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Backpacker Magazine – January 2014

The Pemi Loop: New Hampshire

Pass from deep hardwood forests to above-treeline mountaintops again and again.

by: Casey Lyons

Do it 44.064153, -71.588030; 68 miles north of Concord off NH 112
Gear up International Mountain Equipment, 2733 White Mountain Hwy., North Conway; (603) 356-6316;
Season August is busiest; foliage peaks in early October; beware high winds and whiteouts fall through spring.
Permits White Mountain parking pass ($5/week; get at Lincoln Woods visitor center); shelters are $8/person/night, May to November;
Contact (603) 630-5190; Website
Northeasterners have heard it all before: Those aren’t real mountains. Lindsey Hansen, originally from Oregon, believed the hype—until this three-day, 31.5-mile journey changed her mind. The first 4.7 miles, beginning from the Lincoln Woods visitor center (1), trace the rushing and rock-studded East Branch Pemigewasset River. At the turnoff to the Bondcliff Trail (2), the path climbs along Black Brook, getting steeper for 4.4 miles until the ascent culminates in a 12-foot, class 4 section to reach the flattop, rocky ridge of 4,265-foot Bondcliff (3).
Summit 4,698-foot Mt. Bond
(4) along its open ridgeline, and take the .5-mile sidetrail for a sunset view from 4,540-foot West Bond (5) before crashing at Guyot Shelter (6) and campsites near mile 10. Next day, join the Appalachian/Twinway Trail (7) near the tundra-topped summit of 4,560-foot Mt. Guyot. After 4,902-foot South Twin (8), the AT falls 1,100 feet in .8 mile to the AMC’s Galehead Hut. Ask the hut’s caretakers for a current weather report: If the forecast is for high winds and storms, stay at the Garfield Ridge campsite. If weather is stable, continue on the Appalachian/Garfield Ridge Trail, cresting 4,500-foot Mt. Garfield—Hansen’s favorite view in the Pemi: “Here you can view the entire bowl of wilderness with the rounded Owl’s Head Mountain rising out of the center.” Continue to the treeless summit of Mt. Lafayette (9), and post up at Liberty Springs Tentsite (10).
Get out early to see the sun peek over the eastern ridges on the way up 4,459-foot Mt. Liberty. Join the Osseo Trail
(11) after Mt. Flume (4,328 feet), rejoining the Lincoln Woods Trail for the last 1.4 miles to the trailhead (12). “That afternoon as we hiked back to the Lincoln Woods Trail, I realized that this was the real Northeast,” Hansen says. “Tough hiking and endless rewards.”

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Lindsey Hansen Lapointe
Jul 02, 2014

Yay! It's so great to see my contributing article on the website. For more hiking adventurers in the White Mountain (and beyond), go to my blog - The Freelance Adventurer -at Or check it out on facebook at

Happy Trails!


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