|View from the summit of Mt Kearsarge North|
This winter break has been so wonderful. I'm realizing that without the studying, I can fill all that time with outdoor adventures. I had another lovely little winter hike in the North Conway area this last week. Mt Kearsarge is located just North of North Conway and overlooks the entire Mt Washington Valley and eastern Whites. This is not to be confused with the 2,936ft Mt Kearsarge in central New Hampshire which is a shorter but more prominent summit.
Mt Kearsarge North is 3,268ft and is a short but steep hike up to a bare summit with a large fire tower. Apparently, fire towers are not as common as they once were but this one has lasted and it makes for a well protected vantage point on a normally windy summit.
Getting to Mt Kearsarge is relatively easy- just turn off Hurricane Mountain Road outside of North Conway and drive about 1.5 miles down the road until you see the small parking lot on the left. It is a *tiny* parking lot for a scenic summit so it fills up quickly. There are few options for parking outside of this area as most the land is private. The trailhead is marked and the trail is easy to follow.
The trail to the summit is 3.1 miles, one-way and can be easily done in 1/2 a day. It does have about 2,500ft of elevation gain which may be too much for some. However it makes for an ideal first winter hike if you don't mind the steepness. The first part is gentle but it quickly ascends up the south side of the summit. We hiked without snowshoes, crampons or micro-spikes but they might be a good idea depending on the conditions.
|Looking towards Bartlett, New Hampshire|
|Looking towards Maine and Pleasant Mountain|
The trail has some fleeting views along the way but pops up to the bare summit at the final 300 yards. In the winter it is windy and cold but the fire tower provides a nice spot for lunch and pictures. Its not often that you're able to spend more than a few minutes on a summit in the Whites! I took could take some great panoramic pictures from the cover of the tower.
|In the way of fire towers, this is a 5-star hotel|
Half day hike, 360-degree views, not too far from North Conway... what more could you ask for? Mt Kearsarge was one of the easier and more enjoyable summits I've hiked in the White Mountains.
Read. Plan. Get Out There!