I am often asked which peaks are the easiest by hikers looking to start New Hampshire 4000 Footer list. Today’s post is my recommendation for where to start! It is difficult, if not impossible to rank the NH4Ks. Why? There are many factors that affect the difficulty of a hike. This can include trail choice and weather as well as your own personal health. There are some days that my legs just don’t want to cooperate while other days I can breeze through difficult sections. You will also become stronger as you hike. Take a long period of time off? That will affect your future hikes as well.
This is, by no means, a complete list of possible first hikes, but it’s a list that I would recommend to a friend who is just starting out. While these are easier 4Ks, they are still pretty darn tough! Condition yourself on smaller peaks. After all, the best way to get in shape for hiking is to hike!
Looking to turn your friend/significant other/family member/pet into a peakbagger? These picks will not only ease them in, they have that “wow factor” to reel them in!
- Bugle Cliff is a great outlook as you look back at the Highland Center and see how far you’ve gone already. It’s a great motivator
- You get rewarded with gorgeous views of the Southern Presidentials including Mount Washington atop Jackson’s summit
- I’ve always seen grey jays atop Jackson
- There are a couple of steep rock slabs right before summiting that are doable, but might make some hikers nervous.
- The Crawford Path is the oldest, continuously maintained, hiking path in America
- Beautiful views of the Presidentials just before the summit
- Although much of the trail is below treeline, the final push to the summit can be dangerous in foul weather.
- The official summit veers to the right and is wooded. Be careful not to mistake the gorgeous viewpoint for the summit!
Recommended route: Edmands Path
- 360-degree views of all the Southern Presidentials which includes Mt Washington.
- The AMC’s Mizpah Spring Hut is located approximately 2.5 miles to the southwest of the summit of Mt. Eisenhower and AMC’s Lakes of the Clouds Hut is located approximately 2.5 miles to the northeast of the summit of Mt. Eisenhower. Either can be used as an overnight stop for those who wish to continue hiking in the Presidential range. Both huts require a reservation and are not open year round. Check AMC for more details.
- spectacular 360 degree views from its summit including a stunning vantage of Franconia Ridge, as well as the Green Mountains and Adirondacks in the other direction.
Considerations: The “chimney” can be rather nerve-racking, especially when wet or icy. There is a bypass available, though. This would only be used if you include East Osceola in your route. Note- with East peak, the hike will be 8.4 miles, 2950′ elevation gain, and a book time of 5:40
- Really amazing trailwork and some fun sections heading up! A perfect beginner hike.
- There are some beautiful views from the summit, plus next time you ski Waterville, you can say you hiked it! 😉
- While it is a great beginner hike for those new to the NH 4K list, don’t let the numbers deceive you. Prepare for this hike by training on smaller peaks as there are some long, steady climbs that do get fairly steep.
- Views are beautiful but not as dramatic as some of the options above as it is in the Waterville Valley area and not surrounded by many taller peaks.
And there you have it! With these peaks, you will be on your way to becoming a peak bagger! Make sure to consult the many resources available online and in book form before you start your hike.
Are you planning on starting your New Hampshire 4000-footer journey this year? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below!
Last modified: October 14, 2015
Thanks for the recommendations! I’m going to begin the list on Tecumseh hopefully in June!!
I felt so lost looking at all the peaks and where to start. This helps a ton! What a great resource 😀
Pierce and Eisenhower in one hike. Loved it ! Not too tough and view is incredible. Do it on a clear day.
I have a friend who is really active (hikes, works out at the gym, bikes, etc) that wants to do a 4k with me when he visits in June. Which would be the best option for someone that only has time for one?
I would recommend Jackson. Really amazing views and the terrain is pretty varied. For someone in good shape, you would be able to tag the summit, enjoy the views and be back down in enough time for a bite to eat at Moat Mountain 🙂
Thank you for this list!! I want to try out one this weekend but I’m a little nervous about ice/snow still being around. I don’t have any special equipment if there is still ice. Do you think any of these in particular would a safe bet or should I wait a few more weeks?
I just hiked Moosilauke Sunday night. The road is closed and there is still a lot of snow. Not much ice though. I would wait a few weeks to begin as the conditions get pretty horrid this time of year! It’ll be worth waiting for 🙂
Great site! Very informative. I took your advice and started with some smaller mountains (Mount Monadnock & Plymouth Mountian). In the first week of October I hiked Tecumseh and two days ago my wife and I hiked Osceola and East Osceola from Tripoli Road. It was great! I’m probably done for the season. As when winter comes I prefer to ride the chairlift, but I’m already thinking about some great 2016 hikes.
That’s awesome! It really is starting to look like winter out there. I think if you’re just starting out, taking a break from higher peaks is a good idea, but you should try and scope out some winter hiking gear deals at the end of winter because you might be rearing to do some winter hiking by next year! Good luck on your 4000 footer journey!!
Decided to begin my 4000 foot journey with Mt. Moosilauke. Driving to the lodge, I must have taken a wrong turn and passed by the Beaver Brook trailhead instead. Thought, OK, guess I’ll go that way. I knew it is a difficult trail, and boy, was it ever. There is a sign that recommends to use another trail if you are not experienced. I was geared up properly, so I gave it a shot. 2000 foot vertical in the first mile, total of 3100. That first half mile was a killer, extremely steep with iron handholds and steps drilled into the rock. The nice thing is after that, it’s only another 1100 feet vertical in the next 2 miles to the top. 5 hour round trip for me.
So, my point is, if you are going to hike Moosilauke, and you are just getting started, Beaver Brook is not recommended. Find the lodge and start there, or just be prepared for a difficult Beaver Brook hike.
I am new at this and wondering if the times mentioned on trails are one way or in and back?
This is a great site. Very informative
Thanks for this list! I’m just starting out (2 of 48) and starting to think about some easy to moderate winter hikes. I did Cannon in Sept and Moosilauke (Beaver Brook – absolutely loved this one despite the mild hangover and rugged terrain) just this past weekend, but I don’t want to kill my momentum by skipping the next ~5 months to avoid snow and ice. Do you have any recommendations on beginner/intermediate winter hikes in the NH 4k list?
Sorry for the delay! Moosilauke via Beaver Brook is a hard one! It’s like a jungle gym! In winter, the bigger obstacle is getting used to gear, layers, the elements. I would stay away from peaks that have a lot of above treeline exposure (northern presidentials, franconia ridge). Also make sure to see which trails are longer in winter by seeing if the trailhead is on a forest road that closes in winter. It’ll come right up by Googling. A few good ones- Tecumseh, Jackson, Pierce, Hale, Waumbek (super long drive though). Willey, Field, and Tom is an awesome ~10 mile triple peak hike when you start peak bagging! Great winter hike!
I’ve recently rediscovered my love for hiking while I’ve been going through a tough time in my life. I passed this love of hiking on to my oldest son from the time he could walk and I’ve been watching him dangle off of so many amazing Peaks while I sat home miserable and unsatisfied! I’ve been pushing myself harder and harder, getting more experience and confidence as I go. I decided to set a goal for myself to conquer and this was it! I’m gonna push myself through the NH 4000 list hopefully over the next year! I want to Thru-hike the AT in a couple years when my kids have graduated and I think this will be a good warm up! So I was sitting here thinking ok this week has been awful and I’ve been crying more than smiling! I need that real therapy that I can only get from the mountains! I have tomorrow off and completely clear so I thought this should be the day I bag my 1st 4k peak but where to start? Then I find this article on your site and TADA my list is started! Thank you thank you for being a resource for those of us with the fire in our bellies for hiking without the knowledge only gained from experience! Keep them coming!!!✌️ Billie
We are headed to Mount Jackson this weekend. Traveling with a 10 yr, 15 yr, 40 yr, and 65 yr. Will we survive? My husband will plow thru this in no time so I’m more concerned about myself (somewhat fit) and my 10 yr old. Thoughts?
Your kid may surprise you! Jackson is a great moderate 4k with nice variety and fantastic views at the top for motivation! A few things to make sure you don’t end up on the news 😉 – bring plenty of water (I’d bring 1.5-2 liters each), map, compass, study shoes. It’s a busy area during summer weekends so you’ll have plenty of company! I’d also get there early to get parking and get some of the steep uphill sections done before it gets too hot out. Bring snacks that will fuel your hike! Take your time and enjoy it 🙂 Worst that can happen is you’ll have to turn around and go back another day but I bet you’ll do well. Tell me how it goes!!
Hi Alison, Love your site here! One question – is Book Time one way, or round trip?
I’m curious where you see the best sunrise and sunsets in NH?
Hello, which of the routes above would be best to hike with a dog? Thanks!
We just hiked Tecumseh with a dog and he was fine.
This list is great, we already did Tecumseh, doing Oceala this weekend and Moosilaiuke the following week.
Allison, I love this site. It provides awesome information for hikers of all levels.
For everyone asking about the “Book Time”. Times published in hiking books are round trip but only includes hiking time. So if you are planning to spend 40 minutes at views or are planning to sit down and eat lunch somewhere that time would be added. If you’ve been hiking for a while I think you will typically find you go faster than the “Book Time”. But for anyone starting out it is a very good guide.
Would your list change for winter hiking? I just finished the Belknap range to earn my patch and now I want to start on the 48-4K’s, but I don’t want to wait until the spring.