White Mountains / Pemi / Prez Range
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Kyle Barber
(kbarbs4421) - F
White Mountains / Pemi / Prez Range on 09/07/2007 17:25:48 MDT Print View

I stumbled upon this website while researching the Pemi Wilderness Area, specifically the Presidential Range.

I am head out to Northern NH for a 4 or 5 night backpacking trip during the first week of October. We're hoping to catch the fall foliage plus Ive never done the Whites.

Basically, I am looking for suggestions on a good trail, connecting trails, etc that would include the good foliage peeping but avoid the crowds.

Is the Prez Traverse even worth it considering the weather could be atrocious?

Kyle Barber
(kbarbs4421) - F
add-on on 09/07/2007 17:28:27 MDT Print View

I forgot to mention that I am not sold on the Presidentials. I am open to other suggestions anywhere in the White Mountains area. Basically, what is your favorite multi-night stretch that tends to be less crowded than most.

Brett Tucker
(blister-free) - F

Locale: Puertecito ruins
White Mountains / Pemi / Prez Range on 09/07/2007 18:15:38 MDT Print View

Kyle, you might try the Coos Trail, either within the Whites or in its more remote northern reaches.

See: http://www.cohostrail.org/

Kyle Barber
(kbarbs4421) - F
colors on 09/07/2007 21:14:25 MDT Print View

Thanks Brett,

I was actually considering the Kilkenny Loop. Is the CT mostly boreal/coniferous? My girlfriend is really into seeing the autumn foliage (as am i, just not as dead set on it).

Brett Tucker
(blister-free) - F

Locale: Puertecito ruins
Re: colors on 09/08/2007 11:59:35 MDT Print View

The CT is not overwhelmingly boreal. When I hiked it in '04 the trail followed skid paths / snowmobile corridors for a fair percentage of miles, typically in deciduous woods. The ridgelines are more frequently boreal. In general, if you want peak fall color in October, stay low.

Kilkenny Loop should be favorable, solitude-wise.

jim bailey
(florigen) - F - M

Locale: South East
Foliage hike in the Whites on 09/09/2007 18:46:22 MDT Print View

Concern would be for foliage if that is what you want to enjoy, generally leaves start to change mid to late Sept. past peak in Oct. still color just not as bright. Might suggest southern Whites Sandwich Range with Mt Passconaway, White face and Chocura as possible destinations. lots of possibilities for loop treks without the all the foot traffic of the more popular routes in the notches.
Good Luck

Brett Tucker
(blister-free) - F

Locale: Puertecito ruins
Re: Foliage hike in the Whites on 09/10/2007 11:21:51 MDT Print View

Kyle mentions having never hiked in the Whites. While the Sandwich Range is nice - the Kilkenny too - I now think a better introduction might be to head for the Pemigewassett Wilderness. Specifically, hike Bondcliff from Wilderness parking on the Kanc, the AT over to Zealand Falls, then back down the rivers, maybe with a side hike to Mt Carrigain. This strikes me as a good balance between foliage, solitude, and peak experiences in the Whites. Avoid the first half of this loop on weekends. Or reverse it if the forecast calls for improving weather later in the itinerary.

Edited by blister-free on 09/10/2007 11:28:02 MDT.

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
White Mountains - Leaf Peeping on 09/10/2007 13:44:43 MDT Print View


I agree with Jim and Brett, in October I would focus on the southern Whites as they mentioned and favor the lower elevations.

The Presidentials don't come to mind first for leaf peeping. The elevation is so high that the majority is above the treeline and most of the trees on the way up are conifers with deciduous trees only at the lower elevations. Great for summer hikes above the treeline but not for your purpose.

Its been a very dry August so this year's color may not be the best but for me the Whites are a great place to be anytime.

Kyle Barber
(kbarbs4421) - F
leaves change when? on 09/13/2007 20:26:44 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the input. I really appreciate it. Im a little confused though. one of you said that the leaves are "past peak in october." does this mean theyre done by the end of September usually or by mid-october? Im going to be out there oct 3-10th give or take a day or two.

Thanks again!

john flanagan
(jackfl) - F

Locale: New England
Re: leaf change on 09/14/2007 08:42:36 MDT Print View

Peak varies with elevation, rainfall during the summer and fall weather conditions. It can range by a couple of weeks from year to year. The higher elevations are (1) predominately coniferous and so less colorful (no less beautiful - ground vegetation colors in golds and magenta)(2)have leaf fall relatively early (late Sept).

Mid-October is often past peak in the Whites. The first week of October should be great - maybe a little past peak but still lovely. Check here to get a sense of timing:


Others have given good advice on where to go and I third or forth the observation that staying low will maximize the color.

The Pemi is a great option that allows loops, alpine travel under the right conditions, lots of hardwoods, a real mix of easy and strenuous hiking - options galore.

The Kilkenny really isn't large enough to take 4 nights in unless you REALLY like to dawdle. If that is the case, you could stay in the Cabot cabin one night, Unknown Pond, and Rogers Ledge... that's a 2 or 3 mile day... and then out.

It's also possible to link the pemi and the sandwich range - but it requires some road walking.

Other options:
The carter mariah range taking advantage of the shuttle service that the AMC provides from Pinkham Notch

Lovely and not crowded - loops are possible across the wild river basin and along the royce > baldface ridge

Great overview map of the entire area:

this is heavier than the AMC alternatives but covers ALL of your options for planning purposes and provides PLENTY of detail for hiking

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: Re: leaf change on 09/14/2007 14:57:51 MDT Print View

I agree on the MapAdventures map. It's a great planning tool because it covers almost all the White Mountains trails, shows parking areas, is water-proof Tyvek. It's always the map I start with to plan my hikes. Even though it's "bombproof" tyvek, I use mine so much I still wear it out.

A one-stop-shop for all recreational planning in the Whites is Steve Smith's bookstore in Lincoln, N.H. Steve is editor of AMC's White Mountain Guide.

There are a myriad of trails branching out from Wonalancet located centrally east-west on the south edge of the White Mtn Nat Forest. You could probably come up with over 100 different loops from that point in some very beautiful terrain for fall foliage.

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: leaves change when? on 09/14/2007 16:01:49 MDT Print View

Kyle wrote, "Im going to be out there oct 3-10th.."


One word of WARNING: The "dreaded" Fryeburg Fair happens during your trip!

That's Fryeburg, Maine located just over the state line from Conway, N.H. in the eastern White Mountains. Don't get caught in the traffic coming up highway 16 from Boston and crossing over on highway 302 or else your 4 days will be spent in your car, stuck in traffic!


BTW, my avatar was taken last year, 1st week of October in the Whites. I also have pictures of the previous October with everything covered with snow in the Whites.

Edited by mad777 on 09/14/2007 16:05:14 MDT.

Kyle Barber
(kbarbs4421) - F
thank you all on 09/28/2007 18:20:57 MDT Print View

Thanks again to everyone for your thoughts and suggestions. I am 96% set on my itinerary now. I plan on heading up the bonds via the lincoln woods and wilderness trails and then kicking over to the zealand falls hut and down via either the shoal pond trail or the thoreau falls trail. for those who have hiked these, do you recommend one over the other?

Also, I am use to backpacking in the west, where there arent really any campgrounds in the backcountry. whats the rule of thumb in the Pemi on campsites. Should I stick to the "formal" camp spots or is OK to camp anywhere as long as its the specified distance from the trail/water and LNT is practiced?

Finally, any last tips? Cool restaurants? Good side trips off of my route? Etc?

Thanks again.