NH Family Hikes

Black Mountain

Length: 3.6 miles out-and-back

Difficulty (click for info): Hard

Elevation Gain: 1600 feet (+80 feet on return)

Rating (click for info): 7/10

Elevation: 2828'

Prominence: 659'

Driving Directions:
Trailhead and parking area are on Lime Kiln Road in Haverhill, NH (summit is in Benton). Lime Kiln Road leaves the north side of Rt. 25 8.8 miles northwest of Rt. 118 and 4.9 miles east of Rt. 10. The parking area is 3.1 miles up Lime Kiln Road, on the right side. Look for a Chippewa Trail sign. Click here for a Google map.

About the Hike:
The most notable mountain of its name in New Hampshire, this Black Mountain is located in the Benton Range, in the far western extent of the White Mountains. One of only two trail-accessible mountains in the range, it provides nearly 360-degree views from its wide, rocky summit, as well as a very scenic hike that incorporates a fun bit of three-dimensional history. It's 52-With-a-View recognized summit lies in the shadow of the monstrous Mt. Moosilauke and offers a unique view of a quieter region of the Whites.

The Chippewa Trail begins in a wetland. It descends a dirt staircase, and winds through through the open forest. It crosses two brooks, then passes a beaver pond with a view of Sugarloaf Mountain. It then leaves the wetland area and leads out to a logging road in 0.2 miles. Here, you can take a short historical detour to see the Black Mountain Lime Kilns, which were once used to process limestone from the best limestone quarry in the country. Turn left onto the logging road and walk 50 yards, then turn right onto a path that leads to the kilns. A kiosk gives some history about the kilns. Climb the hillside behind the tallest one to see inside.

The main trail turns right to follow the logging road, but soon bears left off of it (watch for blazes) to climb moderately uphill. It passes a Forest Society property sign while climbing. The trail passes an old foundation in a clearing, descends slightly, then begins to climb much more steeply. Soon, 0.65 miles from the old road, the trail encounters stiffer terrain and begins switchbacks, transitioning into evergreen forest. After a quarter-mile climb, a spur on the right leads to a ledge with a great view to the south toward Smarts Mountain, Mt. Cube, and Piermont Mountain, and west into Vermont. The trail continues climbing 0.1 miles to another viewpoint to the west on a small shoulder of the mountain's western ridge. It crosses the short flat area and and soon emerges on open ledges with good views in another 0.1 miles. The trail weaves intermittently over the open ledges for 0.2 miles and then re-enters the forest and circles around the summit to ascend from the north side. It merges with the less scenic Black Mountain Trail coming from the north and reaches the summit in another 0.1 miles.

The first thing that strikes you at the summit is a great close-up view of the massively looming Mt. Moosilauke, with the indistinct blob of Mt. Clough in between it and you. The view also shows over the trees to the northeast toward the Kinsman Range with the Franconia Range behind. A bit of exploration is needed to get all the best viewpoints. Start by turning to the right and walking to the end of the opening. You should see a path through the vegetation, which will lead you out to another set of ledges with a more western aspect. Here, you can look south to Cube, Smarts, and Piermont as before, as well as have an unobstructed vista of the Vermont horizons. Mt. Cardigan can also be picked out in the distance beside Moosilauke and Clough. The eastern ledges are a little more difficult to navigate to, but if you find them, you can commandeer your own private viewing area most of the time. Walk in the opposite direction from the western ledge and stay off to the left. You should be able to find paths through a section of trees that leads to an open area. The tips of Mts. Lafayette and Lincoln just barely poke over the summits of Cannon Mountain and the Kinsmans. The triangular forms of Mts. Liberty and Flume are in full view. A few other summits poke up behind the long trailing ridge of Mt. Wolf to the right of the Kinsmans, including Scar Ridge all the way on the right toward Moosilauke. If you want to be adventurous, an even more open expanse of ledges with views more to the north is found further down in this direction.

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