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Hiking the Welch-Dickey Loop in the White Mountain National Forest

Hiking the Welch-Dickey Loop

Hiking the Welch-Dickey Loop

This 4.8 mile loop in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest takes you up and over both Welch and Dickey Mountain. This trail has challenging sections of granite, with some Class 2 scrambling. It’s fun, challenging hike with rewarding views of the surrounding mountains.

Trail Details
Summit Elevation: Welch Mountain 2,605′; Dickey Mountain 2,733′
Distance: 4.8 miles
Time: 3-4 hours
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation gain: 1,802 ft
Dogs: Yes
When to go: Year-round
First, you’ll want to hike this loop counter-clockwise. Trust me on this. There are granite slabs that you’ll have to ascend on Welch Mountain that you will not want to descend. Second, you’ll want to hike this in dry conditions. If it’s wet or icy, skip it, again due to the extensive hiking on granite slabs.

Getting to the Welch-Dickey Trailhead

This is an easy trailhead to reach, less than six miles east of I-93. Head east on NH-49 for 5.5 miles, turning left on Upper Mad River Road. Go 0.7 miles and turn right on Orris Road, then follow it for 0.5 miles to the trailhead. You can get turn-by-turn directions to the trailhead here via Google Maps.

The trailhead has pit toilets, and requires a WMNF pass (an annual National Parks pass will also work) or a $5 day use fee, payable by cash in envelopes provided at the trailhead. The lot has plenty of parking, but this is a popular hike and it can fill up on weekends.

Hiking the Welch-Dickey Loop

The trail begins at the north end of the parking area near the information signs (be sure to check them for the latest warnings and restrictions). You’ll head into the woods for 20-30 feet before you reach the first trail sign. At this point, bear right to take the loop counter-clockwise, starting with Welch Mountain.

The first mile climbs through well shaded forest on a rocky, root-covered trail. There are yellow blazes on trees to help keep you on the trail. Shortly after the first mile, you reach your first expanse of granite. Take a walk to the ledge and enjoy the view. The exciting part is just ahead.

From the viewpoint, the granite slabs get steeper, with some Class 2 scrambling in sections. Follow the yellow blazes, sometimes painted on the granite and other times on the trunks of trees.

Yes, you’ll have to squeeze through this crack and scramble out of it.

It gets a bit easier as you approach the summit of Welch Mountain.

The summit of Welch Mountain is a good spot to take a break and soak in the views. From here, the trail descends to a saddle before climbing again to the taller Dickey Mountain.

Cairn at the saddle between Welch and Dickey Mountain

At the saddle there is one of the largest cairns on the route. Look closely for the continuation of the trail. It’s easy to miss.

Once again, you’ll scramble up granite slabs that are sometimes quite steep. It’s easy to see why most people prefer to hike this loop counter-clockwise, as these sections are much easier to climb than to descend.

The summit of Dickey Mountain, though taller than Welch, has more trees. Still there are plenty of granite slabs where you can stretch out in the sun and enjoy the view.

From Welch Mountain, the trail descends for about a mile of granite that’s thankfully not quite as exciting as what you climbed on your ascent. The trickiest part here is finding the trail, as the blazes are sometimes far and few between. This is where it pays to take your time and check your GPS location periodically to make sure you stay on course.

The final section of granite includes this view, with a cliff dropping off to your left.

And finally you return to dirt… and roots… and rocks. It’s not a smooth trail, but it’s fairly easy to follow.

The trail descends along a ridge towards the trailhead, heading due south. Keep your eyes open for mushrooms along the trail.

At 4.7 miles you’ll come to the junction with the Dinkey Notch Trail. Turn left here to hike the final 10th of a mile back to the trailhead parking area.

At under five miles, this trail is not long and won’t take all day. It has some fun sections that require you to problem solve your way up and down. And the views of the surrounding mountains were stunning.

After our hike, we headed to North Woodstock and stopped at the Woodstock Inn Brewery for lunch (they have a wonderful outdoor patio).

Welch-Dickey Loop Trail Map & Elevation Profile

Download file: Welch_Dickey_Loop.gpx

Welch-Dickey Loop Resources

  • We had cell reception on the summits and most (but not all) of the trail. We had zero cell reception at the trailhead.
  • Note that the mileage stated on the trail signs indicated the loop was 4.5 miles. We recorded 4.8 on our GPS.
  • Check the weather in nearby Campton, NH for a rough idea of what to expect on this hike.
  • Check out the latest hike logs on Social Hiker for current trail conditions.

Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge SeriesThe New England Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge

The Welch-Dickey Loop is part of the New England Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge, a self-paced hiking challenge that takes you up six iconic mountains, each a bit higher and harder. It’s a challenge in itself, or a great way to train for bigger adventures. And your registration help support some great outdoor-related non-profits.

Learn more and sign-up here.

Originally hiked on August 12, 2022 with Joan. 

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