Another spectacular day in the White's! After spending the past couple weekends at Moose Mountains doing trail work and other stewarding duties we were ready to get back up North! We also wanted to pick one or two more 4000 Footers off of the list. It was tough deciding what to hike. The weather looked to be perfect and I wanted to pick something with plenty of views. I had a few hikes picked and figured we would sort through it in the morning.
Awake and ready nice and early we began the decision making. I had been wanting to do the Kinsmans for some time now via Mt. Kinsman trail as there was a nice view area (Bald Knob) halfway up the trail. So that is what we decided on. We made the long drive to the backside of the Kinsman range which actually went quicker than expected. We found the gated road flanked by granite posts and marked with a very small sign. We parked in one of the two pull off spots. As we got our packs on a farmer in the house across the street approached us with a paper cut-out. He explained to us that there was now a parking area and new trailhead a short distance down the road. We thanked him for the info. and threw our bags back in the truck.
A short drive back past the campground and we found the poorly marked driveway for the parking area. The small trail sign was facing across the road instead of down the road....hmmm, who's idea was that!? After parking along side several other vehicles we began the hike. The trail that the man described as newly cut was surprisingly worn down. It seemed like it had been in place for a couple years, perhaps it was some sort of camp trail that was improved, has just seen a lot of traffic, or really wasn't THAT new...not sure?
We began a pleasant walk through the woods soon turning into a loud crack in the silence from campground bells, shouting and then speakers blasting out "Do You Remember" with Jay Sean, Lil' John and Sean Paul shouting through the trees, LOL! It was rather humorous and was a great motivational tune for the start of a hike! After the hip-hop walk through the woods you join the original trail that follows a logging road passing an abandoned maple sugar shack.
The road passes plenty of wet sections and small streams and climbs moderately. I was rather shocked at how quickly and easily the Bald Knob spur trail was reached. A short distance down this trail we walked out onto an impressive granite knob area with nearly a 360 degree view! We took a snack break and snapped some pictures. The black fly's were bothersome in this area so we didn't stay long.
Back on the trail we continued the climb. We both rather enjoyed the trail. Plenty of mossy goodness and large rocks to look at along the way. There are plenty of moderate to steep pitches and occasional level sections to give you a nice break before the next steep climb. The final push to the ridgeline got steeper as you climb over granite and around some boulders. Upon reaching the Kinsman Ridge trail we were greeted with a spectacular view across to the Franconia Range!
The final half mile push to the summit of North Kinsman was tough. A steep climb made you work for every step to the summit! We made the top #31 for us and discussed if we wanted to make the additional mile hike to the South peak. I was feeling a bit week today having a tiny bit of a cold and we had enjoyed the hike and decided to just relax a bit. So we decided to hold off on South peak for another day on a different trail in.
We stepped down through a muddy section to the ledge that overlooks the Franconia Notch. It was still early and fairly quite as we shared the ledge with just a few other hikers. There were a few black fly's but they weren't all that bad. You could see so much from this spot. Cannon, Lafayette down to Flume, and bits and pieces of other far off ranges most noticeably being Carrigain, Chocorua and the Tripyramids. A glider kept making it's way across the peak and around the White's. It was neat to watch from this vantage point.
Once we had our fill we made the climb down. We passed many people making the final push to the summit, always happy to be the early birds and miss the crowds on some of these more popular hikes! It is still shocking to see some hikers climbing a 4K with nothing more than a bottle of water and a small fanny pack! Not too smart! The climb down was rather pleasant. The good footing and variable grades made for a comfortable hike down and we made it back to the parking area rather quickly.