A great foliage hike is a must for a true New Hampshire adventurer. It can be challenging to pick just the right one on just the right day because you want peak colors but with clear sky and no rain! This year the Welch- Dickey Loop Trail was just the trail to hike. It’s a very popular hike and considered a moderate hike. This is a good rating for this hike so long as it’s not wet. Welch-Dickey can be found off of 93 by taking the Campton/Waterville Valley exit, from the south it’s exit 28. At the end of the exit you’ll follow route 49 through Campton toward Waterville Valley. You’ll turn left onto Upper Mad River and then you’ll turn right onto Orris Road. The parking lot is on this road. The trail head is located in Thornton, which was named after Matthew Thornton, who was one of the members of the continental congress. He was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Remember when hiking to pack your hiking backpack appropriately. On top of any mountain the weather can suddenly get cold and/ or rainy so warm clothes and rain gear are always advisable. Hiking boots are strongly recommended because the rock can get slippery when wet. Trekking poles aren’t a bad idea either. Always remember safety first!
This is a great hike with the opportunity to hike two mountains, Welch first at 2605’ and Dickey second at 2734’. The first ledged clearing is only about 45 minutes to an hour in and offers a stunning view of Waterville Valley and some amazing foliage colors. You can also see the way up to the top of Welch Mountain from here and some of the rock face you’ll be traversing. Due to the open slabs, hiking up the steep rock face slopes when wet can be extremely slippery. So while in a dry cycle this hike can be pretty family friendly, even adults should take caution when wet. The loop is a fairly relaxing 4.5 miles with stunning views all the way up and down. The trail travels counter clockwise. It crosses a small brook that continues to run parallel with the trail for some time. After the first clearing the rare jack pine can be seen along the trail. These trees are only found in five locations in New Hampshire. After the clearing the steady climb up Welch really begins. It’s a steep hike with impressive panoramic views of New Hampshire. The top of Welch Mountain does not skimp on views either. The colorful foliage brightened up the slightly grayer day. Even the decent of Welch Mountain was lovely.
The second half of the trail was the trek up and down Dickey Mountain. The incline up Dickey is a little less steep then the climb up Welch. Dickey offers beautiful views at the top and nice place to sit and rest but for prime scenery the most amazing outlook is on the open face slab on the descent. The view here is amazing because you can see the two mountains you have hike over as well as a beautiful color filled valley below. The peaking foliage fills the valley with amazing coloring. It’s a slab rock clearing affording a 180 degree view. The descent after this is a pretty fairytalish hike through lovely trees, and bright yellow foliage. In the spring forest flowers dot the landscape. The trail down is like a romantic scene from a fantasy. It’s well groomed and easy to follow.
This is a beautiful hike so if you don’t mind a few extra people around it’s a wonderful way to enjoy a day! When the hike is finished there is a tavern on the way back to the highway called The Mad River Tavern. It offers warm tasty food after a long hike. I suggest the chili or the chowder after a cold fall hike.