Fall hiking in the White Mountains is always a special time of year because it’s the start of leaf peeping season. The White Mountains of New Hampshire are well-known for fall foliage. The area surrounding the Woodstock Inn Brewery begins to pop with trees brushed with bright fall colors, signifying the end of summer and draws visitors from all around.
Most people head for the Kancamagus Highway for a scenic route through the mountains with many stops to admire the scenery along the way to North Conway. Those who wish to view the leaves from a different perspective have many options for hiking in the Western White Mountain region. Below I will give you my favorite fall foliage hikes, which are suitable for families, beginners and dogs.
Mt. Pemigewasset: This small mountain is also called “Indian Head” for the profile of a man seen in the rock from Franconia Notch. Parking for this hike is at the Flume Gorge and you follow the bike path for a short while before coming to the Mt. Pemigewasset trail. It’s a moderate hike in terms of elevation gain and mileage; approximately 3 miles round trip. It’s one of those “bang for your buck” hikes because when you reach the summit you emerge on a broad ledge that overlooks the Town of Woodstock.
Artist Bluff: This short hike is one of the most popular day hikes in the Franconia Notch region. With dramatic views and an option to continue to Bald Mountain to complete a loop back to your car, this hike is a great option for families and dogs. The hike begins across from Cannon Mountain off Exit 34C in Franconia Notch and is 1.5 miles roundtrip for the loop with Bald Mountain. You may choose to only hike Artists Bluff or Bald Mountain by themselves, but I recommend the loop, which provides you with two different, yet spectacular views, for modest effort.
Welch and Dickey: This hike is slightly more difficult than the ones listed previously due to its length, elevation gain and some steep slab sections that can be challenging. However, the Welch and Dickey loop offers expansive views in all directions as you traverse these two rocky peaks in the Waterville Valley region. The trailhead for this hike is located on Orris Road in Thornton, about half an hour drive from the Brewery. Encompassing 4.4 miles and many spectacular views along the way, this popular hike might be challenging for smaller children, but I have seen many dogs enjoying this trail.
Lincoln Woods Trail: Looking for a more laid back or low elevation hike? Lincoln Woods incorporates the remnants of J.E. Henry’s Logging Railroad, offering a relatively flat walk along the Pemigewasset River. The trailhead for Lincoln Woods is approximately 7 minutes from the Brewery and is a good way to get out and view the leaves without a lot of effort. The trail meanders alongside the river and you’ll find many photo worthy spots amongst the tunnel of trees as you walk. You could even find a nice sunny spot on the river to enjoy a can of Autumn Ale Brew or continue to the Wilderness Boundary 3 miles in.
We hope you’ll be able to get out and enjoy the scenery while fall hiking in the White Mountains before the leaves are gone and the trees are covered in snow!
Have questions or comments? E-mail or come visit me at the front desk! Oh, and don’t forget to stop by the Brewery for food, drinks and good times!
Photos & blog by: Haley Dumont, Woodstock Inn Brewery
Haley is a rockstar employee at the Woodstock Inn Brewery, working the front desk, the restaurant and more. She hikes in her free time and is an expert. Please reach out if you have questions about trails or hiking in the White Mountains.