are different trails that lead up to North Kinsman (4,293 ft.) and Cannon Mountain (4,100 ft.).

Mount Pemigewasset (2,557 ft.):

Length: 3.6 miles round trip
Duration: 3-4 hours round trip
Elevation gain: 1,250 ft.
Location: Flume Visitor Center parking area on US 3 at Exit 34A, starting on bike path, then left
Driving distance from Notch Hostel: 9 minutes; 6.1 miles

The Mt. Pemigewasset trail begins with a gradual incline, then becomes steeper as you near the peak. This popular trail provides amazing views on its bare open summit (continue past the summit to the other side for views of Mt. Liberty and Mt. Flume) and this peak is listed on the 52 With A View list. The Flume Visitor Center also provides snacks and drinks, so be sure to check it out before or after the hike.

View from Lonesome Lake in the White Mountains
View of Franconia Ridge from Lonesome Lake.
Bald Peak (2,500 ft.):

Length: 4.6 miles round trip (taking Mt. Kinsman Trail to spur trail)
Duration: 3-4 hours round trip
Elevation gain: 1,450 ft.
Location: Parking off NH 116 just beyond Tamarack Tennis Camp heading south.
Driving distance from Notch Hostel: 22 minutes; 14.2 miles

This bare ledgy dome is perfect for sunsets, west of the Kinsmans. The mostly moderate climb is worth the views, and offers the potential to tag North and South Kinsman (4,359 ft.) along Kinsman Ridge with a little more effort.

North (2,310 ft.) and Middle Sugarloaf (2,539 ft.):

Length: 3.4 miles round trip
Duration: 2-3 hours round trip
Elevation gain: 1,100 ft. overall
Location: Parking on Zealand Road, off Rt. 302
Driving distance from Notch Hostel: 35 min; 26.9 miles

The Sugarloaves are open summits with stunning views of the surrounding mountains, including Mount Washington and the Presidential Range. Both peaks are great picnic spots, and they offer views of different landscapes, so make sure to check them both out. Middle Sugarloaf counts on the 52 With a View list.

View from Bald Peak in the White Mountains at sunset
Notch owner Serena Walsh enjoying Bald Peak at sunset.

Have you done these? Check out these other moderate hikes:

  • Mount Willard (2,865 ft.) at the AMC Highland Center in Crawford Notch (3.2 miles, 900 ft. elevation gain, about 2-2.5 hours)
  • Blueberry Mountain (2,662 ft.) on Blueberry Mountain trail via Long Pond Road in Glencliff (3.6 miles, 1,104 ft. elevation gain, about 3 hours)
  • Hedgehog Mountain (2,532 ft.) off the Kancamagus Highway (4.8 mile loop, 1,350 ft. elevation gain, about 3 hours)
  • Mt. Crawford (3,119 ft.) off of Route 302 (5 miles, 2,100 ft. elevation gain, about 3.5 hours)
  • Welch (2,605 ft.) and Dickey (2,734 ft.) Mountains off Orris Road in Campton, NH (4.4 mile loop, 1,800 ft. elevation gain, about 3 hours)

Strenuous Hikes

Franconia Ridge:

Length: 8.9 miles
Duration: 6-8 hours
Elevation gain: 3,950 ft.
Location: Off 93-N, parking at Lafayette place/Falling Waters trailhead
Driving distance from Notch Hostel: 11 minutes; 9.4 miles

Named the 6th best hike in the world by National Geographic in 2017, Franconia Ridge is a picturesque hike along a ridge that tackles Mount Lafayette (5,260 ft.), Mount Lincoln (5,098 ft.), and Little Haystack Mountain (4,780 ft.) The loop follows the Old Bridle Path to the AMC Greenleaf Hut, then continues up the Greenleaf Trail to Franconia Ridge. Walk along the ridge trail for 1.6 miles, then descend via the Falling Waters trail back to the parking lot. Some prefer the reverse to start with the steep, slippery climb on Falling Waters.

If you continue along the ridge past Little Haystack, you can also tag Mount Liberty (4,459 ft.) and Mount Flume (4,328 ft.), totaling four 4000-footers on the AMC’s NH-48 list (since Little Haystack doesn’t “count”). Coming down from the Liberty Springs Trail (Flume Slide Trail is not recommended for descent) leads to a parking lot on Route 3, north of the Flume Visitor Center.

Mount Moosilauke (4,802 ft.):

Length: 7.9 miles (via Ravine Lodge Loop)
Duration: 5-7 hours
Elevation gain: 2,650 ft.
Location: Moosilauke Ravine Lodge on Ravine Road, off of Route 118/Sawyer Highway
Driving distance from Notch Hostel: 19 minutes; 10.2 miles

This peak, also on the NH 4000-footer list, provides an excellent 360-degree view of the surrounding area. The most popular, gentlest route follows the Gorge Brook trail to the summit, then descends the Carriage Road and Snapper Trail to complete the loop. Make sure to check out South Peak while following this trail. There are many other trails available to ascend and descend the mountain, some servicing the Appalachian Trail. Beaver Brook trail, closest to the Notch Hostel, follows gorgeous waterfalls, although this steep trail requires a slow, careful descent on the way back.

View from Franconia Ridge.
View from Franconia Ridge looking at Little Haystack and Liberty.
East Osceola (4,156 ft.) and Mt. Osceola (4,340 ft.):

Length: 7.6 miles round trip
Duration: 4-6 hours
Elevation gain: About 2,400 ft. with both peaks
Location: Small parking lot on the right side of the Kancamagus Highway
Driving distance from Notch Hostel: 18 minutes; 11.5 miles

These two 4,000-footers on the NH-48 list may be a challenge, but the stunning views are worth the climb. Along with some steep sections, there is an almost vertical rock climb called the Chimney between the two peaks. There is a way around it to the right if it seems too challenging. The Osceolas can also be traveled to from an easier trail on Tripoli road, but the road closes during the winter.

Pemi Loop: (1-3 days)

Length: Basic loop is about 30 miles (can extend to about 36 miles with side trips)
Duration: Generally recommended as a multi-day hike–about 19-24 hours depending–though some trail run it in a day
Elevation gain: Basic loop is 9,160 ft. (can extend to 10,500 ft. with side trips)
Location: Lincoln Woods Parking area, off the Kancamagus Highway (NH 112)
Driving distance from Notch Hostel: 12 minutes; 6.9 miles

This stunningly scenic loop in the Pemigewasset Wilderness ascends eight different summits on the 48 4000-footer list, each with unique views. There is the potential to bag another four with short side trips.

Most begin this loop with the Lincoln Woods Trail, taking the Osseo Trail at the 1.4 mile junction for a clockwise direction. The basic loop includes: Mt. Flume, Mt. Liberty, Little Haystack, Mt. Lincoln, Mt. Lafayette, Mt. Garfield, South Twin, Mt. Bond, and Bondcliff. Descend down the Bondcliff Trail and then follow the Lincoln Woods Trail back to the parking lot. The loop can be done clockwise or counterclockwise, but clockwise is generally better to do the more challenging Franconia Ridge first and finish with incredible views on the Bonds and an easy descent. Beware the last six flat miles! Many people say that the last part of the hike along the totally flat Lincoln Woods Trail is actually the most difficult part due to fatigue and the trail appearing to be a never-ending tunnel. One tip is to look at your feet and the woods on either side rather than straight ahead to reduce the “tunnel effect.”

Side trips can help tackle these other 4000-footers along the loop: Galehead Mountain (4,024 ft.), North Twin Mountain (4,761 ft.), Zealand Mountain (4,260 ft.), and West Bond (4,540 ft.)

View from Mt. Osceola in the White Mountains
View from Mt. Osceola.

Have you done these? Check out these other difficult hikes:

  • The Presidential Traverse (includes Mt. Madison (5,367 ft.),  Mt. Adams (5,774 ft.), Mt. Jefferson (5,712 ft.), Mt. Washington (6,288 ft.), Mt. Monroe (5,384 ft.), Mt. Eisenhower (4,780 ft.), and Mt. Pierce (4,310 ft.))
  • Mt. Passaconaway (4,043 ft.) off the Kancamagus Highway (10.0 miles, 2,900 ft. elevation gain, about 6.5 hours) AND/OR Mt. Whiteface (4,020 ft.) off Ferncroft Road in Wonalancet (8.4 miles, 3,950 ft. elevation gain, about 8 hours)
  • Mt. Carrigain off of Route 302 (10.0 miles, 3,400 ft. elevation gain, about 6.75 hours)
  • North Hancock (4,420 ft.) and South Hancock (4,319 ft.) off the Kancamagus Highway (9.8 miles, 2,700 ft. elevation gain, about 6.25 hours)
   Featured    General, Trip Reports   , , , , , , , , ,      

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *