Standing atop a rock faced mountain I gazed out over a grand expanse of green. Any direction I looked, I saw a blanket of green trees with mountains pushing them higher into the sky. This is one of my favorite things to see. I was standing atop a lookout while hiking the Welch Dickey Loop in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
If you find yourself in the southern whites of NH, this is definitely a cool hike to check out.
Locals will tell you that if you are hiking the loop to go in a counter clockwise direction. If you are looking at this trail head sign, go right. This is definitely the preferred direction to hike this trail.
The trail is steep, slippery and exposed so make sure you are prepared. Good hiking shoes, lots of water, sunscreen and snacks are essential.
The trail can be dangerous and after reading other hiker tales, bringing a first aid kit is always a good idea. You never know when an injury may occur.
Trail markers told us to go ‘that-a-way’ and for good reason because we went by past a unique ecosystem.
In high alpine areas, delicate plants and ecosystems make their home. An alpine area is defined as the trees being eight feet tall or less. The White Mountain National Forest has over eight square miles of alpine zone, the largest area east of the Rocky Mountains.
The national forest service did a good job with the trail construction by building these rails to keep people from wandering off the path.
These mosses and other alpine plants are hundreds of years old. Many of these plants started as seeds that were left over by the glaciers thousands of years ago. Some of these plants have to be alive for at least 25 years before they even start to bloom.
Climbing our way through the hardwood forest of yellow birch, beech, maple and hemlock, we emerged from tree line to the stunning views this alpine hike offered.
And then we continued up…
(do you see Chris in the photo above?)
…this ridge line…
…and then headed back down.
This was the ideal hiking day, a bit of cloud cover, a little bit of wind and just a perfect hiking day.
The allure of a hike like this was much of the time we were trying to guess where the trail route would take us. There is nothing like standing at a view point, looking out over nothing but green, and thinking, how are we getting down from here? Where is the trail going to lead us? We would point and look and guess and think, ‘Oh no, there’s no way the trail will take us that way.’ Sometimes it did and sometimes it didn’t. You can see as indicated by the red line part of the route we hiked.
We came back down below alpine level and back into the deciduous forest and past this massive rock. It’s another unique feature of this hike and not something one gets to see every day.
Even though the parking had a handfull of cars when we started the hike, we encountered no other people than a grandfather teaching his granddaughter about hiking. I think we got luckier than most. I wanted to move to the national forest and never leave. This hike reminded me of a quote by one of my favorite authors, Edward Abbey, who said,
“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”
Thanks Ed. It was. And it was just what we needed.
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If you go:
This link has good info on the Welch Dickey Hike.
The hike is in the National Forest. The fee use is only $3 per car! Deal of the century! Or buy one of the park passes if you will be spending more time in the national forest.
There are private campgrounds and national forest campgrounds throughout the area.
Because this trip was really a celebration of our 8 year anniversary, we splurged and stayed at the Sunny Grange B&B which was awesome! Thanks Christina and Troy!