Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Loop Hike Over the Baldfaces

A beautiful Fall day was forecast and I decided to hike South Baldface (3,570') and North Baldface (3,610') Mountains. My hiking route would take me up the Baldface Circle Trail and down the Bicknell Trail to complete the loop. I'll save Eagle Crag and Mount Meader for another day.

The hike starts and ends here at the trailhead

Circle Junction

Unusual bubbles in a small brook

I had a couple of concerns. The first one was the gate on Route 113 in Evans Notch. There's been no accumulative snow yet this Fall so I was quite sure it would still be open but there's never a firm date as to when it will be closing. The other concern was the ledges I would be climbing up to South Baldface. There was significant rainfall yesterday and then sub-freezing temps last night. I was hoping there had been enough drying time to minimize the ice on those ledges.

Starting the climb on icy ledges

Frozen ledge

More frozen ledge

Looking back from where I came from

Looking up

More ledge

Getting higher

It was a dark start on my drive to the trailhead.  By the time I got to Route 113 the sky was beginning to brighten with the rising sun. As I made my way down Evans Notch I held my breath as I rounded the curve in the road where the gate is was open and I continued on through the notch. When I arrived at the trailhead parking lot there was one other car ahead of me and one hiker heading for the trail.

Looking up at the ledge ahead

More ledge scrambling

Final push to the summit of South Baldface Mountain

On the summit of South Baldface

A short walk down the road and I was on the Baldface Circle Trail. It was a cool start but no wind and the temperature was perfect for hiking. I was in my hiking groove by the time I got to Circle Junction and veered to the left toward South Baldface Mountain. I must have been deep in thought or still half asleep because the next thing I noticed there was no trail. I had taken too much of a left turn and was wandering around in the middle of the woods. So it was back to the trail junction and I got myself back on course again.

View to the east

View to the north

Zooming in on North Baldface Mountain

Mount Washington in the distance

Enjoying the view


Summit marker

Zooming in on Tuckerman Ravine

It was a gradual 2.5 mile climb to the Baldface shelter where I took a quick break. The trail continued around the shelter. Just beyond here is where the hike started to get real interesting. There was a gradual sloping smooth section of granite with some areas of ice that was easy to get around. This brought me to some ledges that were completely covered in ice. Adding to the slickness was water running beneath and over the ice. The microspikes went on but it was still very precarious because there were no handholds or anything else to grab onto. 

On my way to the next summit of the day

The ledges on South Baldface

Looking back at South Baldface

Mount Washington

As I climbed onto one ledge on hands and knees my thermos popped out of my pack and went cling clanging down over the ledges. Back down I went to retrieve it. I now got to start over again. I found it necessary to go slightly off trail in order to get around most of the ice but still had to rely on my microspikes to get over one patch. This would prove to be the most challenging part of the hike today. I took off my microspikes after this ice and did not need them again on this hike.

Final push to the summit of North Baldface

On the summit of North Baldface Mountain

Zooming in on South Baldface

It was a steady climb up over the ledges. The views were amazing up here and they just kept getting better. At 3.7 miles I reached the summit of South Baldface Mountain. There was spectacular 360° views and I got plenty of photos and my customary panoramic summit video. There was a thin cloud cover with the sun trying to shine through it but no wind and the temperature very tolerable. I didn't stay long and was soon on my way over to my next summit of the day.

Mount Washington from North Baldface

Zooming in on the summit of Mount Washington

The views just kept coming on my trip along the trail to North Baldface. The trail dipped down from South Baldface and then climbed up to North Baldface. As I got to my second summit of the day I was once again treated to another round of 360° views. I stayed long enough to get my video and pics then started my descent. It was almost one mile to the junction of the Bicknell Trail with scenic views along the way.

Looking back up at North Baldface

I continued my descent on the Bicknell Trail and the views kept coming as the trail skirts along ledges and cliffs. I especially enjoyed the views back up to South and North Baldfaces. At the end of the trail I had my first significant water crossing. The water was slightly up from the previous day's rain but I had no trouble crossing. On the other side I was back on the Baldface Circle Trail. Just before the Circle Junction there was one last water crossing. Any more rain and these water crossings would have been a problem.

Enjoying the sun

View of the ledges on South Baldface from the Bicknell Trail

 Crossing the Charles Brook

The last 0.7 mile was a good way to end this hike, flat and smooth. This was definitely a solo hike today as not only was I alone but I saw no other hikers all day. There was definitely hikers out there because there were several vehicles in the parking lot, we just happened to not cross paths. I actually thought there would be more people on this trail today and was surprised to have not seen anyone. 

 Final water crossing of the Charles Brook

This is a hike that I wanted to do before the snow falls and before the gates close in Evans Notch, it would have been a much longer drive for me. My other concern for the day regarding ice on the ledges proved to be challenging but I was able to work my way through it. This was an enjoyable hike with its ledge scrambles, spectacular views and a day of fantastic weather. I can now add these two mountains to my completed list of the New Hampshire 52 with a View summits.

Sun sinks behind Madison and Adams on the drive home

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!


  1. Enjoying your hiking adventure! Hopefully you don't have to blog about your rescue!! Seriously, it could be disastrous if your micro spikes didn't hold, but you know that... stay safe...maybe think of hiking a meadow in the winter time!

    1. I found a way around the worst of the ice. Meadows are boring!

  2. A very enjoyable journey through your pictures. The picture just above the text "I continued...." showing the Bicknell Ridge Trail sign on the left side is particularly appealing with its remote nature showcased by the trail, the plant life and the appearance of elevation and distant peaks making the setting appear as though it were in a more remote location.

    The text leads the reader on this hike with its easy going style that is filled with many points of interest. It clearly tells the story of a hiker comfortable and capable in this environment and with energy to spare to remember the high points and a desire to share. Thank you: it was a pleasure to reread and re/look at this presentation, slowly this time so to savor the moments and the images.

    This reader will be looking for more of your journeys' stories...and clear and welcome diversion from the daily scribbles on facebook. Thank you for taking the time to write....

    'Twas a pleasure to find this blog.


    1. I'm glad you enjoy the blog...Thanks for visiting!