The Welch and Dickey Loop in Thorton, NH is my go-to hike half day hike in the White Mountains. I grew up just an hour away and if I am nearby in Autumn, I always hike it in peak foliage season. Why? If you can’t devote a whole day to the trail, Welch and Dickey delivers 4,000 footer views at less than 3/4 the elevation. For the majority of the four mile loop, you are exposed on ledges and treated to open sky.
Length: ~4.1 miles
Time: Average online: 3 hours; We hike it in 2 hours.
Elevation Gain: 1,650′ (cumulative)
Welch Mountain: 2,605′
Dickey Mountain: 2,734′
Recommended Route: Turning right at trailhead split to summit Welch first.
This year, I went on a perfect autumn day. The air was crisp in the best, cliché way. It was windy, but there were so few clouds in they sky that I hardly noticed. You could see for miles. In New England, the weather is always changing. Our seasons are ephemeral, which makes them that much sweeter. This kind of day does not come around often, and there was no place I’d rather be than on a mountain. It’s funny, sometimes I think I’m missing out by not living on the west coast. Yet, when I’m in White Mountain National Forest, or sitting by a lake in Maine, or contemplating the history of 300 year old town, I know that every area of our country has a lot to offer if you’re open and curious.
1.9 miles into the trail, you reach the summit of Welch Mountain. Above and below are some views from the top.
While this loop is relatively short, it’s not boring – and not just due to the views. The granite faces and ledges are very steep at times. (My parents like to call them ‘thigh burners.’) There are boulders to scramble and places you need to use all four limbs. On top of physical exertion, there are lots of wildflowers in the spring and summer, as well as wild blueberries in July.
Just a half mile from the summit of Welch, you reach the summit of Dickey. From there, you can look back at Welch and consider the relativity of life.
My favorite part of the loop is hiking down Dickey. You get to walk down the ledge you see from the summit of Welch and it’s a great place to sit and take in the view. I wore Vuarnets for the hike and cursed myself for not bringing the polarizer filter for my camera lens. Vuarnet is known for their mineral glass lenses that cut glare and reflection; I wish I had a camera in my brain so I could share how I saw that day.
Needless to say, if you live in New England and you have a half day to hike, I highly recommend the Welch and Dickey loop. You’ll pop out of the woods refreshed, exercised, and (hopefully) inspired.
Photos (C) 2016 Gale Straub
Gale Straub is the founder of She Explores. Learn more on her Website.
Note: This piece is sponsored by Vuarnet Sunglasses and based on the writer’s unbiased experience. Sponsored pieces help support and maintain She Explores.