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Hedgehog Mountain

Length: 4.8 miles out-and-back with loop

Difficulty (click for info): Hard

Elevation Gain: 1400 feet

Rating (click for info): 7/10

Elevation: 2532'

Prominence: 472'

Driving Directions:
Trailhead and parking area are on Kancamagus Highway in Albany, NH (summit is in Waterville Valley). The parking area is on the south side of the road, 21.0 miles east of Rt. 93 at exit 32 in Lincoln and 14.2 miles west of Rt. 16 in Conway. It is signed for Downes Brook, UNH, and Mt. Potash Trails.

About the Hike:
Although several roads in the White Mountains rise to a higher elevation than the summit of this insignificant mountain and that of its neighbor, Potash Mountain (the hike to Potash begins at the same parking area), Hedgehog Mountain commands views greater than many higher peaks. Good views are found at the summit, including an impressive close-up look at Mt. Passaconaway, and even better views from the mountain's east ledges, where you can look out into the Sandwich Range wilderness over the valley of Oliverian Brook. The UNH Trail makes a nice loop over both of these. We have described it in the counter-clockwise direction, visiting the best viewpoint last.

From the parking area, step onto the Downes Brook Trail and immediately turn left onto UNH Trail. After 0.2 miles of flat walking, turn right to stay on the trail where a cross-country ski trail continues straight. Then, cross a logging road and stay straight where another ski trail turns right. The trail now begins to climb moderately, soon passing a logged area with limited views. At 0.8 miles from the parking area, bear right onto the west fork of the loop. The trail continues its ascent for a short distance on an old logging road, then makes an abrupt left turn, where it drops to cross a stream and becomes steeper on the other side. In 0.3 miles from the loop junction, a spur path on the left climbs to Alan's Ledge, a lookout beside a huge rock face, where there is a good view of the Moat Range. The main trail continues ascending to a flat spot, then continues its steep climb, reaching forested ledges in half a mile. Just before reaching the summit, a spur path on the right leads out to a wide ledge with views over the trees of the Tripyramids and the south-central White Mountains. More open views to the south and east are found from the summit. These views are mainly close-up. Mt. Chocorua is seen off to the left, above Hedgehog's east ledges, which you will visit later; Mt. Paugus is in front and to the right. Next over are several spurs of Mt. Passaconaway, including Square Ledge, Wonalancet Hedgehog, and Nanamocomuck Peak. Furthest to the right is the giant wooded mass of Mt. Passaconaway itself.

The trail descends quickly from the summit over ledges, switchbacking rapidly. At the base of the summit cone, the trail turns sharply left and swings around the south side of the summit, soon passing some impressive cliffs. Next, it makes a short, easy climb to to the east ledges, reached at 0.8 miles from the summit. Here, the views are similar to those from the summit, but much more open, so you can look straight down into the valley. You can now see the Moat Range and look back at the summit. From here, it is an easy 1.3 mile descent back to the loop junction.


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