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:  Typical: 3:00  
Outing Duration:  Actual: 4:30   Typical: 5:00  
Season:  Spring
Hike Date:  05/30/2010 (Sunday)  
Last Updated:  11/11/2010  
Weather:  Sunny, hazy
Author:  Chris Gillespie

Trail to Welch Mountain – those dots on the ledges are hikers
(photo by Chris Gillespie)
Trail to Welch Mountain – those dots on the ledges are hikers (photo by Chris Gillespie)

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.)

The kids in between two boulders (photo by Chris Gillespie)
The kids in between two boulders (photo by Chris Gillespie)
  • 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   

Took the kids (ages 7 and 10) up to Welch and Dickey Mountains over Memorial Day weekend. This was a surprisingly fun and enjoyable hike, with elements that were unexpected and unique.

We arrived in the parking area at 10 a.m., and there were still a number of available spots. We hiked the loop counter-clockwise, and I think that is the best route to take. Some light scrambling in a number of
Hiking along a ledge
(photo by Chris Gillespie)
Hiking along a ledge (photo by Chris Gillespie)
areas that were a little intimidating for the little ones, but once they got their footing they really enjoyed themselves. The weather was excellent, only getting warm as we descended back into the cover of the forest on the way down.

On this weekend there was haze from wildfires in Quebec, which made the vistas somewhat surreal – in a good way. I would strongly advise against this hike in wet conditions, as the rock faces would be quite slippery and slightly dangerous. In dry conditions, however, the trail is very safe.

This is not your typical White Mountains hike where you are buried in the forests until you summit. There are a number of points on the trail where you have tremendous views, and it makes the hike quite enjoyable. This is an excellent day hike for children. We completed the loop in 4.5 hours, and were going much slower than most others.

Naturally, this was a busy weekend and there were many others on the trail, but it never seemed overly crowded. The kids are experienced hikers, but we took our time, stopping frequently for lunch, snacks, and overlooks. If we had left the kids home and put our minds to it, we could have completed the loop in just over 3 hours – but where's the fun in that?

The kids loved hiking on the rock faces, being able to see the peaks before we reached them, and the ability to look back at where we had been. This made the hike much more pleasurable as they could gauge our progress.

As always, I would recommend packing more water than you anticipate, and something to snack on will force you to pause to enjoy the views.

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.

Resting before reaching Welch Mountain (photo by Chris Gillespie)
Resting before reaching Welch Mountain (photo by Chris Gillespie)

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   

Slight footwear malfunction (photo by Chris Gillespie)
Slight footwear malfunction (photo by Chris Gillespie)

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