Hiking New Hampshire
by Larry Pletcher (Falcon Guides)
© Larry Pletcher/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
Wonderful Fall loop with blue skies and no wind. Constant views, all directions. Long and high enough to be satisfying all day, not so hard as to exhaust. We were ahead of the most intense colors by about a week, I guess.
Had been this way once in early Spring through some snow. Br'er John and I took a wrong turn early in the woods and went up Eastman (saddle) instead of South BF Knob. Boot trouble prevented summits & loop, but we did come down the giant steps--glad we had poles and crampons.
This is a tough hike. There is a reason Foghorn Outdoors has it listed as a 10 out of 10 level hike. They suggest not attempting this hike in the winter without technical experience, I would strongly agree.
The hike to the shelter is a good one and some of the vistas are good, but a hike to the summit, although the most challenging of the trip, is worth the view. You will have some of the best views of the North East. You can see Tuckerman's Ravine on Mt Washington clearly from the summit, which still had snow, and well into Maine.
I would second the notion of doing the loop in a clockwise fashion, coming down the rock face of South Baldface would be extremely challenging, although the decent from North Baldface is no cake-walk.
We did an overnight with camping, not at the shelter, but rather in the pine forest between South and North Baldface. There is no camping above tree line in the Alpine Zone, but between the summits you drop back into a timbered section, which does have a site which is regularly used for camping.
This hike will challenge you both physically and mentally.
Fall hike was just great. Views are wonderful and the loop was only moderately difficult.
Great hike! The 360 degree views from the two separate peaks I can imagine would have been absolutely amazing; unfortunately, it was drizzling and visability was only about 30ft the day we did the hike. Highly recommend taking the left fork around the loop as the scrambles up the shear granite walls is much more like rock climbing than hiking, and would be much less fun trying to come down them than going up. The only drawback was the ubiquity of rocks in the path, which had you locking your ankles for hours on end. I learned, however, that these rocky paths are standard in the northeast, so you're not going to find any better any where else. Enjoy!
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