Sunday, August 18, 2019

Summer 4000 footer - Mount Osceola via Trail on Tripoli Road

Back in May of 2015, I headed up to Tripoli Road to solo hike Mount Osceola.  Unfortunately, I discovered that in early May, the Tripoli Road is still "closed for winter" and I couldn't hike it.  I ended up taking the nearby multi-use Livermore Trail for a day hike and blogged about it.  It's now over four years later, but I decided to try again.  This time with my friend Kaley and her two dogs.

When looking for a hike to tackle today, I wanted something with a good view that wouldn't break us - neither had been doing strenuous hiking in the last couple months.  My choice was perfect! This moderate 4,315 footer is a steady out and back climb without any major slab or technical difficulty.  If you can just keep climbing up for 3.2 miles up and then back, you're in for the reward of spectacular views of the Sandwich Range.

View from Osceola summit.  Photo taken by my friend Kaley.

Here's how to recreate this adventure...

Adventure:  Mount Osceola via Mount Osceola Trail on Tripoli Road

Getting there:  We followed cell navigation to the trail head.  It took us a slightly different way than some websites but made good time and wasn't hard to find.  From I-93, take exit 28 for NH-49 toward NH 175/Campton/Waterville Valley.  Then turn right onto NH-49 E/State Hwy 49 E. In 10 miles, take a left onto Tripoli Rd.

Tripoli Road is only open in summer and is in moderately-poor condition for a paved road.  We dodged pot holes while slowly driving the couple miles to the Mount Osceola Trailhead.  There is a parking area but even by 9:00 am on a Sunday, it was full and we parked along the road with other vehicles.  There are outhouses at the trailhead as well as a parking fee (currently $5 a vehicle - bring exact change or check).
Roots and Birches

Trail: This is a moderate climb - especially for a White Mountain 4,000 footer.  The trail starts with a gradual climb and continues going up for the entire trek.  The ground cover changes back and forth from rocks to roots and packed dirt.  We were able to keep a steady pace without involving climbing or grabbing trees for support.  I really fell in love with the mossy rocks lining the trail in the hardwood forest.  As we gained elevation, we were able to see glimpses of the view through the evergreen branches.  The last mile of the trail was the most challenging - with slightly steeper grade and short slabby sections which were wet from the previous nights storm.  Still, nothing too intimidating.

Love these moss covered rocks
The view from the summit was beautiful!  The lookout is an open slap that gives you about a 180 degree view of the mountains south of the Kancamagus Highway called the Sandwich Range.  It was a moderately trafficked trail and there were probably 4-5 other groups up there enjoying the sunshine and view.  After a sun and snack break, we headed back down to the car the same way we had come up.  Some hikers decided to continue and bag "East Osceola" - another 4,000 nearby, but since it doesn't have a view, we weren't interested.

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 3.2 miles one way, 6.4 out and back


- This would be a great hike for someone wanting to try their first 4,000 footer.  Although it was a steady climb with rocky trail, there were no technical skills needed.

- Remember your $5 for parking envelope.

- Don't make my mistake and assume the Tripoli Road is open in May. Summer only!

- This was a moderately trafficked trail and very dog friendly.  About a forth of hikers had dogs off leash.  Few asked if we wanted them to leash them.

Although I actually summited this mountain back in my guiding days, I had never taken the approach from Tripoli Road.  As a mom of a one and three year old, I don't get the opportunity often to take a full day to drive to the White Mountains and do a day hike.  I have to choose carefully!  This was the perfect hike for a summer day.

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Steady uphill climb gave these rewards
Kaley's dogs - Dexter and Cooper

You might also enjoy the following:

- Mt Carrigain Loop - 4000 Footer and More

- Mount Pierce in Late Spring

- Advice For Hiking in the White Mountains