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Best Peak for a First Time Winter Hike?
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NHExplorer
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 4:37 pm    Post subject: Best Peak for a First Time Winter Hike? Reply with quote

Hey Everyone,

I'm looking to get into winter hiking this season, and was wondering what a good first time winter hike would be.

I am experienced with three season hiking and have used snowshoes on the flat Lincoln Woods trails. I would go with a friend of mine who has experience with winter conditions, and I do own snowshoes, basic microspikes, and the proper clothing. I do admit, that I have a slight fear of icy rocks and am hoping to learn how to face and conquor it.

Can the winter hikers on this board let me know about what their first winter hike was, or what they'd recommend for a good first time confidence builder? I know that the conditions can vary greatly baseed on the snowpack and weather conditions, and I obviously will only do it if weather looks good.

Thanks for any advice!
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scooter
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can't go wrong with Pawtuckaway, either North or South or both together. Definitely good for confidence building.

If you want to go bigger here are some other recommendations - roughly in um, ascending, order -
Mt Major
Mt Roberts
Black Cap
Mt Crawford
South Moat
Mt Avalon
Mt Tom
Mt Clinton
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New Hampshire
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, in general if you remove the Presis and Franconia Ridge from consideration, then just about anything you would find easy in normal seasons would be so in winter (assuming roads are open....but even then you would just then be looking at a longer, but flatter, non exposed and easy extra walk). Add the Presis back into the mix and, as long as conditions are not brutal, Jackson, Pierce and even Ike can be pretty decent hikes not in the realm of impossibility. Anything on Franconia Ridge too would not be too bad again assuming conditions are not that bad.

As for suggestions for easier winter hikes (non 4K since there are already good ones above on that score) to get the ball rolling:

Sugarloaves off Zealand Road.
Willard
Hayes (on the end of the Mahoosucs)
Pagus
Indian Head
Stinson
Cardigan

Brian
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hiker0200
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Any of the following would be excellent IMO:

Stinson Mtn
Mt. Willard
Pack Monadnock
Lake Solitude/White Ledge
North Pawtuckaway loop

If I had to pick one, I'd probably recommend Willard. It's short enough that it's not a trudge, but the views are excellent. If you think that alone isn't worth the trip, you could hike Stinson Mountain off exit 26 (I-93). Easy to moderate grades and good views.

If you're looking for a lowland hike that is on the long side, you could make some nice combos in Pawtuckaway SP.

Good luck!
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Beckie and Prema
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since I've just timidly done a few, I may have a feeling for where you're at. Prema and I did Willard with our microspikes 2 years ago MLK Day. It was a nice intro, and the parking was close by. Later that winter, we snowshoed Mt. Tom, same vicinity. That was nice, but remember the temp will drop and the winds will pick up as soon as you're out of the trees. Our other winter stuff was mostly walks in the woods. We did do Waumbek on Easter in wintry conditions. It's not a big long hike, so that may be good (don't know how far you'd have to drive).

Oh geez, I almost forgot, and this is a good one with mega-views and decent climbs, but nothing too major. Mt. Hedgehog, the UNH trail (there are two Mt. Hedgehogs, so make sure it's UNH, off the Kank). Again, it was spring, but lots of snow - we used the shoes on this one - it's a beautiful trail, views of Passaconaway, Chocurua, etc. Have fun!
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

scooter wrote:
Can't go wrong with Pawtuckaway, either North or South or both together. Definitely good for confidence building.

If you want to go bigger here are some other recommendations - roughly in um, ascending, order -
Mt Major
Mt Roberts
Black Cap
Mt Crawford
South Moat
Mt Avalon
Mt Tom
Mt Clinton


I second all that. I've been spending a lot of time in Pawtuckaway lately and it's great for winter hiking when they have enough snow if you don't have time to get farther north. Lots of varied terrain and scenery. A month ago they had 18 inches of snow, 10 days ago they had 90% ice on the trails and 6 inches or so off trail, and today was 4 inches of fresh sticky snow on top of that ice, which made bare booting possible my entire route with a slip n slide here or there. Might have been wise to pull out the spikes but I lived to tell the tale (see trip report later once the kids are asleep Wink )

But based on where you are located that would be an easy drive and spikes would be perfect until more snow arrives. Trails are well marked, although usually in white (which made route finding slightly challenging today in the unbroken snow stuck all over the trees) but you can do anything from a few hundred foot climb up Middle mountain to a complete loop of the ring dike over North and South mountains which is 7 miles with 2000 feet of climbing. Conveniently I have both those trips in one TR here from exactly one year ago today in remarkably similar conditions to what:s there right now if you're interested Very Happy If not, the AMC Southern NH guide does a good job covering many of the trails there too.

http://forum.hike-nh.com/viewtopic.php?t=5788

Oh, and my first hike in full on winter conditions was East Osceola, but eh first calendar winter hike was Mt. Pierce, but I didn't even know Pawtuckaway existed then.
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hwc1954
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 12:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can recommend both Mt. Pemigewasset and Lonesome Lake Trail for good winter hiking with either MicroSpikes or snow shoes. Both are probably easier trails in winter than in the summer and short enough to test your time/distance without getting caught by the early sunset. No icy ledges to climb. Both have spectacular views on a nice day. Both also have easy winter parking.

Mt. Willard would be excellent, too.

I tend to agree with the suggestion in another thread that up and back is probably "safer" than a loop hike in the winter because you can always turn around if you come across uncomfortable conditions (or if you just run out of time).
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Kathy
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 9:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hwc1954 wrote:
...up and back is probably "safer" than a loop hike in the winter


Generally accepted to be a good practice for beginners especially. When backcountry skiing as a beginner I was advised to always hike up what I planned to ski down. That way there were no surprises.

Of course, if you have a fairly small loop you still have the option of turning back at any point.
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Kathy
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 9:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting resource

http://www.newenglandwaterfalls.com/4000footers.php


worth checking out. I do not necessarily agree with every rating, but a boatload of work and a good resource. YMMV
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thegibba
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My first winter peak was Mt. Moriah from Bangor rd.

(one way according to WMGO)
Distance 4.52 mi
Time 3 hr 58 min
Elev Gain +3411 ft
Elev Loss -185 ft
Elev Change +3226 ft

It was well packed out when i went. Put on microspikes and it was basically a long ramp to the peak with a few PUDs thrown in for good measure. The views along the way i would stack up against other favorites like Pierce any day of the week. Excellent views into the Great Gulf and Northern Pressis. The trail is practically sheltered the entire route minus a few just off trail ledges with the views and the summit. The summit is just a few moments away from the shelter of the trees.
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bsinc1962
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mt Tecumseh is always a good one to start with. Round trip is only a little over 4 miles. Steady not steep. No exposed ledges. Ski area is right there. Really good for testing out what to wear and how to adjust your body temperature. Like pretty much everyone, my first winter hike I over dressed, sweated like crazy, then got cold.
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hwc1954
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hah. I had to buy a bigger backpack for winter hiking, just to accommodate the increased number of clothing layers, gloves, hats, etc that I feel like I nee to carry. As it turns out, I usually end up dressng much lighter than I ever would have imagined, but god help me if I'm every forced to stop for long dressed like that. Hence, the bigger backpack with a ridiculous number of layers...

Looks like hiking conditions should take a marked turn for the better across NH this week with snow and then consistent cold instead of the rain/freeze/snow/rain/thaw cycles that have made for miserable trail conditions for a month. Not sure I'll brave the single digit temps mid-week, but I'll be out somewhere towards the end of the week. I'll probably either explore Pawtuckaway or cruise up and do Lonesome Lake if it's a bluebird day.
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Cracky
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Pierce via Crawford Path is always a great place to start. It's one of the 4Ks, but it's fairly benign. Don't let the 4Kness intimidate you. It's sheltered most of the way up, not too steep, and there are usually other hikers there to help out or offer advice.

The views for the effort are incredible, too!
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Desmo1
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 8:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Our first winter hike was Blue Job. We have been taking the dogs to Northwood Meadows for the past few winters, but wanted to get out and do some more challenging hikes.

We chose Blue Job as it was close to home and a short hike too. We got to test out the new pack and microspikes. Of course, we went on Saturday...right in the middle of a storm!

Sunday, we hit up the Indian Head trail up Mt. Pemi. It was a fairly easy hike up, but the view at the summit wasn't so great due to light snow coming down. All in all, it was a good trip, and we hit up Moat Mountain brewery for a late lunch.
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KellyK
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 8:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would put a vote in for Kearsarge North. Not too long, great views from the top on a sunny day, and a fire tower that can be used to warm up/get out of the elements/have a snack.
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