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Backpacker Magazine – August 1998

New Hampshire's Baldface Range

Baldface Range's icy swimming holes and heights will get any hiker worked up.

by: Diane Bair and Pamela Wright

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QUICK TAKE: Baldface Circle Trail, NH

WHERE: Baldface Circle Trail is located in northeast New Hampshire (straddling the Maine state border), about 150 miles (3 hours) north of Boston.

THE WAY: From Boston, take I-95 north to NH 16 north. At Conway, follow US 302 east to NH 113 north, just over the Maine line. The trailhead leaves NH 113 about 0.2 miles north of the AMC Cold River Camp driveway.

TRAILS: Seven trails connect to form the 20.2-mile loop, which is a great backwoods weekend trip. Baldface Circle Trail includes more than 4 miles of open ledge with unobstructed views.

ELEVATION: The trailhead lies at about 500 feet. Steep ledges ascend to the 3,591-foot summit of North Baldface. If you continue on to Carter Dome you'll top out at 4,832 feet.

CROWD CONTROL: Visitation peaks in July and August, and again during fall foliage in late September. Weekends are busiest. Dayhikers and nearby residents crowd the first mile of the Baldface Circle Trail on hot summer days, seeking the cool, crystal-clear waters of Emerald Pool.

PIT STOP: If you don't mind crowds, head to North Conway. Elvio's on Main Street has the best pizza in the world, according to patrons. Eastern Mountain Sports is also here, if you're looking for outdoor gear.

WALK SOFTLY: Stay on trails in alpine and subalpine areas to avoid damaging sensitive plants.

MAPS AND GUIDES: All the details you need are on the Appalachian Mountain Club's Carter-Mahoosuc Map, #7 ($2.95 paper, $5.95 Tyvek, 800-262-4455). Another good resource is DeLorme's Trail Map to the White Mountain National Forest ($4.95, 800-452-5931).

MORE INFORMATION: White Mountain National Forest, Saco Ranger Station, 33 Kancamagus Hwy., Conway, NH 03818; (603) 447-5448. Also, Appalachian Mountain Club, P.O. Box 298, Gorham, NH 03581; (603) 466-2721.

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