The Welch-Dickey Loop goes over two rocky summits at the entrance to Waterville Valley, easily visible from I-93 near Exit 28. This trail is very popular with locals and youth groups as evidenced by the size of the parking lot and the number of cars usually there, but it does have real dangers. It is a great hike in good weather for athletic people who like scrambling over ledges, but otherwise should be avoided. If you have small children or clumsy friends, you might want to scout the route before inviting them or else be prepared to turn back.
There are three general kinds of rock ledges encountered on this hike:
* Large open slabs of moderately steep gradient often visible from the highway. While a tennis ball dropped here might roll several hundred feet, a hiker with good tread should be able to walk up and down them without slipping. The trail should be followed carefully to avoid steeper areas. Nervous people or those with inadequate footwear should stay away, and everyone should stay away in wet weather.
* Abrupt climbs up vertical steps of waist height or so, usually located in the woods so if you slip you will slide only to where you started. If your preferred method for getting up involves knees, long pants are better on the rough rocks.
* Adjacent to the trail but not on it are some genuine cliffs, so be careful to stay on the trail and watch wandering children and pets.
There are two versions of this hike that may be suitable for people who find the whole loop too difficult:
* The hike up to the first viewpoint on Welch Mountain requires only minimal ledge walking, and there are stunning views from the ledge.
* The ascent of Dickey Mountain by the return loop is much easier than going over Welch, involving only a couple of steep climbs and fewer steep slabs than going over Welch. Be sure to return the same way you came up instead of descending over Welch.
Distance: Around loop, about 4.4 miles
Elevation gain: About 1800 feet ascent, the same on descent
Maps: USGS Waterville Valley
AMC Moosilauke-Kinsman or Crawford Notch-Sandwich Range
Location: White Mountains Region
NH 2003-2004 map I-7
DeLorme NHA&G 39-C13/B14 - Thornton/Waterville Valley
Waterville Valley is reached via NH Route 49 from Exit 28 of I-93
Trailhead: Parking area on Orris Road, off Mad River Road, elevation about 1100 feet
43.9052°N, 71.5883°W (WGS84)
WMNF fee site
From Exit 28 of I-93, take NH Route 49 NE about 5.9 miles, and turn L on Mad River Road. (There is a sign but it may sneak up on you.) After .7 miles turn R on Orris Road, and after another .6 miles turn R into parking lot. The trail leaves from the upper end of the parking lot.
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