On this holiday long weekend I did not want to jostle for a parking space at the popular hiking spots in the White Mountains, so I decided to head south to Mount Kearsarge. It is also very popular – too popular, as its worn, eroded trails will attest – but at least its broad, open summit allows the crowds to spread out. I was last up there in November, with a bit of early snow and ice visible; on that day I had foolishly typed “Mount Kearsarge” into my nav system and ended up on the far (southern) side of the mountain, in Rollins State Park – where the road climbs far up the southern ridge to a parking lot less than a half mile from the summit. So this time I was more careful, parking in Kearsarge State Park on the northwest side – allowing a 1.1 mile climb of the rocky Winslow Trail and descent via the 1.8 mile Barlow Trail.
On Thursday morning I took a break from the post-election hubbub and drove down to the far side of Mount Kearsarge. I had only visited this popular peak once before, in November 2014, and recalled that it was a frosty and cloudy experience. Now, on an unseasonably warm sunny November morning, I decided to visit again. Somewhat accidentally (thanks Apple Maps!) I ended up on the far side of the mountain, where an auto-road allows one to park within a half-mile of the summit. I was the only car there, though I did pass a couple walking and an older man running the road.
There was a bit of haze, but otherwise impressive long-distance views to be had as I scrambled up the rocky Lincoln trail to the summit, then down the more gentle (but somewhat icy) Rollins trail back to the parking lot. Great views and I hiked barely more than one mile; it felt like cheating. I’ll have to come back someday and start from the base.