First Whites Hike of the Summer Season: Kinsman Range

Most people start their hiking season in May, typically during Memorial Day weekend. For us, that didn’t happen this year. With weddings (including our own) and a few hiccups (car and health problems), we finally started off our summer hiking in the White Mountains the weekend after July 4th. Our first two attempts were for Mount Cabot and we never summited. We thought with our next attempt of a 4,000-footer hike would best not be Mount Cabot. Save our last attempt for another time – third time’s the charm right? Instead, we opted for North Kinsman (4,293 feet) and South Kinsman (4,358 feet), located in the Kinsman Range in Franconia, New Hampshire.

We began our hike on the Lonesome Lake Trail located in the Lafayette Place Parking Lot in Franconia Notch State Park. The first 1.5 miles are fairly easy with flat, gradual ascending terrain starting by cutting through the campground. It is a very popular hike as many families like to hike to, and stay at, the Lonesome Lake Hut. We were actually surprised to see many families on the trail as it was a rainy day and not all too pleasant to hike in. I was certainly having an off day as it was a combination of not feeling too well and hiking my first 4,000-footer hike in about eight months. It was definitely a slow hike to begin with.

From the Lonesome Lake Hut, it’s a moderate, rocky (and wet) 2.2-mile ascent on the Fishin’ Jimmy Trail to the Kinsman Ridge Trail/Appalachian Trail and another 0.4-mile until the summit of North Kinsman. Nothing too thrilling to see at the summit as it is directly on the trail. We didn’t stop as a Boston AMC group was taking their break on the North Kinsman summit and we would be retracing our steps to descend back to our car.


This is the only indication that you’ve reached the North Kinsman summit.

We continued 0.9 miles on the Kinsman Ridge trail to South Kinsman. This portion of the trail is much more pleasant and easy to deal with as it is along the ridgeline and only a few hundred feet in descending and acceding between the two peaks. We encountered three hikers who were surprised to see others on the trail. Surprise surprise! There are people who will hike – rain or shine. Anyhow, the summit is just off to the east of the trail in an open area. No sign marks the summit but it’s obvious as the trail descends on either of the point as we looked around to make sure. We took a break to eat but it didn’t last long as the weather was still wet and cold. We took our obligatory summit photos and made our way back to North Kinsman to do the same as the Boston AMC group was gone.


Family photo on South Kinsman.

The 2.2-mile descent on the Fishin’ Jimmy Trail was a slow one with steep, slippery rocks to contend with. When I was about ¼ mile from the Lonesome Lake Hut, Chris and Milo turned around to see where I was at as I was taking a little longer than usual. My excuse was that I stopped to eat as I’m not a big fan of eating on the go.

Just a little beyond the junction of Fishin’ Jimmy Trail and Lonesome Lake Trail, we saw some stopped hikers as they saw a single rose off the trail. It was perfectly planted rose that seemed amiss in these New England woods. It was definitely a sight to see but pretty cool. We’ll chalk it up to Sasquatch.


The magical rose.

It was easy peasy from the Lonesome Lake Hut to the Lafayette Place Parking Lot. We were a bit speedier towards the tail end and made it back to the car in good time. Overall, an 11.2-mile easy to moderate hike that can certainly be done with family members of all ages. With the Kinsman mountains complete, that means five more to go! The countdown is on.

32px-Black_Paw.svgA Dog’s Walk:
The Kinsman’s are an easy to moderate hike. The easiest parts are the 1.5 miles on the Lone Lake Trail as they are flat and gradual ascending terrain and the 0.9 miles on the ridge to South Kinsman as they are also pretty flat. The only difficult part would be the 2.2 miles on the Fishin’ Jimmy Trail and 0.4 miles on the Kinsman Ridge Trail as the terrain is more moderate and steep but certainly do-able. No need to boost your pooch for any part of this hike. There’s also plenty of water along the trail, including at the Lone Lake Hut, in case your dog needs some hydration. Overall, a great, long hike for your furry companion that will surely tucker them out by the end of the day! Milo surely loved it despite being wet and muddy from all the rain.




The Start of Fall Hiking Season: Mount Hancock and South Hancock

As the days get shorter and nights get cooler, the foliage is beginning to show its brilliant colors. As a result, many make the annual trek to the Kancamagus Highway to leaf peep. Not us. We’re there for the abundant hiking. Mother Nature’s beauty is just a perk.

We started off the cold and windy weekend brought to us by Hurricane Joaquin by heading to Lincoln, NH where we hiked South Hancock (4,319 feet) and Mount Hancock (4,420 feet). Both are located in the Pemigewasset Wilderness between Franconia Notch and Crawford Notch. Our journey started at the infamous hairpin turn on the Kancamagus Highway with a gorgeous view of the surrounding area at the Hancock Overlook parking area with only two cars already there and their owners getting a slight head start to us.

The Mount Hancock and South Hancock hike is an easy to moderate hike. We started off at the far end of the parking lot and crossed the highway to begin on the Hancock Notch Trail. The first 3.6 miles are relatively flat and wide with multiple stream crossings. There was one stream crossing where Milo and I weren’t in sync and he took a little unwanted dip in the water. We eventually caught up with the first set of hikers and passed them. With the multiple stream crossings and Milo’s eagerness to cross them before me (with leash in hand), I handed him off to Chris and they went on their speedy way. I eventually caught up with the last set of hikers (a couple with a poodle that had an annoying, yet important as he was off leash, cowbell on) and we were right on pace when we came to the junction for Hancock Loop Trail and Cedar Brook Trail. Chris and Milo were waiting just off to the side and we continued on after a short break. It was a bit of leap frog between the couple and Chris and Milo (I was slightly behind) so eventually when I caught up to them at the Hancock Loop Trail, Chris opted to ascend South Hancock Mountain first so we wouldn’t continue the frogging.


First up…South Hancock

It was a slow and cold 0.5 mile hike to South Hancock. Once at the summit, we took some obligatory photos, bundled up and ate a quick lunch. Not wanting to linger any longer, we hoofed it the 1.4 miles on the Hancock Loop Trail to Mount Hancock. Once at Mount Hancock, we booked it out of there as soon as we took photos and descended. The 0.7 miles descending Mount Hancock are more difficult than the path to South Hancock (I would certainly recommend taking it first, which is what most of the later hikers chose to do). It is a steeper slide with plenty of loose rocks to navigate. I took my time on this as by the time I caught up to Chris and Milo at the start of the loop they were too cold to wait for me at any more junctions and continued on to the parking area without me.


Bundled up on Mount Hancock

It was a quiet and serene walk back to the Hancock Overlook Parking area with a few more hiker encounters. By the time I made it back (only 10 – 15 minutes behind Chris, might I add), the parking area was overcrowded with leaf peepers. Chris mentioned seeing a pair of leaf peepers where the woman went to pose outside with the wonderful backdrop while her husband stayed in the car and snapped a photo from his seat. Lazy much? Any who, it was a relatively short hike – 9.8 miles in 6 hours. Hiking in the cold certainly makes you speedier! It also helps that a majority of the hike is on fairly flat terrain.

[Fun Facts: The mountains are named after John Hancock, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. They also used to be the most remote and inaccessible peaks in the White Mountains, before the Kancamagus Highway was finished.]

32px-Black_Paw.svgA Dog’s Walk:

Mount Hancock and South Hancock is an easy to moderate hike. The 1.8 miles on the Hancock Notch Trail and the first 1.8 miles on the Hancock Loop Trail are relatively flat with multiple water crossings that your pooch should have no problem with. If s/he hates water like Milo, there are plenty of rocks to hop on. If not, the water isn’t too deep to wade in and enjoy. The only portions of the hike that are a bit difficult are the 0.5 miles to South Hancock and the 0.7 miles descending Mount Hancock. The 0.5 miles to/from South Hancock is easier compared to the trail to/from Mount Hancock as the rocks and tree roots are bigger and easily navigable. For Mount Hancock, there are lots of small, loose rocks and dirt sprinkling the trail. This is much harder for humans than dogs! As always, be sure to give your dog breaks and water (plenty of it with the multiple water crossings).

BONUS – I’ve decided to break out my GoPro and use it on our hikes. I’m brushing up on my video editing skills so no music for the first video. One step at a time…Enjoy!



© Elizabeth Tran 2011-2017