If you’ve browsed through the photos of the White Mountains, you’ve likely seen a photo taken from the top of Mt. Willard NH. This short, but iconic hike, ends along the top of a cliff looking south down a stunning valley in Crawford Notch State Park.
The Mount Willard Trail is just 3.2 miles with a gentle uphill grade and is considered a relatively easy trail for the White Mountains. The Mount Willard Hike is one of the best hikes in the White Mountains of New Hampshire to enjoy the gorgeous fall colors.
Below you will find a quick look at the Mount Willard Hike, details on parking, when is the best time of year to hike and more.
Quick Look at the Mount Willard NH Hike
Distance: 5.1 miles Elevation Gain: 900 feet Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
The Mount Willard hike starts at the Crawford Notch Depot. Cross the train tracks to the start of the hike. After just 0.1 miles, the Mount Willard Trail turns off to the left. The trail goes straight South from here for about 1.5 miles to reach the overlook. The trail is easy to follow and popular so you will likely see other hikers. We hiked this trail most recently in Sept of 2022, and on a Sat, the parking lot was mostly full and we saw about 30 other hikers on the trail. The hike up to the overlook to us exactly an hour.
Mount Willard NH is an out-and-back trail so once you’ve enjoyed the view, retrace your steps back down to the Crawford Notch Depot. The hike out took us about 40 minutes. You can see the complete details of our hikes below.
Mount Willard NH Trailhead Parking
Parking is available at the Crawford Notch Depot. This cute little train station has a small lot, bathrooms and some basic facilities. You can also find lots of parking along the road and in other nearby lots.
While there is a lot of parking, this is also a very popular hiking area with several other excellent hikes and the parking does fill up. If you can, try to arrive early in the morning or late in the day to get a spot.
Mount Willard Trail Map
The trail up Mt. Willard NH is well-marked and easy to follow. We did not have cell coverage during the hike so make sure you download a map and/or snap a photo of the map at the trailhead.
Complete Details of Hiking Mt Willard NH
The Mount Willard hike starts at the fun and photogenic Crawford Notch Depot and the pretty Saco Lake. We were able to find a parking spot on the road and even though the shop was closed, the restrooms were open. From the Crawford Notch Depot, cross the train tracks to find the start of the hiking trail. This is the start of many hiking trails.
After about 0.1 miles, the Mount Willard Trail turns to the left. From here it is a straight shot up to the overlook. The trail ascends at a steady grade and has two stream crossings near the start of the hike. Since we were hiking in Sept, the water level was low and it was easy to cross the stream on the rocks and a few logs, it’s worth reading the recent reviews in All Trails to see the most recent trail conditions if you are hiking after heavy rain or in the spring.
The trail is a typical NH hiking trail with rocks and roots, but is generally good walking. For the first section, you follow a small stream and there is a small waterfall with a pool named the Centennial Pool. From here the trail leaves the stream and ascends the north side of Mout Willard.
The final section of the trail levels off and you can see the opening at the end. When you reach the overlook the view down Crawford Notch to route 302 is directly in front. You can follow the clifftop to the right for additional places to sit.
Even though we shared the overlook with over 15 people, there is plenty of space at the top to spread out and enjoy a snack or picnic. Use caution as there is a steep drop-off below this viewpoint.
After enjoying the view, we turned around and made our way back down the Mount Willard hiking trail to the Crawford Notch Depot. There is no way to extend this hike from the top as it is an out and back, but if you are looking for a longer hike, you can also take the Avalon Trail that leads to Mount Tom, Field and Willey.
Things to Know About Hiking Mount Willard in the White Mountains of NH
When is the Best Time of Year to Hike Mt. Willard NH?
The absolute best time to hike Mount Willard in the White Mountains is during the fall when the leaves are changing colors. This is typically is late Sept and early Oct. Check out the fall foliage map of NH to get up-to-date conditions.
Mount Willard is also an excellent hike during the summer and fall months from late May-Oct. If you enjoy winter hiking, this is a great NH trail. A good pair of microspikes will help with the icy sections.
Are Dogs Allowed on the Mount Willard Trail?
Yes – dogs are along on the Mount Willard hike. Dogs must be leashed and you should clean up after your pets on the trail. We saw an adoreable 3 month old yellow lab on our hike who had no problem making it up this trail!
Is Mount Willard Good to Hike with Kids?
Mount Willard, NH is an excellent hike for kids. While the hike up doesn’t have many features (just the one small pool and waterfall) the trail is mostly easy and has an excellent view. Use caution with young kids at the top as the drop off is steep below the viewpoint.
If you are looking for other excellent hikes for kids, check out: