Winter in the White Mountains of New Hampshire is something special. The contrast of the summits from summer to winter is spectacular, and if you haven’t experienced it yet, you should. Just remember to be careful as the mountains become far more dangerous during the colder months. This article is meant to point out the best hikes for beginners and experts alike.
The Best Intermediate Winter Hikes
Mount Jackson (4,052′)
Trail: Webster-Jackson Trail
Distance: 5.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,150 feet
Duration: 4-5 hours
More Hiking Information: Hiking Mount Jackson
The summit of Mount Jackson is stunningly beautiful. It features views of Mount Washington and Crawford Notch that are incredible. On top of the great views, this is a relatively simple hike with a gradual trail all the way to the summit. Located in Crawford Notch, there is ample parking, and hikes remain unexposed to the elements until very close to the summit.
Mount Pierce (4,320′)
Trail: Crawford Path
Distance: 6.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,400 feet
Duration: 4-5 Hours
More Hiking Information: Hiking Mount Pierce
Mount Pierce is located right next to Mount Jackson, and is often combined with it as a day hike. It shares similar attributes with a gradual trail all the way to the summit, and an exposed summit with stunning views of the Southern Presidentials. The trailhead is located just north of Saco Lake in Crawford Notch. Pierce and Jackson are the perfect intro winter mountains to the NH 4000 footers.
Mount Garfield (4,501′)
Trail: Garfield Trail
Distance: 10 Miles
Elevation Gain: 2,959 Feet
Duration: 4-6 hours
More Hiking Information: Hiking Mount Garfield
Now Mount Garfield actually isn’t an easy hike with 10 miles of distance to cover, and nearly 3,000 feet of elevation gain, but this is a perfect introductory winter hike. It features a very steady incline that is manageable with various switchbacks while gaining elevation. This gradual gain helps make this hike seem a little easier than it actually is. The only very steep sections are located in the last couple hundred feet, and are very manageable. Oh, and the views are absolutely stunning into the heart of the Pemi Wilderness, views of the Twins to the east, and Franconia Ridge to the west.
Cannon Mountain (4,081 feet)
Trail: Hi Cannon Trail
Distance: 4 Miles
Elevation Gain: 2,263 Feet
Duration: 3-5 hours
More Hiking Information: Hiking Cannon Mountain
There are a couple routes up Cannon, starting from Lafayette Campground, or from Cannon Mountain Ski Resort. Both are great options, feature several steep sections, but rise to the summit relatively quickly. The views from the tower at the top are gorgeous. Due to the Gondola, and ski resort, it will be a busier summit than most.
The Best Winter Hikes For Seasoned Hikers
Mount Liberty (4,459′)
Trail: Liberty Springs Trail
Distance: 8.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,150 feet
Duration: 4-6 hours
More Hiking Information: Mount Liberty
Liberty features a stunning rock summit with 360 degree views. The Liberty Springs trail gradually gains for most of the hike, however the last mile gets relatively steep, and can also be quite icy in winter months. The views of Franconia Notch, Franconia Ridge, and the Pemi Wilderness are incredible.
Mount Moosilauke (4,802′)
Trail: Beaver Brook, Glencliff, Moosilauke Trail
Distance: 7.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,100 feet
Duration: 4-7 hours
More Hiking Information: Hiking Mount Moosilauke
Mount Moosilauke has a large exposed summit with some of the best views around. In the winter, the summit can be raging with winds and extremely cold, but the views are worth it. There are various routes up Moosilauke, with two being shorter, but having steep and icy sections (Beaver Brook Trail, and Glencliff Trail). Another longer option (10.2 miles) along the Carriage Road trail is more gradual, but adds mileage.
Mount Lafayette (5,249′)
Trail: Old Bridal Path
Distance: 8.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,805 feet
Duration: 3-6 hours
More Hiking Information: Hiking Mount Lafayette
As the tallest mountain outside of Franconia Ridge, Lafayette stands out and looms over Franconia Notch. The hike is rewarding early on, features an AMC hut along the way, stunning views of Washington, the notch, and the Pemi Wilderness. The hike is exposed about 1 mile from the summit, meaning hikers should be prepared to be exposed to the elements. There are various steep sections where care should be taken.
Best Beginner Winter Hikes
Trail: Champney Falls Trail
Distance: 2.8 miles
Duration: 1-2 hours
More Hiking Information: Hiking Champney Falls
Champney falls is gorgeous, and easily can be hiked year round. It has an especially unique look in the winter months when the falls freeze over. Located off the Kanc, it has lots of parking, and is frequently traveled. There are many nearby trails, and if your up for additional hiking, you can choose to keep on heading up the trail. People often combine Champney Falls with Mount Chocorua, a beautiful summit but difficult winter summit.
Mount Willard (2,865)
Trail: Mount Willard Trail
Distance: 3.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 900 feet
Duration: 1-2 hours
More Hiking Information: Hiking Mount Willard
Willard is probably the most reward per effort hike in the state. The stunning views of Crawford Notch, Mount Willey rising to the south, Webster to the north, and even views of Mount Washington, this hike is a no brainer. Easy to do in any season, it is perfect for nearly all hiking levels. Gradual incline all the way to the summit.
Mount Major (1,786)
Trail: Brook Trail
Distance: 3.6 miles
Duration: 1-3 hours
More Hiking Information: Hiking Mount Major
Mount Major is an extremely popular hike in the lakes region along Lake Winnipesaukee. It features multiple routes up, (some more steep than others) and absolutely incredible views of the lake, Mount Washington and the Ossipee Range. You will find people on the trails at nearly any hour of the day or time of the year, making it far safer than some more obscure peaks.