I spent an extended weekend back in my adoptive home state of Maine and enjoyed a little bit of hiking in New Hampshire. Mt Willard is neither a far hike nor a difficult one but provides a fine view of the infamous Crawford Notch

Still a fine view, even in the dead of winter
Perhaps it was questionable to visit Maine in mid-February but I was in the mood to enjoy winter for more than just some walks on the Chicago lakefront. Even the tourism brochures tend to stay away from trying to lure people to the frigid north this time of year but to me it's been a private playground. I love winter hiking in the Whites because the trails are almost always empty and the snow makes everything just as gorgeous as it is in the summer. On this day, I had the Mt Willard Trail to myself.

Mt Williard is hardly the summit that the nearby presidential range offers. It doesn't even break 3,000' but for what it lacks in altitude, it makes up for with a view straight down into Crawford Notch. For this reason, it makes the "New Hampshire 52 With a View" hikes.

Snowy trails all day

Mt Willard has the same trailhead as Mt Tom and Mt Field which also have iconic views of Crawford Notch. In fact, all the hikes from the notch are great in the winter as they are usually well cut snow shoeing trails with clear directions. Here is the map-

The snow was constant all day which prevented more extensive hikes but this one was perfect, even with a few inches falling throughout the day. Both the trail up Mt Field and Mt Willard were well cut. There aren't many views going up the mountain but there's the Centennial Pool and a small gorge on the way up. They're both nice resting spots. Blazes were pretty recently placed as opposed to other trails in the Whites which can sometimes be quite ambiguous.

At the summit, I was greeted with a fierce wind but nevertheless a fantastic view into the great gorge. I've driven through this way so many times that I forget how deep and narrow it is. Mt Willard is an excellent mountain to give some perspective to this glacially carved valley. I prefer this view over any other in the area save for the Presidentials. 
Snowy but wonderful
Looking down into the gorge
Nicely pruned trail for snowshoeing

The shear walls of Mt Webster to the North and the walls I was standing above were an impressive sight. There are some fine ice climbing and bi mountaineering routes in this area which are infrequently climbed- most stick to Frankenstein Cliff and Cannon Mountain. I wished I had the gear with me that day to explore those routes. But for this time I was just enjoying the view, despite the frigid temperatures.

The "52 with a view" list is an excellent list of easier hikes. I'm glad to see this one on there, as well as the nearby Mt Avalon. I've been disappointed by some of the 4kers in the past but these hikes always deliver a good time.

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