Hiking: Mount Pemigewasset (Indian Head) via Mt. Pemigewasset Trail | White Mountains, New Hampshire | 5/18/2014

Measuring just under two miles in length, the Mount Pemigewasset Trail brings you to the summit of Mount Pemigewasset (Indian Head), where there are some great views of Franconia Notch to the north, the Franconia Range to the east and southward into southern New Hampshire's Lakes Region.  The hike is not difficult and the 270+ degree view from the summit is worth the exertion of the hike.

There are two trails that reach the summit of Mount Pemigewasset, the Mount Pemigewasset Trail we followed and the Indian Trail.  Both are almost exactly the same length and the difficulty is also about the same.  If you don't mind a roadwalk of about a mile, you could make a loop out of this hike, using both of the trails.  If you were to do so, I would suggest starting at the Indian Head Trail Trailhead and leaving your car there, climbing Mount Pemigewasset, descending on the Mt. Pemigewasset Trail and then walking down Route 3 back to the Indian Head Trailhead.  On our latest trip, we began at the Mt. Pemigewasset Trailhead located at The Flume parking area and then went up and back on the Mt. Pemigewasset Trail.

The Mt. Pemigewasset Trailhead is located at the northern end of the parking lot for The Flume, just off of Route 3.  The trail follows the Franconia Notch Bike path for a short distance and then turns left.  The trail then goes beneath Route 3, crosses a small stream (the bridge was damaged and unusable at the time we hiked the trail), and goes underneath Interstate 93 before beginning to gently ascend the slope of Mount Pemigewasset.  The trail climb steadily, making broad switchbacks up the slope, while crossing several small streams and following stream channels upward.  The hike is very pleasant with the sound of running water helping to drown out the highway traffic below and the fact that the trail follows the streams in many places, makes for a scenic walk as you make your way up the mountain.  Along the way, at around 1.3 miles, the trail passes by a very large boulder and then starts to climb more steeply until it reaches the crest of the ridge.  The trail then follows the ridge crest southward until the junction with the Indian Head Trail.  At this intersection, the Mt. Pemigewasset Trail turns left and in a tenth of a mile reaches the first of the summit ledges of Mount Pemigewasset at about 1.7 miles from the trailhead.

A note of caution, these ledges are very high with a large drop off and they do sort of come upon your quickly as you make your way to the summit from the Indian Head/Mt. Pemigewasset Trail Junction.  If you have a dog with you or small children, you might want to keep them close as you make your way to the summit.  The open rocks were not slippery at all when we were there as it was dry, but it wet conditions, there is more potential for someone to slip and fall on the wet ledges.

That said, you will be well rewarded for the climb up Mount Pemigewasset at this series of rock ledges.  They rise significantly above the treeline below and offer unobstructed vistas of the country beyond.

The true summit of Mount Pemigewasset is a little further east, but the trees surrounding the true summits ledges have grown up significantly and blocked out a lot of the view.  From the summit there are some views of the Franconia Range northeast, but the major views are from the first set of open rock ledges you reach.  Those ledges offer an extensive view to the south, southwest and west, offering views down into the Lakes Region and along the Kinsman Ridge.

We ended up spending the sunny afternoon having lunch and just relaxing on the summit.  It was one of the first warm spring days and it was the kind of place that was perfect to sit back and let it all soak in.

Only downside to this hike is that it given its location and moderate difficulty, the hike is very popular with people who are visiting Franconia Notch.  Don't got on a weekend expecting to find an empty peak!

Otherwise a great hike that is not that difficult with a tremendous view.  If you just have a few hours in the Franconia Notch area, this hike is a great choice that you won't be disappointed in.

AMC White Mountain Guide, 28th: Hiking trails in the White Mountain National Forest (Appalachian Mountain Club White Mountain Guide)For more information on Hiking, Climbing and Skiing in the White Mountains
We have produced a short guide to the recreational opportunities available in Franconia Notch State Park.  If you are looking to hike, the best guide to the trails of the White Mountains is published by the Appalachian Mountain Club.  The White Mountain Trail Guide provides descriptions and maps for all of the hiking trails of the White Mountains.  AMC also produces a map for the trails in the Franconia Notch Region, as does National Geographic in their Trails Illustrated series.