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10 Best White Mountain Fall Foliage Hikes in New Hampshire

Each fall, the White Mountains come alive with the vibrant colors of the fall leaves. Late September and early October is the perfect time to plan a hike in the White Mountains and these 9 hikes will get you out exploring gorgeous waterfalls and stunning cliff faces all backed with a display of amazing reds, oranges, and yellows. This list of 9 of the best White Mountain fall foliage hikes was compiled so that there is something for everyone.

As avid hikers who live in New Hampshire, we love to explore the White Mountains and have personally hiked all 9 of these hikes. You can all see our complete guide to exploring the White Mountains in the fall.

If you are looking for more hiking suggestions for the White Mountains of New Hampshire, check out:

Below are 9 amazing fall foliage hikes.

Fall White Mountain Guide

If you prefer to have a printable guide, get our complete guide to visiting the White Mountains in the fall including a weekend itinerary, the best hikes, where to stay and more.

You can purchase this Guide on Etsy.

Mount Willard

Distance: 3.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 600 feet
Difficult: Easy/Moderate
White Mountain Fall Foliage Hikes
White Mountain Fall Foliage Hikes: Mount Willard in Sept right before the leaves change

Mount Willard is a classic fall hike in New Hampshire. It is a relatively easy hike with a high reward and an easy-to-follow route The view from the top of Mount Willard looks south from Crawford Notch and the valley with Route 302 winding through it. This viewpoint has become an iconic spot to take a photo, especially in the fall.

The hike leaves from the Crawford Notch Depot. After 0.1 miles, turn left onto the trail to Mount Willard. The trail is straightforward from here and ascends a wide path with a steady elevation increase. After about 1.5 miles, the trail ends on top of a rocky cliff for views to the south.

Learn more about Hiking Mt. Willard NH for an Incredible and Iconic New Hampshire View

Artist Bluff

Distance: 1.5 mile loop trail
Difficulty: moderate
Elevation Gain: 500
White Mountain Fall Foliage Hikes
Best White Mountain Fall Foliage Hikes: Artist’s Bluff

The hike to Artist Bluff in New Hampshire is another classic fall hike. Over just a short distance, you ascend to a rocky outcropping. From here you have incredible views to the south overlooking the valley with Route 93 winding up between the steep rocky walls. On one side of the valley, Cannon Ski Mountain provides an interesting visual when the leaves change and Echo Lake at the base of the hike is beautiful from above.

The hike itself is short and steep with some rocky footing and does get crowded during the fall months. The last time we did the hike, we arrived just after sunrise and found the top full of people.

If you are visiting the White Mountains in the fall and will be on the western side of the mountain range, this hike is a must!

See more about hiking Artist Bluff and Bald Mountain.

Mount Kearsarge

Distance: 1 mile (Shorter option) with several longer options
Elevation Gain: 340 feet
Difficulty: Easy

* There are many ways to hike this trail from easy to hard.  The info above is for the easiest hike.

There are many ways to hike to Kearsarge, and they all offer excellent views, especially from the summit. Since it can be done in as little as 1 mile round trip, this is generally considered an easy hike but the trail does have rocks and roots along the way. There is a fee to visit ($4/adult and $2/youth) and a registration system for parking.

You can learn more by visiting Winslow State Park.

Hedgehog Mountain

Distance: 4.8 Miles
Elevation Gain: 1400 feet
Difficulty: Moderate

This is a moderate hike just off the Kancamagus Highway. The trail offers many ledges and rocky outcrops making it an interesting and beautiful hike, especially during the fall months. Get to the parking lot early and enjoy the views of Passaconaway as well as some of the bigger peaks (like Washington) in the distance.

See more about hiking Hedgehog Mountain.

A view from Hedgehog Mountain NH

Mount Tecumseh

Distance: 6 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,300 feet
Difficulty: Moderate +
White Mountain Fall Foliage Hikes
White Mountain Fall Foliage Hikes: The View on the Tecumseh Trail

Nestled in the heart of the White Mountains, with sweeping views of Waterville Valley, the hike to Mount Tecumseh makes the list of Best White Mountain Fall Foliage Hikes as the shortest 4,000-footer in New Hampshire.

There are 2 ways to hike to Mount Tecumseh: via the Tripoli Trail or the Tecumseh Trail from Waterville Valley. The trail from Waterville Valley is shorter and offers better views from several side trails out to one of the ski slopes. This trail is a relatively easy hike although does have a steady elevation gain up a series of stone steps. Well-maintained and straightforward, this is a great hike right when the White Mountains hit their peak.

Learn more about the 2 Best Ways to Hike Tecumseh Mountain in the White Mountains of NH

Mount Chocorua

Distance: 10 miles (7 hours)
Difficulty: challenging
Elevation Gain: 3,000 ft
White Mountain Fall Foliage Hikes
Best White Mountain Fall Foliage Hikes: Hiking Mount Chocorua

I recently heard that Mount Chocorua is one of the most photographed mountains in New England. I’m not sure if it’s true, but this is an incredibly beautiful mountain with a large treeless summit. This is a great fall hike in New Hampshire, especially since it’s in the Southern part of the White Mountains. This means it hits peak foliage just a bit later than the rest of the White Mountains, and it’s easy to get to from most places to the south.

There are several options for hiking Chocorua and all offer a great summit view. Our favorite route is to hike Mount Chocorua via the Loop Trail/Piper Trail. This is not an easy hike and takes about 7 hours (with time to enjoy the summit!)

Mount Flume and Liberty

Distance: 9.8 Miles
Elevation Gain: 4,100
Difficulty: Challenging

This is a wonderful New Hampshire hike that includes 2 mountain peaks. Flume and Liberty both offer excellent views from exposed peaks. Mount Liberty in particular has incredible 360 degree views. Some of the best views during the fall are out towards Cannon Cliff.

This is a challenging hike with some very steep sections. If you will be hiking this trail in the fall, you can expect very cold temperatures at the summit and often windy conditions. Make sure you dress appropriately! On this list of the best White Mountain Fall Foliage Hikes, this hike is the most challenging.

Boulder Loop Trail

Distance: 3 miles
Elevation Gain: 900 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Best White Mountain Fall Foliage Hikes: Boulder Loop Trail

This amazing hike is short and sweet and just off the Kancamagus Highway, making it a perfect stop along the scenic drive to stretch your legs. It is mostly an easy hike, but since it does gain almost 1,000 feet of elevation over 1.5 miles, it will definitely get your heart pumping. The trail is mostly easy walking but with rocks and roots.

Park at the lot for the Albany Covered Bridge and hike the loop in either direction. the best views are on the 0.2-mile spur trail at the top.

You can learn more about Hiking the Beautiful Boulder Loop Trail, NH.

Arethusa Falls

Distance: 2.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 800 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Finley Hiking Arethusa Falls

Arethusa Falls is one of my favorite hikes in New Hampshire. It is a great hike with kids and is just challenging enough with a high reward at the end. In addition to the gorgeous waterfall at the end, the hiking trail also runs along a beautiful stretch of river.

The trail is rocky with uneven footing and while it is never exceptionally steep, the trail has a steady incline. It is also possible to turn this into a longer hike that includes Ripley Falls. This is a much longer and more challenging hike.

See more about hiking Arethusa Falls.

Looking for a bunus hike? Check out Table Mountain in Bartlett, NH

Map of the 9 Best White Mountain Fall Foliage Hikes

Things to Know About Hiking in the White Mountains in the Fall

The fall is my favorite time of year to hike in the White Mountains. There are so many incredible spots to explore. Below are some important things to know about visiting the mountains of New Hampshire to see the fall foliage.

When is the best time to see fall foliage in New Hampshire?

Typically the fall foliage peaks in the White Mountains in New Hampshire in late Sept to mid-October. The exact time of peak varies slightly from year to year. You can use one of the fall foliage trackers to get a sense of what this year looks like. Since the White Mountains cover a large area, you can also adjust your plans based on where the peak is occurring. There is usually about a 1-week difference in the foliage peak from the northern White Mountains to the southern part of the White Mountains. Use the map above to choose the perfect hike to see the leaves.

How crowded are the White Mountains in the fall?

The weekends in the fall are typically very crowded in the White Mountains and since many places have a 3-day weekend for Columbus Day, this weekend is especially packed. Avoid the crowds by getting out early, hiking during the week, or finding less popular trails.

After visiting the White Mountains during Columbus Day of 2022, we found overcrowded parking lots and busy hiking trails.

What should I pack for hiking in NH in the Fall?

The White Mountains are known for wide fluctuations in weather, and it is incredibly important to be prepared even for day hikes. During the fall, it is common to have snow falling at the higher peaks in the White Mountains, and even at lower elevations, a cold wind can make it very chilly. Always wear layers, pack food and water, and bring along safety equipment even on short hikes.

See our complete packing list for day hikes and remember that days are getting shorter during this time of year. Keep an eye on the time and the amount of light to avoid hiking in the dark.

Is there a fee to the White Mountains in the Fall?

Many of the hikes in the White Mountains are within the National Forest, but there are also plenty of hikes in State Parks as well. Each of these different areas have different fee requirements, but most parking lots have a small fee of just $4-$5.

Please Leave no Trace

In recent years, the White Mountains are getting more and more crowded during the fall months.  This has led to crowded parking lots and a huge increase in trash.  Please remember to leave no trace when visiting the White Mountains.  This includes throwing apple cores, banana peels, and other food scraps.

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