25 HIKES 5 MILES OR LESS: WHITE MOUNTAINS



I am proud to present 25 great hikes that are 5 miles or less in the White Mountains region of New Hampshire & Maine! This list is based upon my personal experience of hiking all throughout this region over the last 15 years. Each of these hikes is very scenic and memorable - you can't go wrong with any of them (unless, of course, if you hike them while unprepared in poor weather conditions).

This list is in random order - it is not sorted by rank.

If you would like detailed driving directions and trail guides for these hikes, I recommend purchasing these long-trusted hiking guidebooks:
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ARETHUSA FALLS
STATE TOTAL MILEAGE DIFFICULTY NOTES & HIGHLIGHTS
NH 3.0 miles
round-trip
Moderate Arethusa Falls is arguably the finest waterfall in all of New England; this 160-foot tall gorgeous horsetail-style falls can be combined with a hike to nearby Ripley Falls and a hike up Frankenstein Cliffs; the falls are popular with ice climbers in winter; hiking to Arethusa Falls is a great (and relatively safe) snowshoeing adventure in winter; the trailhead for the falls is off US-302 in Crawford Notch State Park (look for a sign on the highway); en route to Arethusa Falls, take the spur trail to also see Bemis Brook Falls and Coliseum Falls

Arethusa Falls, New Hampshire DIRECTIONS / TRAIL INFO
AMC White Mountain Guide
New England Waterfalls

ARTIST'S BLUFF / BALD MOUNTAIN LOOP
STATE TOTAL MILEAGE DIFFICULTY NOTES & HIGHLIGHTS
NH 1.5 mile loop Easy / Moderate Artist's Bluff provides beautiful views of Franconia Notch & Echo Lake (the one in Franconia Notch and not the one in North Conway); the trailhead for this loop hike is across the street from the Cannon Mountain ski area on NH 18

view from Artist Bluff DIRECTIONS / TRAIL INFO
AMC White Mountain Guide

BALD PEAK
STATE TOTAL MILEAGE DIFFICULTY NOTES & HIGHLIGHTS
NH 4.6 miles
round-trip
Moderate this peak on the shoulder of North Kinsman Mountain offers fine views to the west; this is an excellent snowshoe trip in winter

XXXX DIRECTIONS / TRAIL INFO
AMC White Mountain Guide

BASIN, THE / BASIN-CASCADES TRAIL
STATE TOTAL MILEAGE DIFFICULTY NOTES & HIGHLIGHTS
NH 2.2 miles
round-trip
Moderate there are several great waterfalls on the Basin-Cascades Trail, including Rocky Glen Falls and Kinsman Falls; in addition to the falls on the Basin-Cascades Trail, you'll also pass by the The Basin; using this trail to hike up to Lonesome Lake is no longer recommended since the bridge above Rocky Glen Falls was destroyed and is unlikely to be replaced; the trailhead for all these falls is at The Basin, and there are exists on both sides of I-93 north of Lincoln

The Basin, New Hampshire DIRECTIONS / TRAIL INFO
AMC White Mountain Guide
New England Waterfalls

BLACK MOUNTAIN (BENTON)
STATE TOTAL MILEAGE DIFFICULTY NOTES & HIGHLIGHTS
NH 3.6 miles
round-trip
Moderate Black Mountain in Benton offers one of the finest "bang for the buck" hikes in the western White Mountains; there are excellent views from many different ledges on the mountain

XXXX DIRECTIONS / TRAIL INFO
AMC White Mountain Guide

BOULDER LOOP TRAIL
STATE TOTAL MILEAGE DIFFICULTY NOTES & HIGHLIGHTS
NH 3.1 mile loop Moderate plentiful views are offered along the Boulder Loop trail; take note that a fire in the fall of 2016 may have affected portions of this trail; the trailhead for this hike is near the Albany Covered Bridge on Passaconaway Road off of the Kancamagus Highway (NH 112)

Boulder Loop Trail, New Hampshire DIRECTIONS / TRAIL INFO
AMC White Mountain Guide

BRIDAL VEIL FALLS
STATE TOTAL MILEAGE DIFFICULTY NOTES & HIGHLIGHTS
NH 5.0 miles
round-trip
Easy / Moderate Bridal Veil Falls is one of the loveliest (and easiest) half-day hikes in New Hampshire; this beautiful waterfall is found at the end of the Coppermine Trail; don't miss the Bette Davis plaque (if you can find it - it is about 50 feet off of the trail); the trailhead for these falls is on Coppermind Road, which is off NH 116 just south of the Franconia Inn; a shelter for overnight backpacking is available 0.2 mile east of the falls (free; first-come, first-served)

Bridal Veil Falls, New Hampshire DIRECTIONS / TRAIL INFO
AMC White Mountain Guide
New England Waterfalls

FLUME, THE / FLUME-POOL LOOP / AVALANCHE FALLS
STATE TOTAL MILEAGE DIFFICULTY NOTES & HIGHLIGHTS
NH 2.0 mile loop Easy / Moderate The Flume is an extremely popular hike in Franconia Notch State Park, but it's well worth dealing with all the crowds and the expensive admission fee; expect to see a beautiful gorge and waterfalls along a unique boardwalk trail; hiking The Flume is a right of passage for visitors to NH

The Flume DIRECTIONS / TRAIL INFO
AMC White Mountain Guide
New England Waterfalls

HEDGEHOG MOUNTAIN
STATE TOTAL MILEAGE DIFFICULTY NOTES & HIGHLIGHTS
NH 4.8 mile loop Moderate this loop hike off the Kancamagus Highway (NH 112) offers several fine views from open ledges

Hedgehog Mountain DIRECTIONS / TRAIL INFO
AMC White Mountain Guide

IMP FACE / IMP TRAIL
STATE TOTAL MILEAGE DIFFICULTY NOTES & HIGHLIGHTS
NH 4.4 miles
round-trip
Moderate The Imp offers some of the finest views of the Presidential Range, including Mt. Washington; the trailhead is on NH 16 north of Jackson

view from the Imp DIRECTIONS / TRAIL INFO
AMC White Mountain Guide

LONESOME LAKE / LONESOME LAKE HUT
STATE TOTAL MILEAGE DIFFICULTY NOTES & HIGHLIGHTS
NH 4.0 miles round-trip Moderate Lonesome Lake is a beautiful and remote pond in Franconia Notch; a steady but relatively easy climb brings you to the shore of this lake; once you reach the lake, you can hike around completely around it and also visit the AMC Lonesome Lake Hut (open year-round; lodging available with advance reservations); there are beautiful views of the Franconia Range from the western lake-shore, so try to save this hike for a clear day; access is via the Lonesome Lake Trail, which begins at the Lafayette Place Campground (access via the southbound side of I-93)

Lonesome Lake Hut DIRECTIONS / TRAIL INFO
AMC White Mountain Guide

MOUNT AVALON
STATE TOTAL MILEAGE DIFFICULTY NOTES & HIGHLIGHTS
NH 3.8 miles
round-trip
Moderate Mt. Avalon offers excellent views of the Crawford Notch area; this mountain is often hiked as part of a hike up several 4000-footers, including Mt. Field, Mt. Willey and/or Mt. Tom

XXXX DIRECTIONS / TRAIL INFO
AMC White Mountain Guide

MOUNT CRAWFORD / D
STATE TOTAL MILEAGE DIFFICULTY NOTES & HIGHLIGHTS
NH 5.0 miles
round-trip
Moderate / DifficultMount Crawford offers 360-degree views from its fabulous open summit; the trailhead for the Davis Path, which leads to Mount Crawford and eventually some other peaks, is found off US 302

No Photos On File DIRECTIONS / TRAIL INFO
AMC White Mountain Guide

MOUNT JEFFERSON
STATE TOTAL MILEAGE DIFFICULTY NOTES & HIGHLIGHTS
NH 5.0 miles
round-trip
(via the Caps Ridge Trail)
Difficult Hiking Mt. Jefferson via the Caps Ridge Trail is easily the hardest hike on this list; this hike is extremely difficult even though the total distance is only 5.0 miles round-trip; Mt. Jefferson is one of the northern Presidential-range peaks; the most common route is via the scrambly Caps Ridge Trail (5.0 miles round-trip) off Jefferson Notch Road (open seasonally), but there are other alternative routes (Jewell Trail, for example); 360-degree alpine views; in winter, you must take a different and longer approach to climb Jefferson

Mt. Jefferson, NH DIRECTIONS / TRAIL INFO
AMC White Mountain Guide

MOUNT PEMIGEWASSET
STATE TOTAL MILEAGE DIFFICULTY NOTES & HIGHLIGHTS
NH 3.8 miles
round-trip
Moderate Mount Pemigewasset offers great views from an open ledge at its summit; the trailhead is off US 3, just north of the town of Lincoln and the Kancamagus Highway; one trailhead is located with the parking lot of The Flume

No Photos On File DIRECTIONS / TRAIL INFO
AMC White Mountain Guide

MOUNT POTASH
STATE TOTAL MILEAGE DIFFICULTY NOTES & HIGHLIGHTS
NH 3.8 miles
round-trip
Moderate this out-and-back hike off the Kancamagus Highway (NH 112) offers great views

No Photos On File DIRECTIONS / TRAIL INFO
AMC White Mountain Guide

MOUNT ROBERTS
STATE TOTAL MILEAGE DIFFICULTY NOTES & HIGHLIGHTS
NH 5.0 miles
round-trip
Moderate Mount Roberts is a great family-friendly day hike near the Castle in the Clouds; views are found en route from several ledges and there is also a fine view of Mt. Washington from the summit itself; free parking

view from one of the ledges on Mt. Roberts DIRECTIONS / TRAIL INFO
AMC White Mountain Guide

MOUNT WILLARD
STATE TOTAL MILEAGE DIFFICULTY NOTES & HIGHLIGHTS
NH 3.2 miles
round-trip
Moderate Mount Willard offers wide, scenic views of Crawford Notch; hiking to this fabulous view is an outstanding adventure for first-time hikers; this is a favorite (and relatively easy) winter snowshoeing trip; parking for the trail is near the AMC Crawford Notch Depot on US 302; while you are parked at the trailhead, also consider hiking to other great nearby attractions, including: Ammonoosuc Lake, Beecher & Pearl Cascades, Gibbs Falls, and Crawford Cliff

Mt. Willard DIRECTIONS / TRAIL INFO
AMC White Mountain Guide

NORTH & MIDDLE SUGARLOAF
STATE TOTAL MILEAGE DIFFICULTY NOTES & HIGHLIGHTS
NH 3.2 miles
round-trip
Moderate North & Middle Sugarloaf offer one of the great 'bang for the buck' hikes in the White Mountains; a hike of only 2.6 miles brings you to the summit of Middle Sugarloaf, which offers some of the finest views in the White Mountains from huge open ledges; extend your hike to 3.2 miles in total and you can also visit North Sugarloaf, which offers excellent views from two different viewpoints; access via well-marked trailhead off Zealand Road (open seasonally; located off US 302); the trail to both summits is a moderate climb with a fair amount of elevation gain, and there is also a tall but secure ladder in place on the way to Middle Sugarloaf that those with a strong fear of heights may not appreciate; if you finish this hike and want more, combine with nearby Mt. Willard, which is another classic "bang for the buck" hike

view from Middle Sugarloaf DIRECTIONS / TRAIL INFO
AMC White Mountain Guide

NORTH PERCY PEAK
STATE TOTAL MILEAGE DIFFICULTY NOTES & HIGHLIGHTS
NH 4.0 miles
round-trip
Difficult North Percy Peak is a tough, off-the-beaten-path "North Woods" area hike; hiking to the summit involves steep hiking and also some ledge scrambling, which is dangerous when wet or icy; you can also take a rough path to South Percy Peak, although North Percy is a finer peak

view from North Percy Peak DIRECTIONS / TRAIL INFO
AMC White Mountain Guide

PINE MOUNTAIN LOOP
STATE TOTAL MILEAGE DIFFICULTY NOTES & HIGHLIGHTS
NH 3.5 mile semi-loop Moderate Pine Mountain offers awesome views for the effort involved (this is another very high 'bang for the buck' hike); this mountain is opular with campers staying at the extremely large and nearby Dolly Copp Campground; parking is found at the trailhead for the Pink Link trail off Pinkham B Road (a dirt road that is usually open and passage by all vehicles from May to October); 2.5 miles of the 3.5 mile total distance is done by walking along a dirt road; some minor hand-scrambling is involved on the 0.6 mile southern portion of the Ledge Trail, but most hikers will not find it particular difficult; you can expect to find several excellent outlooks, especially at the top; look for the granite seat for two that someone construction near the top

Pine Mountain, New Hampshire DIRECTIONS / TRAIL INFO
AMC White Mountain Guide

SQUARE LEDGE
STATE TOTAL MILEAGE DIFFICULTY NOTES & HIGHLIGHTS
NH

1.0 miles
round-trip

Moderate Square Ledge provides fine views from a rocky ledge; while you are in the area, yhou can also combine with a visit to nearby Lost Pond (hike Square Ledge last since it has better views); to reach the ledge, take the Lost Pond Trail from the AMC Pinkham Notch Center and then following signs to Square Ledge

No Photos On File DIRECTIONS / TRAIL INFO
AMC White Mountain Guide

WELCH & DICKEY LOOP
STATE TOTAL MILEAGE DIFFICULTY NOTES & HIGHLIGHTS
NH 4.5 mile loop Moderate Welch & Dickey is only two hours north of Boston, and this loop has fantastic views; this is absolutely one of the top 10 "bang for the buck" hikes in New England; do not hike this loop when wet or icy since the open slabs will be very slippery; trailhead access is near Waterville Valley; do NOT attempt in poor weather; arrive early as the parking lot fills up quickly

Welch & Dickey, New Hampshire DIRECTIONS / TRAIL INFO
AMC White Mountain Guide

WEST RATTLESNAKE
STATE TOTAL MILEAGE DIFFICULTY NOTES & HIGHLIGHTS
NH 1.8 miles
round-trip
Easy / Moderate West Rattlesnake offers one of the best lake views to be found anywhere in New England; located north of Squam Lake; access to the viewpoint is via the moderately steep Old Bridle Path; photographs never do this place justice, so you'll just have to make a visit yourself; this trail is closed for most of April and May each year due to the "mud season"

West Rattlesnake, Squam Lakes, New Hampshire DIRECTIONS / TRAIL INFO
AMC White Mountain Guide

ZEALAND FALLS / ZEALAND FALLS HUT
STATE TOTAL MILEAGE DIFFICULTY NOTES & HIGHLIGHTS
NH 5.0 miles
round-trip
Easy / Moderate
(more difficult in winter)
When Zealand Road is open (typically mid-May to mid-October), hiking to Zealand Falls and the AMC Zealand Falls Hut makes for a very pleasant outing with only a modest amount of elevation gain near the end; en route to the falls and hut, you'll walk past beaver ponds; the waterfall is best viewed after heavy rains or early in the spring (May-ish time-frame); lodging is available at the hut, but advance reservations are required; hiking here when Zealand Road is closed requires a 12.5 mile round-trip hike; the waterafll is just below the hut, and you must take a short spur trail to see it; don't miss views from a side path that is next to the hut

Zealand Falls Hut, New Hampshire DIRECTIONS / TRAIL INFO
AMC White Mountain Guide
New England Waterfalls

RUNNER-UPS

Each of the following hikes was a close contender for the 'top 25 hikes' list above. I highly recommend each of these hikes as well.


TRAIL / HIKE STATE TOTAL MILEAGE DIFFICULTY NOTES & HIGHLIGHTS
Crystal Cascade NH 0.6 miles Easy this waterfall on the eastern slopes of Mt. Washington is one of New England's finest; hike to the falls using the Tuckerman Ravine Trail from the AMC Pinkham Notch Center on NH 16 north of Jackson; arrive early (before 8am) or late in the day (after 3 or 4pm) for one of the parking spots close to trailhead
Glen Ellis Falls NH 0.6 miles Easy this is a beautiful 64-foot plunge waterfall in Pinkham Notch off NH 16; there are stairs that bring you down to the base of the falls that can be very slippery when wet or icy, so be careful; there are more waterfalls downstream, although there is no official trail
Greeley Ponds (Upper & Lower) NH 4.4 miles Moderate this is a lovely set of remote ponds between the Kancamagus Highway and Tripoli Road; this is an excellent snowshoeing trip; most folks will hike to the ponds using the Greeley Ponds Trail trailhead on the Kancamagus Highway
Iron Mountain / Iron Mountain cliffs NH 3.2 miles Moderate the views of Mt. Washington and the southern Presidential Range near the trailhead of this hike are great; the views from the cliffs a short distance beyond the summit are also great; the trailhead is on Iron Mountain Road, which is off NH 16
Little East Pond / East Pond Loop NH 5.0 miles Moderate this loop hike off Tripoli Road visits a pair of lovely ponds, including one of my favorites in the Whites: East Pond
Middle Mountain NH 5.0 miles Moderate Middle Mountain and Peaked Mountain are two mountains just to the east of North Conway (they are visible from many places along NH 16 in North Conway); if you hike both of these peaks together, it will be more than 5.0 miles round-trip; the trailhead for both of these peaks is on Thompson Road; here is a trail map of the Green Hills Reserve
Mount Tecumseh (via Waterville Valley resort) NH 5.0 miles Moderate / Difficult Mt. Tecumseh is arguably the best choice for your first "4000-footer" hike in New Hampshire; the trailhead connects with a parking lot within the Waterville Valley ski area; this is an excellent winter snowshoer, but you have to watch out for the occasional backcountry off-trail skiers and snowboarders; views from the summit of Mt. Tecumseh are very good these days because somebody illegally cut down some trees that were starting to restrict the views
North & South Doublehead loop NH 4.0 mile semi-loop Moderate / Difficult this is a steep and sometimes overgrown hike up to several great viewpoints; the loop hike also visits one of the US Forest Service historic cabins (which can be rented in advance); take note that the Doublehead Ski Trail (which is the trail many will hike up) makes for an excellent backcountry ski/snowboard trail in winter
Peaked Mountain NH 4.4 miles Moderate Middle Mountain and Peaked Mountain are two mountains just to the east of North Conway (they are visible from many places along NH 16 in North Conway); if you hike both of these peaks together, it will be more than 5.0 miles round-trip; the trailhead for both of these peaks is on Thompson Road; here is a trail map of the Green Hills Reserve
Rattlesnake Flume & Pool ME 2.2 miles Easy this is an extremely enjoyable hike to one of the finest swimming holes in the White Mountains (although it is typically very cold); access is via a side road off NH 113 in Evans Notch
Ripley Falls NH 1.2 miles Easy / Moderate this gorgeous 100-foot tall waterfall is a slight detour off the Appalachian Trail; in recent years, it has become popular for local rock climbing guides to rappel people down the falls
Sawyer Pond (via Sawyer Pond Rd) NH 4.0 miles Easy / Moderate this hike from Sawyer Pond Road visits one of the most peaceful and scenic ponds in the White Mountains; there's a shelter available near the edge of the pond for overnight guests (free; first come, first-served)

OTHER LISTS BY NEWENGLANDWATERFALLS.COM

Here are some more lists to help you enjoy the awesome hiking trails of the White Mountains region of New Hampshire and Maine.
  • Top 10 Hikes in the White Mountains = link
  • Top 25 Hikes in the White Mountains = link
  • Top 25 Waterfalls in the White Mountains = link
  • Hiking New Hampshire's 4000-Footers = link
  • Hiking New Hampshire's 52 Peaks With A View List = link
  • Hiking Trails of North Conway, New Hampshire = link
  • Backpacking New Hampshire = link
GUIDEBOOKS TO GET YOU THERE

The following guidebooks are trusted resources to help lead you to nearly all of the White Mountains' best hikes. Click on any book to read reviews and/or purchase on Amazon.com. I own (and love) each of these guidebooks.













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