Welch Mountain and Dickey Mountain
GOOD FOR: Ages 5-8, Ages 9-12

Source:Outdoors with Kids Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont (AMC Books)
Address:Orris Road, Thorton
Hours:No posted hours
Fee: $3 per vehicle

White Mountain National Forest, 603-536-6100, www.fs.usda.gov/whitemountain

Bathrooms: Pit toilet
Water/Snacks: None
USGS Waterville Valley quad; AMC White Mountain National Forest Map & Guide, K5 (AMC)

This perfect, ledgy loop hike up and over two small mountains leads to amazing views of Franconia Ridge, Waterville Valley, and the Pemigewasset Valley.

The granite knobs and open slabs of Welch and Dickey mountains provide expansive views of the surrounding ranges.

This popular hike over Welch and Dickey mountains is perhaps one of the most beautiful and satisfying trips in New England, with everything you could ask for: a mostly gentle grade (with some exciting slabs to climb near the top), excellent views from the ridge, two summits, and the satisfaction of a loop hike! While it may be challenging for the toddlers (although it’s totally possible with an occasional ride from mom or dad), kids age 6 and up will love this hike for the wide-open skies and amazing granite slabs. In bad weather and wet conditions, be cautious on this hike: the slabs can be very slippery and the ridgeline is exposed.

Starting at the trailhead, go right on Welch-Dickey Loop Trail to start a counterclockwise loop. The hike up Welch Mountain is steep in spots and it is much easier and safer to hike up these sections than descend them. Stroll up gradually through the birch and maple forest along a pleasant babbling brook. Soon the trail will begin to climb, and at about the 1.3-mile mark you will come to the first open ledges with views to the south and the Mad River below.

For the next couple miles you will be largely out in the open on granite ledges, ridges, and summits. Continue on up the open slabs to the left. Travelling on granite slabs can be fun and scenic, but keep the toddlers close as a tumble here could have serious consequences. In wet conditions, this section is not recommended. However, in dry weather, the hiking could not be better, with sure footing beneath you and open skies above.

These mountains are known for their open ledges and rock outcroppings, but at one time, this whole area was covered in a thick forest of white pine and oak trees. But these prominent peaks are a target for lightning, and a massive lightning fire in the 1880s and harsh weather conditions denuded the summit. Additional lightning strikes since then have kept the summits and ridge open. Today, patches of blueberries thrive on these craggy ledges from June through August, so be sure to leave time to explore off-trail for these sweet treasures. (Read more about open summits in Trip 29.)

Soon you will come to the open summit of Welch Mountain. There are plenty of great picnic spots and views here: Mount Moosilaukee to the northwest; Waterville Valley and Mount Tecumseh to the east; and the Franconia Ridge to the north. You will see the knobby summit of Dickey Mountain just to the north, with a short descent and a quick climb to reach the summit there. Continuing on counterclockwise from Dickey, descend over the large granite dome with a steep drop on your left—keep the kids close here. Soon you’ll be back into the woods for the last mile of the loop.

Plan B:

You could spend a full day exploring the multiple unnamed swimming and fishing spots along the Mad River that parallels NH 49 up into Waterville Valley. One excellent nearby swimming spot, “The Eddie,” is named and can be located at a Forest Service pull-off on NH 49, 2.3 miles west of the turn-off on Mad River Road for the Welch-Dickey trailhead.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Great dining options abound in this area. A few good taverns, restaurants, and ice cream stands can be found in Campton near the intersection of NH 49 and NH 175, and nearby Ashland has very good options as well.


Get outdoor tips & trips
Yes, I want to receive expert advice on getting my family outside!



Eastern Trail »
Flat, off-road trail through woods and wetland
Black Point Road and Eastern Road, Scarborough

Back Cove and Eastern Promenade Trails »
Off-road recreational trails through Portland
Preble Street Portland

Peaks Island »
Ride the ferry to a seaside bike path
56 Commercial Street, Portland ME

Pleasant Mountain »
Summit southern Maine's tallest peak
Denmark Road, Denmark ME


The Falls on Basin–Cascades Trail »

Hike to waterfalls and a backcountry hut
The Basin, Lincoln NH

Franconia Notch Recreation Path »

Scenic biking in the White Mountains
852 Daniel Webster Highway

Mount Kearsarge »

Magnificent views from a craggy peak
475 Kearsarge Valley Road, Wilmot

© 2023 Appalachian Mountain Club | 10 City Square, Boston, MA 02129
About | Privacy Policy | Contact Us