Welch Mountain and Dickey Mountain Loop

Mountains:  Welch Mtn. (2605'), Dickey Mtn. (2734')
Trail:  Welch-Dickey Loop Trail
Region:  NH - Central East  
White Mountain National Forest, Waterville Valley
Location:  Thornton, NH
Rating:  Moderate/Difficult  
Features:  Summits, views, ledges, rock scrambles, brook, loop hike
Distance:  4.5 miles  
Elevation Gain:  1650 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Actual: 3:20   Typical: 3:00  
Outing Duration:  Typical: 5:00  
Season:  Summer
Hike Date:  07/19/2003 (Saturday)  
Last Updated:  11/11/2010  
Weather:  Clear, 60-70 degrees
Author:  Paul Gronwall
Companion:  Carol and Bear (Labrador Retriever)

Route Summary   

This is a loop hike across the summits of Welch and Dickey Mountains, providing many views along the way as the trail winds its away across open ledges. It follows the yellow-blazed Welch-Dickey Loop Trail all the way. The different branches of the loop are commonly referred to as Welch Mountain Trail (the right-hand fork which leads most directly to Welch); and Dickey Mountain Trail (the left-hand fork which goes directly to Dickey Mountain.)

  • Start on the Welch-Dickey Loop Trail which will fork after just 15 yards.
  • Take the right-hand branch to approach Welch Mountain first. (The return trip will be via the opposite leg.)
  • After 1.3 miles on the Welch-Dickey Loop Trail, you will reach the open ledges and extensive views on the southern flank of Welch Mountain.
  • Continue following Welch-Dickey Loop Trail and you will reach the summit of Welch Mountain 0.6 mile later where you will be treated to a 360-degree panorama.
  • Descend the opposite side of the peak, continuing to follow the Welch-Dickey Loop Trail in a northerly direction.
  • You will then need to do some uphill climbing before reaching the summit of Dickey Mountain 0.5 mile from Welch's peak. Dickey Mountain offers views of Franconia Ridge and Franconia Notch. Shortly before the summit, there will be a poorly marked 0.2-mile spur path on the right leading to an open ledge also with an outlook to the north.
  • Still on Welch-Dickey Loop Trail, descend from Dicky's peak in the opposite direction from which you climbed it.
  • After 2.1 miles, you will be back at the fork near the beginning of the loop. Bear right to return to the parking lot.

Place         Split
Welch-Dickey Loop trailhead (1060') 0.0 0.0 0:00 0:00
Welch Mtn. summit (2605') 1.9 1.9 1:45 1:45
Dickey Mtn. summit (2734') 0.5 2.4 0:20 2:05
Welch-Dickey Loop trailhead (1060') 2.1 4.5 1:15 3:20



Map of hike route to Welch Mountain and Dickey Mountain (map by Webmaster)

Trail Guide   

The climb is generally easy with a few steep stretches. Trails are well marked with yellow blazes on the trees and on the exposed granite, along with occasional cairns. The leg leading to Welch Mountain includes climbing up several ledges and a couple of tight squeezes between slabs; the trail segment to Dickey Mountain is easier.

We arrived at the trailhead at 9:00 a.m. on a Saturday. At that hour, there were still some parking spaces near the trail. A crew was working to expand the parking area (now in place), the need for which became apparent when we returned at 12:30 and found cars parked well down the road. However, despite the number of cars, we did not encounter many people on the trail and it never seemed crowded.

We chose to start on the right-hand branch of the Welch-Dickey Loop Trail which headed up to Welch Mountain. This route requires traversing a couple of steep slabs, and we felt it would be easier going up those areas than coming down them. The trail immediately crosses a brook which it then parallels for the first half-mile. Hardwoods dominate the forest in this area, and the hiking was comfortable with morning temperatures in the 60's. As the trail climbed out of the hardwood forest, pines and open ledges took over, and blueberries were plentiful between the slabs. The trail was steeper as we approached the summit, and the open peak provided a welcome breeze as the late morning temperatures rose into the mid-70's.

We were traveling with our Labrador Retriever, and he was able to handle the trail well except for one place where he was unable to jump/scramble up a slab, so we gave him a boost. At two points, we had to remove his pack so that he could fit through some narrow spaces between granite slabs.

Views from the ledges and summit were great, looking south and east over Waterville Valley and north to Dickey Mountain. After a snack on Welch's summit and exchanging stories with other hikers, we headed north to Dickey Mountain.

The half-mile to the Dickey Mountain summit involves a winding trail off Welch, then an easy trail through some pines and onto the open granite of Dickey. Dickey Mountain is the higher of the two peaks, and the view down onto the Welch summit enabled us to see the trail we had taken across.

The descent from Dickey Mountain was easy. The trail crosses open granite between groves of pines and more blueberry bushes. This trail, being easier, gets more traffic, and the berry supply was noticeably smaller. About one third of the way down, the trail follows a large exposed ledge that was visible during the hike up to Welch. The trail then returns to the hardwoods at the lower elevations and follows a ridge all the way down, so there is no stream or water. Before we knew it, we heard the sounds of civilization and were once again at the parking lot.

NH - Central East

  Driving Directions   

The Welch-Dickey Trailhead is located in Thornton, New Hampshire, about 10 minutes east of I-93.

From I-93:
  • Take exit 28 off I-93, and head east toward Waterville Valley on Rt. 49.
  • Turn left onto Mad River Road (at the traffic signal) and bear right when Mad River Road goes that way.
  • Then turn right onto Upper Mad River Road, which is both paved and dirt.
  • Turn left onto Orris Road (there is a hiker sign at this intersection).
  • Follow Orris Road for 0.6 mile and then take a short fork to the right to reach a large parking area.
  • The Welch-Dickey Loop trail starts from the upper end of this parking area and quickly forks with the left branch leading most directly to Dickey Mountain and the right leg first encountering Welch Mountain.

Other Notes   

WMNF Recreational Pass

A parking permit is required to park at White Mountain National Forest trailheads and parking areas. You can purchase a WMNF permit from the forest service and other vendors and can also pay-by-the-day using self-service kiosks located in many parking areas.

For more information on parking passes please refer to the White Mountain National Forest website.

  • $5 per day
  • $30 for a year-long pass
  • $40 for a year for a household

More Welch-Dickey Trail Reports   


Website by LeapfrogProgramming.com Logo LeapfrogProgramming.com

© 1998-2024
Page copy-protected against website content infringement by Copyscape
The information on this site may freely be used for personal purposes but may not be replicated on other websites or publications. If you want to reference some content on this site, please link to us.