Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Baldfaces

On Sunday we hiked the Baldfaces: Baldface Knob, South Baldface, and North Baldface. The colors were glorious, the trails not too crowded, and the air was warm, actually a little too warm. We were parched by the end of our 10.5 mile hike, drinking nearly every drop of water that we carried.

We ascended via the Slippery Brook Trail, which branches off from the Baldface Circle Trail about one mile from the parking area in North Chatham. Slippery Brook is a longer and gentler climb than the more popular Baldface Circle Trail. We opted for the gentle, quiet route.

Along the upper part of the Slippery Brook Trail, 
lined with colorful hardwoods and hobblebush

For the first 4 miles we had the trails to ourselves. From Baldface Knob to North Baldface we encountered only a handful of people. A bit surprising since the views and colors were at their peak.

From Baldface Knob looking south to Eastman Mountain

Atop Baldface Knob, looking southwest to Sable Mountain

From Baldface Knob looking up at 3,570' South Baldface

The Baldfaces are all less than 4,000 feet, so not part of the White Mountain 48 4,000-footers. Yet they offer, in our opinion, some of the best hiking in the Whites, because they are bald, exposed, and wide open.

On the way to South Baldface

The views from the ridge between South and North Baldface are just stunning, especially looking northwest into the vast Wild River Wilderness to the Carter-Moriah Range and Mt. Washington beyond. The air was a little hazy (temperatures in the mid-80s), but not enough to mar the awe-inspiring views.

On the Baldface Circle Trail between South and North Baldface,
looking northwest all the way to Mt. Washington

A view east from the Baldface Circle Trail

The view from our lunch spot atop North Baldface

Trail junction: Baldface Circle Trail and Bicknell Ridge Trail

We hiked down via the Bicknell Ridge Trail, a long, hot, dry, but beautiful descent. When we finally reached a stream with running water, Kodi flopped down in a pool to cool his hot, black belly, then rested his head in the stream.

A large crowd of high school or college students were hanging around Emerald Pool, a popular swimming destination less than a mile from the parking lot. Otherwise, we encountered only a dozen people on the full hike, a pleasant surprise for one of the best fall weekends in New England.


  1. Simply and truly wonderful, Ellen! As your terrific photos clearly demonstrate, you hit the Autumn foliage at its peak on a magnificent 'blue bird' day! I'm so envious! :-)

    Thanks for sharing this adventure with your readers.


  2. I am so jealous right now... I won't be in the White Mountains much this month, so I'm kind of sad I'm missing the foliage. It looks just amazing!

  3. Your welcome and thanks for the note John. It was one of those days when you have the place mostly to yourself, looking out over the vast wilderness, and at that moment you realize how lucky you are compared to most people on the planet. We lingered a bit.

    Looks like you've been on some good hikes too!

    Regards, Ellen

  4. Hi Ryan,

    We certainly enjoyed it for you :-) We were surprised, a bit, at the brilliance of the colors as southern NH is much more muted.

    Regards, Ellen