Looking to experience the majestic Western White Mountain’s fall foliage up close and personal?
Lace up those hiking boots and explore our trails! Whether you are looking for an easy walk, a half day jaunt or a full day climb, the beautiful landscapes of the Western White Mountains will surely not disappoint! Add in a pop of our famous fall foliage and they become awe-inspiring. We have compiled a short list of recommended hikes for both leaf-peeping visitors on a time crunch and adventurous visitors looking for an immersive Autumn mountain experience.
*Please refer to the AMC White Mountain Guide when attempting any hike or walk in the White Mountains. Plan ahead, know your limits and let someone know where you’re going. Make sure you’ve packed the 10 essentials, and know the 7 Leave No Trace Practices. Your safety is your own responsibility.
Easy Walk/Day Hikes:
Lincoln Woods Trail (5.8 miles roundtrip)
Located right off the Kancamagus Highway (Rt. 112) just east of the Town of Lincoln, it’s no wonder the Lincoln Woods Trailhead is one of the most popular hiking hubs in the White Mountains. The 2.9-mile out-and-back trail follows the Lincoln Woods Trail along the old East Branch and Lincoln Railroad parallel to the Pemigewasset River until it reaches the Pemigewasset Wilderness boundary. If you’re looking to explore a bit more, consider taking the Franconia Falls Trail 0.2 miles to the picturesque Franconia Falls at it’s intersection with the LW Trail at 1.8 miles, or the Black Pond Trail to tranquil, secluded Black Pond 0.4 miles at it’s intersection with the LW Trail at 2.6 miles. The contrast of fall leaves against the river are sure to fill your camera with endless memories!
Hiking with Fido? Instead of taking the Lincoln Woods Trail from the Lincoln Woods parking area, follow the Eastside Trail, which follows the East side of the Pemigewasset River 3 miles to the Franconia Brook Tentsite (20 tentsites, first come-first serve). Though this side of the river doesn’t offer as many side trail options, it does offer a bit more peace and tranquility than the busy Lincoln Woods Trail.
Note: There is a $5 day use fee per vehicle. A self-pay station run by the USFS is on the west side of the parking area. Bring cash or pay ahead online here: https://www.recreation.gov/sitepass/74457
Artist’s Bluff/Bald Mountain (1.5 mile loop)
Looking for a quick hike to an awesome fall view? Artist’s Bluff & Bald Mountain are easy to access and quick to bag. Head up Route 93 to exit 34C to Route 18 and park in the hiker lot across from the Peabody Slopes. After 0.25 miles, a short spur path on the left takes you 0.1 mile to the summit of Bald Mountain. Heading back to the main trail, you will follow a short ridge and eventually take a short, unmarked path to the left to the summit of Artist’s Bluff. Take the main trail back down to Route 18 near Echo Lake to complete the loop. From these viewpoints you’ll be able to view the foliage over Franconia Notch from a step above.
Greeley Ponds (4.4 miles roundtrip)
The Greeley Ponds Scenic Area can be reached after a 2.2 mile moderate hike on the Greeley Ponds Trail, which leaves Rt. 112 just a few minutes East of the Town of Lincoln. Most return back the way they came, but if you’re able to car spot, you can continue on the Greeley Ponds Trail over to the Livermore Trailhead in Waterville Valley for a longer trip. Foliage lovers will enjoy the numerous deciduous trees that lace the conifers around the water.
Lonesome Lake (3.2 miles roundtrip)
Accessed through the South Parking lot of Lafayette Place Campground in Franconia Notch State Park, the Lonesome Lake Trail offers extraordinary views towards Franconia Notch and the Pemigewasset Wilderness. The 1.6 mile hike to the lake will get your blood pumping, but the switchback-style trail provides ample opportunities for breaks. Take a refreshing plunge into the lake and visit the AMC Lonesome Lake Hut before heading back down the way you came. Get to the trailhead early – this one is popular!
Mt. Pemigewasset (3 miles roundtrip)
A moderate 3 mile roundtrip hike on the Mt. Pemigewasset Trail starts at the parking area for the Flume (Exit 34A off I-93). Follow the blue-blazed trail from the bike path. Bring a lunch and spend some time enjoying the extensive sea of fall foliage from the summit ledges.
Difficult Full-Day Hike:
Mt. Moosilauke (7.6 miles roundtrip, 3,150 ft. elevation gain)
The Beaver Brook Trail leaves the height of land off Rt. 112 west of the town of Lincoln and provides access to both Mt. Moosilauke’s 4,802 summit and the Appalachian Trail. The Beaver Brook Trail features numerous gorgeous waterfalls – which isn’t surprising due to it’s extremely steep grade. At 1.5 miles, the trail passes the Beaver Brook Shelter, offering a nice spot for a quick snack and rest. The hard-earned summit offers 360 degree views – you can’t escape the autumn canopy here! Only experienced hikers should attempt this route, and caution should be taken at all times – especially during wet weather.
Mt. Flume via Osseo Trail (11.2 miles roundtrip, 3,150 ft. elevation gain)
Climbing Mt. Flume via the Osseo Trail requires parking at the Lincoln Woods parking area ($5 day use fee per vehicle) and taking the Lincoln Woods Trail for 1.5 miles until it’s junction with the Osseo Trail. From here, the trail begins to climb moderately, and then steeply. Near the top, there are wooden staircases to help with erosion. Follow the Osseo Trail back down the way you came, taking in the fall forest as you descend. Bring plenty of “fuel” for this one – it will certainly guarantee a good night’s sleep!
Looking for more resources to help you enjoy Fall in the Western White Mountains? Look no further!