Located right in Franconia Notch just off Route 93 in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, this 1.5 mile trail takes you to two incredible viewpoint up the Artist Bluff Trail and Bald Mountain NH. This is an incredibly popular fall hike in New Hampshire with views south from Franconia Notch with highway 93 winding through the valley and Echo Lake below. The hike starts right from the base on Canon Mountain, and the view includes the trees and ski slopes on the side of Canon.
Many people hike this as a short out and back hike just up to Artist Bluff. If you are short on time, Artist Bluff is just 0.5 miles and has wonderful views out to the south. If you are looking for a slightly longer hike, Bald Mountain is just a bit further and has a completely Bald top with 360 degree views – a rare find in NH with so little effort.
Quick Look at the Artist Bluff Trail and Bald Mountain
Distance: 1.5 miles Elevation Gain: 480 feet Difficulty: moderate
You can start this loop at one of two parking lots. Right off the highway turn west and you will see the first parking lot on your left. You can park here or continue a bit further to a parking lot on your right. The trail goes right along the road, so you can simply access the start right near the highway or in the parking lot on the right.
The Artist Bluff trail and Bald Mountain is generally hiked as a loop (although you can hike to Artist Bluff as an out and back). I prefer hiking this in a counterclockwise direction as this gets the steeper section out of the way on the way up. There are several places along the trail that involve some steep scrambling up some rocks, but at no point is this scrambling specifically hard.
Starting from the first parking lot, choose the trail up to the right and begin ascending towards Artist Bluff which looms up above you. You will climb steadily for a short distance and see the trail to Bald Mountain on your left. Continue straight to get to the incredible look out over Artist Bluff. It’s unlikely you will have the view to yourself – even at sunrise this is popular.
Continue on up to Bald Mountain. The final trail to Bald Mountain is a spur, so you will leave the loop trail and turn right. This is very short and worth it, but it is also the steepest part of the hike. The top of Bald Mountain is completely exposed. After leaving the summit of Bald Mountain, continue down the loop trail. This part of the trail is the easiest as it is wide and no as steep at the hike up to Artist Bluff.
Map of Artist Bluff and Bald Mountain Loop Trail
Below you can find a map of Artist Bluff and Bald Mountain. The All Trails map is also accurate for this hike and it’s always helpful to read the comments to hear the most recent trail conditions.
Things to Know about Hiking Artist Bluff and Bald Mountain in the White Mountains
Artist Bluff and Bald Mountain are an excellent easy hike in the New Hampshire. For moderate effort, you are rewarded with incredible views. This trail is popular all year long, but becomes crowded in the fall when the fall colors peak. Luckily, both Artist Bluff and Bald Mountain have a large area so even if there are a lot of people at the top of the viewpoints, there is enough place to spread out.
When is the Best Time of year to Hike to Artist Bluff?
You can hike to Artist Bluff any time of year, but note that in the winter there are a few steep sections that can be challenging in the snow and icy conditions. A good pair of microspikes or snowshoes are necessary during the winter months. The best time of year to hike the Artist Bluff Trail to Bald Mountain is May-October.
How do I get to the artist Bluff trail?
You can park at the base of Canon Mountain in the first parking lot you come to off Route 93. The easiest access to the trailhead is across the street from the Canon Mountain RV Park. Simple enter this into your map app. You can also park at the next parking lot on the right and access the trail directly from the parking lot.
Details of Hiking the Artist Bluff Trail and Bald
We’ve done this hike in almost every season on the year. While this hike is often listed as one of the best NH hikes in the fall, the open viewpoints from both Artist Bluff and Bald Mount are wonderful all year long. Since this is a nice short hike, you can do it on your way through Franconia Notch or combine it with a trip up the Canon Mountain Tram.
This is a good hike to do with kids and dogs although you should use caution at the viewpoints as there are steep dropoffs.
Hiking this trail in a counterclockwise direction means you go up the steep sections (although it isn’t too steep to hike down in the other direction). As this is a popular hike, it’s best to hike early in the day or late in the day, although we’ve also found the summit of Artist Bluff to be crowded even at sunrise.
Have you hiked to Artist Bluff? Leave a comment or question.