A short, steep but pleasant hike suitable for anyone
Expansive views from the summit
Mt Kearsarge is a relatively shorter summit compared to the rest of what is in New Hampshire however its steep rise compared to what is in the rest of the area makes for a great hike. (Note: there is another Mt Kearsarge of the North Conway area which is also a short, steep hike with a firetower and great views. This particular Kearsarge is in the Lake Sunnapee Region of New Hampshire. Given its ease of hiking and multiple trail heads, its one of those hikes that is great any time of year. I happened to hike it during one of those fall days where the mountain was exploding with color but its a great winter hike too.
Even the drive up was pretty
Hiking Map Usually I'll try and do a GoogleMaps hiking map for every hike I do but the map linked above is perfect. There are three options for hiking this mountain. The first is from the North via Winslow State Park. (Sidenote: the gate closes in the winter which adds another two miles or so to the hike). The parking lot itself is actually a great view too- if you're not feeling up for the hike up the mountain, there's a great place to sit and enjoy a picnic. The best way to hike from Winslow State Park is to take the Winslow Trail up and the Barlow Trail down. The way up is steep and doesn't have much views but gets to the summit in approximately 1.1 miles. The Barlow Trail is 1.7 miles down and can be done as a loop with the Winslow. The Barlow Trail is far more scenic and I enjoyed moseying down and stopping frequently.
I love the layers of color that come with increasing elevation
Views down the Barlow Trail
The other option is the trail from the South via Rollins State Park. Again, this park closes in the winter which adds substantial mileage to the hike should you want to hike from the south. Regardless, the Rollins Trail is a nice 1/2 mile trek up the mountain and also offers some views here and there. The Lincoln Trail is the final option which is really a scramble up a sort-of-maintained trail. I don't want to knock it, but if you're looking for a more pleasant hike, any of the other options work perfectly.
Gorgeous Views!
As for the summit? Well its just perfect! There is a firetower at the top which is occasionally staffed and open to the general public. Its enclosed too which means if there's wind, you can take a nice break and enjoy lunch without worrying about freezing. The fire warden was also quite helpful in pointing out local landmarks. The bare granite slabs of the summit also have ample opportunities for a good old summit nap or just sitting and enjoying nature. Not bad for a 2.8 mile hike, right? Read. Plan. Get Out There!