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Thread: How crowded mid-week?

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    Senior Member hikerbrian's Avatar
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    How crowded mid-week?

    Inquiry for NH White Mountain locals. How crowded/bad is it up your way mid-week, at the popular trailheads and at the quieter spots? I've taken my boys (now ages 9 and 11) for at least one overnight backpack every year since they were very young, and these are powerful memories. I've stayed away from the Whites this summer for the obvious reasons and focused on other hobbies, but I'm feeling pretty sad to skip a year with the boys. Everything I read says Stay away, it's bad - the TP/human waste issue has been getting worse every year for the past decade, I can't imaging how bad it is this year. But what about the quieter trailheads? Dry River Wilderness up to southern Presi's? Kinsmans from the south or west? Daniel Webster/Howker? Appreciate any insight. I'm not willing to risk a large number of exposures, even outside, so the popular loops are absolutely off the table, and we'd be camping back country, not at established tentsites. Frankly, pulling way off the trail to let others pass, donning the mask each time - it all seems like more hassle than it's worth, except for the very quietest areas, which probably wouldn't appeal to kids who want adventure and an objective above treeline. So I'm thinking we'll skip this year, but I figured I'd throw the question out there.
    Sure. Why not.

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    We did the Red Rock Loop in the Maine section of the WMNF and saw nobody except a WMNF work crew on the access rd. We did the loop from Hut Rd in Stoneham. This was on a nice day, mid week in July. You could add Speckled for some above treeline but most of this loop only offers smaller looks at the views. There were some great spaces for bc camping, particularly in the cols between the peaks....just need water.

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    Junior Member Alex_NH's Avatar
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    i did a trek through dry river wilderness a couple weekends ago and while there were people, it wasn't crowded. Going midweek you would be fine so long as you keep of the high ridges. I'd also recommend Wild River Wilderness where, even on weekends I don't see too many people when out there. There are some river crossings to think about with your little ones, but they were at most knee deep for me last weekend (before the rain). May be a little higher today, but will go down again. Another option that I think is great for kids would be in the Hubbard Brook Forest area. The hiking there has a bit less elevation change and is pretty nice hiking with lots of flat topography for camping.
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    Senior Member John in NH's Avatar
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    Brian,

    I would summarize this year's general crowd level mid-week as fairly normal for summer, with a little less pure touristy types but more crowded than normal if the hike involves list based hiking objectives that have large facebook groups, most especially the 4ks (even more than before with its 28,000 member facebook group), but the 52 with a view peaks are way, way more crowded than normal thanks to the facebook group with 4,800 members. I make the facebook connection anecdotally. I have had at least 10 people blurt out something about "facebook 52 with a view on trail" and asking me to look at their phone and their all trails app and figure out something. Also these trailheads are way overflowing. Further, even the belknaps this spring have had 60 cars in areas that used have 3 or 4 cars on a weekend just a few years ago, and even the belknaps have a facebook group with about 3,000 people. It's a different scene than a decade or two ago for sure! More kids and dogs on trails than previous years too. The key to not finding crowds is to avoid the most obvious group think routes to these peaks.

    Yes, it would be a shame to let the season go by without sharing that experience with your kids. Its very easy to get sucked into the hysteria surrounding covid these days and have a limiting mindset take hold. Science seems to suggest that the risks outdoors with the wind dispersing viral load quickly would make the risk of transmission while hiking minimal, especially if you stick to lesser used trails and give it a minute after passing someone. I have been hiking with my kids.

    A few comments/suggestions:

    Kinsmans are very crowded from the west or east, and there have been two bear issues in that area this summer. A bear has been following hikers for miles at a time between Kinsman Pond and the Lonesome Lake trail in the col between cannonballs and cannon. There has also been some bear encounters at the Mt. Kinsman Trailhead on the west (momma and cubs).

    Presi's are crazy this summer. Encountered 700 single day traversers between Adams and Jefferson between 9am and 11am one day. Unbelievable.

    Anything north of the whites is faring much better crowd wise. Nash stream area was pretty quite. Percy Peak loop staying at Percy tentsite might be a good option. Even on a saturday only a few people were out there. (though it is on 52 with a view). If its been dry for a while, and you go counter clockwise on the loop its probably not too bad if your kids are experienced and comfortable on typical new england ledgy terrain. I saw a six year old on the north percy slabs. I would call it class 1 for adults, class 2 for kids. Cohos trail has no re-allowed use of their backcountry campsites now.

    Rogers Ledge might be good, either the established tentsite below or at the very top there are several nice tentsites but you would have to carry water up. Looping over to Unknown Pond could be good, though both mill brook trail and unknown pond trail are usually very brushed in. But Rogers Ledge just got added to 52 with a view a few months ago so I would expect more traffic than normal.

    Wild river and Speckled wilderness has been relatively quite too (other than the baldface loop). There are numerous sites on speckled, and a few nice ones a short distance down cold brook trail near the summit slightly off trail (though not sure the legality of the later sites).

    Hope you can get out there!
    www.jwelchphoto.com Photography/Hiking Blog

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    Senior Member B the Hiker's Avatar
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    Two weeks ago, starting on a Sunday afternoon, I did half the Grafton loop (the non-Spec side) and once beyond the Baldpates saw only two others the entire time!

    Brian

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    Senior Member Ann's Avatar
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    Stay away from anything “on a list” at times it’s been crazy to see Appalachia parking lot overflowing onto Rte 2 mid week. Hikes from Pinkham B (Randolph East Parking lot have been quiet).

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    Senior Member hikerbrian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John in NH View Post

    Presi's are crazy this summer. Encountered 700 single day traversers between Adams and Jefferson between 9am and 11am one day. Unbelievable.
    This is an estimate, right? Like one of those wildly exaggerated wind speed estimates? "I was just up there, it was blowing about 180-190" kind of thing? Please tell me it's an estimate. Because Holy. Crap.

    Thank you all so much for the info and suggestions. It sounds like there are possibilities as long as one stays well off the beaten path. I really appreciate it.
    Sure. Why not.

  8. #8
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    A general observation is head east of RT 16 and north of RT2 or stay away from the popular routes to the 4K and the AT. With the exception of Baldface Circle trail, the trails on the WMNF in Maine get far less use.

    BTW, When I did the Jefferson Notch road to Adams out and back, we definitely encountered in excess of 200 plus people and probably 50 at the Adams summit.

    My bet is Madison via Pine Link, Daniel Webster or Howker Ridge will be lot less busy. Generally Madison Gulf trail is pretty quiet and a nice place on hot day. Castle Ravine up Jefferson and Great Gully up Adams all are quiet until you get near the top.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 08-05-2020 at 03:45 PM.

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    I was pretty surprised with the Franconia Ridge last mid-week. Great weather (some brief showers) but very light traffic in my hours-long dawdle all along the entire ridge. Then I couldn't get across Lafayette without almost physical contact (and of course nobody was yielding). With the hut closed I have no idea where these people came from or where they were going. Then one person on Garfield, and he was leaving, had it to myself for quarter of an hour before heading on.

  10. #10
    Senior Member CaptCaper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hikerbrian View Post
    Inquiry for NH White Mountain locals. How crowded/bad is it up your way mid-week, at the popular trailheads and at the quieter spots? I've taken my boys (now ages 9 and 11) for at least one overnight backpack every year since they were very young, and these are powerful memories. I've stayed away from the Whites this summer for the obvious reasons and focused on other hobbies, but I'm feeling pretty sad to skip a year with the boys. Everything I read says Stay away, it's bad - the TP/human waste issue has been getting worse every year for the past decade, I can't imaging how bad it is this year. But what about the quieter trailheads? Dry River Wilderness up to southern Presi's? Kinsmans from the south or west? Daniel Webster/Howker? Appreciate any insight. I'm not willing to risk a large number of exposures, even outside, so the popular loops are absolutely off the table, and we'd be camping back country, not at established tentsites. Frankly, pulling way off the trail to let others pass, donning the mask each time - it all seems like more hassle than it's worth, except for the very quietest areas, which probably wouldn't appeal to kids who want adventure and an objective above treeline. So I'm thinking we'll skip this year, but I figured I'd throw the question out there.
    It's been much more crowded all summer then usual. Take the boys to places less crowded. Over on the Evans notch side is good. Some the 52 with a views are out of reach and laid back. Sugar loaf in Nash Stream or Percy Peaks. Or Rogers ledge. Still great hikes and camping without all the bull crap of popular trails. That's what we've been doing now for years.
    Grab a book of hikes and go for the one that you never heard of and do it it'll probably be a quiet trail.
    Last edited by CaptCaper; 08-05-2020 at 06:41 PM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Mohamed Ellozy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptCaper View Post
    ... Grab a book of hikes and go for the one that you never heard of and do it it'll probably be a quiet trail.
    Very well put!!

  12. #12
    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hikerbrian View Post
    Inquiry for NH White Mountain locals. How crowded/bad is it up your way mid-week, at the popular trailheads and at the quieter spots? I've taken my boys (now ages 9 and 11) for at least one overnight backpack every year since they were very young, and these are powerful memories. I've stayed away from the Whites this summer for the obvious reasons and focused on other hobbies, but I'm feeling pretty sad to skip a year with the boys. Everything I read says Stay away, it's bad - the TP/human waste issue has been getting worse every year for the past decade, I can't imaging how bad it is this year. But what about the quieter trailheads? Dry River Wilderness up to southern Presi's? Kinsmans from the south or west? Daniel Webster/Howker? Appreciate any insight. I'm not willing to risk a large number of exposures, even outside, so the popular loops are absolutely off the table, and we'd be camping back country, not at established tentsites. Frankly, pulling way off the trail to let others pass, donning the mask each time - it all seems like more hassle than it's worth, except for the very quietest areas, which probably wouldn't appeal to kids who want adventure and an objective above treeline. So I'm thinking we'll skip this year, but I figured I'd throw the question out there.
    How about an 11 mile Belknap Range traverse? (There’s even a patch available.). Camp at Round Pond.

    Aside from Mt Major, It has been a pretty quiet area every time I’ve been there this summer.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member jniehof's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisB View Post
    How about an 11 mile Belknap Range traverse? (There’s even a patch available.). Camp at Round Pond.
    There is no patch for the BRT (you don't go over all the list peaks) and there is no legal camping in the Belknaps outside of the frontcountry site at Gunstock.

  14. #14
    Senior Member John in NH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hikerbrian View Post
    This is an estimate, right? Like one of those wildly exaggerated wind speed estimates? "I was just up there, it was blowing about 180-190" kind of thing? Please tell me it's an estimate. Because Holy. Crap.

    Thank you all so much for the info and suggestions. It sounds like there are possibilities as long as one stays well off the beaten path. I really appreciate it.
    Ha ha, wind speeds! Yes, I usually divide online accounts of wind speeds by 2 to get the accurate reading. Before carrying an anemometer I was guilty of the same over estimates. When its blowing 30mph above treeline, it feels like 50 - 60mph, but isn't.

    But sadly, no, I don't think I am that off in my 700 estimate. That was a weekend though, and the first nice weekend out of the thunderstorm cycle in a while so many people who had presi traverse plans postponed earlier this season probably all finally went for it that day. Though that includes some backpackers and other hikers. Many large groups of 10 to 20 (yes....) It was definitely not less than 500 total, but really doubt it was that little.

    Yes, definitely no backpacking legal in the Belknaps. That site at round pond is owned by the boy scouts and is private land with no general public camping allowed.

    Good luck!
    www.jwelchphoto.com Photography/Hiking Blog

  15. #15
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    I remember encountering Puck on Lafayette back in 2014 or so and he had counted well north of 700 visitors by mid day.

    Tim
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