My Top 5 Mountain Hikes of 2015

Although I didn’t get nearly as many mountains hiked as I had hoped this year, I crossed another seven 4,000 footers off my list and saw many amazing, memorable views. As the year draws to a close, I’ve looked back and determined my top 5 mountain hikes of the year.

1  Mount Pierce/Mount Eisenhower Loop – This was one of the most challenging and rewarding hikes I did this year. Mount Pierce and Mount Eisenhower are both 4000 footers that are part of the Presidential Range in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest. Both have great views, but the vista from the summit of Eisenhower was incredible. Definitely worth the 10 mile, 6-7 hour hike.

mountpande2     mountpande1

2   Black Cap Mountain – One of my first hikes after the thaw this year, we hiked several miles up a closed road before reaching the mountain trail, and this was still an easy hike (in comparison to most mountains). Though this mountain is small (2,369 feet), the view is mighty! Black Cap Mountain offers a spectacular view and is a great hike.

black7     black10

3   Mount Chocorua – I hiked up Mount Chocorua via the Champney Falls Trail, which is a gorgeous hike along waterfalls until you reach the switchbacks leading to the top of the mountain. The easternmost peak of the Sandwich Range, the views from Chocorua’s 3,490 foot summit spread far and wide, allowing for a gorgeous look of the surrounding landscape.

chocurua7     chocurua9

garfield4   Mount Garfield – I’d be lying if I said this was one of my favorite hikes, but it was one of my favorite views, which made the monotonous, grueling hike worth the effort. At 4,500 feet, Mount Garfield is the 17th highest of the New Hampshire 4000 footers. This was the first time I hiked a snow covered mountain, which I didn’t love, but the view at the top was so incredibly gorgeous that I completely forgot the horrors of the trail (until I was back on it on the way down). I was momentarily transported to an almost magical winter wonderland. Then I was back on the trail. The beauty was short lived, but it’s definitely a memory I’ll cherish forever.

garfield1     garfield5

5     Mount Field – I peak bagged Mount Field along with Mount Willey, and was supposed to head over to Mount Tom, too, (all 4000 footers in the Crawford Notch region) but the weather turned and that didn’t happen. Usually I have a vendetta against a mountain anytime the hike doesn’t go as planned, but this time I didn’t. Perhaps that’s why I liked this hike – because it was a lesson where I grew and gained maturity. Maybe, but it’s more likely that the memory of the creepy birds landing on my hands with their taloned death grip grew on me (it did). I’d like to go back and have another chance with those birds. This time I’d try harder to put my whole birds are dinosaurs that sometimes peck your eyes out thing out of mind and instead try to enjoy becoming intimately acquainted with my new feathered friends as they land on me like I’m in a Disney movie.

willey1     willey4

Black Cap Mountain


blackblack7May came to New Hampshire bringing a much awaited spring with it. After a rough, snowy winter, flowers and bird songs and days where you can venture outside without a thick winter jacket on seem like the things that dreams are made of. black10We were anxious to find something to climb. I was more anxious to wake my muscles gently from their long winter nap, as no amount of hiking flat black3terrain – even when it’s covered in waist deep snow – can prepare you for the change that occurs when you go from walking onward to walking upward.

black5I chose Black Cap Mountain for our first climb of the year. At only 2369 feet, Black Cap offers a huge payout in amazing views in exchange for minimal effort. The 2.2 mile

round trip hike can be accomplished in just
an hour or two. Sounds perfect, right? Only
when we got there, the road the trailhead was black12
black14off of was still closed for winter. Argh. But the trailhead was only 2.3
miles from the gate – what’s an extra 4.6 miles added to the trip, especially when it’s paved road and the actual hike is so easy? Yeah. black6Hurricane Mountain Road is a very steep stretch of asphalt.

black2After walking up the road, hiking up the mountain was easy. The day was beautiful  and the view was definitely worth it. We
had the mountain (almost) to ourselves with the exception of a mountain biker, an Ukranian couple, and a baby black bear we missed seeing. After such a harsh winter this climb was a perfect re-introduction to what I hope will be a season full of fantastic adventures.

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