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Artist's Bluff and Bald Mountain

Length: 1.8 mile loop

Difficulty (click for info): Moderate

Elevation Gain: 600 feet

Rating (click for info): 7/10

Elevation: 2340'

Prominence: 320'

Best Time to Visit:
Bald Mountain's distant views show best on a fairly clear day. The view of the notch and the lake is best when the sun is shining.

Driving Directions:
Trailhead and parking area are on Rt. 18 in Franconia, NH. Park at the parking area for Echo Lake, 0.3 miles west of Rt. 93 at exit 34C.

About the Hike:
These two popular peaks at the north end of Franconia Notch are dwarfed by their surroundings, but their hiking trail is surprisingly rugged and should not be underestimated. Both have good views, but Bald Mountain's view in particular is spectacular. From the parking area at Echo Lake, cross the road and walk east to the trailhead for the Veterans Trail. The trail enters the woods (bear right, Loop Trail goes left) and passes glimpses of Artist's Bluff ahead. It immediately begins a steep and rocky climb around the back of the Artist's Bluff cliffs. In just 0.2 miles, it reaches the top, where a spur leads out to the cliff. This picturesque viewpoint, though not a very high perspective, offers a sweeping view of the valley on this side of the notch. Just across the highway, rugged Eagle Cliff rises from the floor of the notch. Mighty Mt. Lafayette looms high above. Echo Lake lies at the foot of Cannon Mountain's Ski Area, on the opposite side.

The trail continues climbing steeply to the top of the hill on which Artist's Bluff is located. There is a limited view of Cannon Mountain here. A slight descent follows, then a short climb over a knob, and finally the trail descends to the Bald Mountain spur, 0.4 miles from Artist's Bluff. The spur climbs moderately, circling around the side of Bald Mountain. After a short climb, the trail emerges on the summit ledges and makes a steep scramble over the rock, arriving at the summit in 0.1 miles. The views here are more extensive than they were on Artist's Bluff. You can see into Vermont to the west and to the Pliny and Pilot Ranges to the northeast. To complete the loop, return to the junction and continue on the trail. It descends easily 0.3 miles to an alternative parking area; just before this, turn left onto Loop Trail and continue 0.4 miles across the slope to the beginning of the loop.


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