Traversing over 2 miles of open ridgeline, the stunning Welch-Dickey Loop Trail in the White Mountains earns its spot as one of the best and most popular hikes in the White Mountains. This family-friendly, moderate hike passes over the summit of two relatively small mountains in New Hampshire. The highlight of this hike is how much time is spent walking on slabs without trees giving you breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. As frequent hikers in the White Mountains, this is one of our favorite hikes in New Hampshire.
Check out: The 11 Best Hikes in the White Mountains
Quick Overview of the Welch-Dickey Loop Trail
Distance: 4.4 Miles (about 3 hours) Elevation Gain: 1800 ft Difficulty: Moderate to challenging (relatively short and steep)
You can do this loop trail in either direction. We did the trail in a counterclockwise direction and recommend this route.
The Welch-Dickey Loop Trail starts in the forest and gradually ascends, getting steeper as it goes, up to the summit of Welch Mountain with several places to look out for views to the east, south, and west. From the summit of Welch, you can see Dickey and after a short descent, you ascend with a little bit of scrambling to the summit of Dickey.
One of the best parts of the hike is starting the descent from Dickey with some great views before you descend back into the forest and head back to the parking lot.
Parking at the Welch-Dickey Loop Trail Parking Lot
The parking lot for the Welch-Dickey Trail is a short distance off Route 93 and close to Waterville Valley Resort. From 93, take Route 49 East for 5.5 miles and turn left onto Upper Mad River Rd. In 0.7 miles turn right onto Orris rd and follow for just over 0.5 miles. The parking lot is on your right.
This is a popular hiking trail and the parking lot can easily fill up. Try to arrive early to get a spot. In the parking lot, you will find some bathrooms, a map and general information, and a spot to pay for parking. Parking is $5 and can be paid in cash in the envelopes in the parking lot.
The trail starts right behind the signs at the far end of the parking lot.
Map of the Welch-Dickey Trail
Things to Know about Hiking the Welch and Dickey Ridge Loop
When is the Best Time of Year to Hike the Welch-Dickey Trail?
The Welch-Dickey Trail can be hiked all year long although you should plan on hiking in the winter with a good pair of microspikes as there is often ice on some of the rocks. The best time of year to hike the Welch-Dickey Loop Trail and many of the other best hikes in the White Mountains in late spring (May) through October. In May you can expect spring bugs, and the summer can be hot although if there is a breeze, this is a great hike since you are out of the trees for much of the hike. My favorite time of year to hike the Welch-Dickey Trail is in September and October (visit late Sept and early Oct to see the changing leaves).
Can you bring your dog on the Welch-Dickey Loop?
Dogs are allowed on the Welch-Dickey Loop Trail. Make sure your dog is leashed and take extra caution near some of the dropoffs.
Is the Welch-Dickey trail good for kids?
The Welch-Dickey Trail is a family-friendly hike even though it’s considered difficult. The hike is relatively short and fun for kids as long as everyone is comfortable with the elevation gain. There are a few areas that are exposed with drop-offs, so make sure to keep an eye on kids when hiking. We hiked with trail most recently with our 13-year-old twins and 10-year-old, but we saw families with kids as young as 1-year-old.
Hiking the Welch and Dickey Loop Trail
From the parking lot, you have two options for hiking the Welch-Dickey Loop Trail. You can do the loop in a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction. Both directions are good, although there are more rock slabs on the way up that are easier to hike if you go counter-clockwise. This is the direction we hiked, so I will describe the hike as if you are going counterclockwise.
Take the trail on your right and ascend gently following a stream with 2 stream crossings. The trail slowly becomes steeper and begins to cross over sections of rock slabs. The trail follows yellow arrows, trail marks, and several rock cairns. In general, we found the trail easy to follow, but you will need to use care when crossing the rock slabs, especially in the winter, to stay on the trail.
About 1/2 mile from the top of Welch, you will find a fabulous overlook with plenty of space to sit and enjoy a snack. The views from here are excellent. Continue to the left up more rock slabs, some of them quite large to the summit. The summit of Welch has many areas for relaxing and taking in the views in most directions (the only obstructed view from here is from Dickey Mountain to the north.
From the summit of Welch, the Welch-Dickey Loop Trail descends a short distance before climbing quickly back up to the higher summit of Dickey. There are a few tricky spots on this part of the route, so pay attention to arrows, and plan on a bit of rock scrambling. From the top of Dickey, enjoy 360-degree views. *Note that there is no way to bypass the summit of Dickey – we found a few people trying to do this when we hiked the trail.
The descent from Dickey was my favorite part of the hike. The trail follows the ridgeline across granite slabs with a view back towards the Welch summit. Eventually, the trail descends back into the woods continuing steeply down for the last 1.1 miles and eventually leveling off slightly towards the bottom of the trail and ending quickly at the parking lot. The whole hike took us about 3 hours including time to each lunch and snap some photos.
Since the trail is quite exposed, make sure to pack enough layers even during the warm season. You can find what we bring for day hikes in this post: Complete Packing List for Day Hikes.
The Welch-Dickey Loop Trail is truly a wonderful trail in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and is listed as one of New Hampshire’s 52 with a View.
As always, make sure you practice Leave No Trace during your hike and you can see the most recent comment on All Trails for trail conditions.