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Where Solitude Rules – Lonely Summits

You won't find bottlenecks on these untrammeled peaks.

Baldface-Royce Range, New Hampshire
Lose yourself in this steep and rocky micro-edition of the Presidential Range.
Sprawling along the Maine – New Hampshire border on the far east of the White Mountains, the Baldface-Royce Range rises to little more than half the height of the nearby Presidentials. So most hikers flock to the more famous peaks, leaving the lower range’s rugged topography and open ridges to those in the know. Do this multiday route in the north and you’ll be all alone among the untrammeled summits. Start at Basin Pond and hike north on the Royce Trail, along the Mad River, to East and West Royce Mountains, which barely top 3,000 feet but tower half a mile above the Cold River.

Admire panoramic views from East Royce’s open ledges, spanning Mt. Washington to Maine’s Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness, then head west (still on the Royce Trail) into New Hampshire. Double back along the Basin Rim Trail to reach West Royce, logging seven miles for the day (stay at Blue Brook Shelter or camp nearby). In the morning, continue across Mt. Meader to Eagle Crag and begin four miles of ledge-hopping across North and South Baldface, with views from the Carter Range and the Presidentials to the shining lakes of western Maine. Break up the knee-pounding, 3,000-foot descent with a night at Baldface Shelter. End the tour with a bracing swim in icy Emerald Pool, about a mile from the road.

Days 2-3
Maps USGS topos Wild River and Chatham
Permits National Forest Use Pass ($3/day, $5/week)
Info (603) 466-2713; fs.fed.us/r9/forests/white_mountain

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