NH Family Hikes

Middle and Peaked Mountains

Length: 5.4 miles out-and-back with loop

Difficulty (click for info): Moderate

Elevation Gain: 1680 feet

Rating (click for info): 7/10

Elevation: 1857' (Middle) and 1739' (Peaked)

Prominence: 367' (Middle) and 169' (Peaked)

Driving Directions:
Trailhead and parking area are on Thompson Road in Conway, NH. To get there, turn east onto Artists Falls Road from Rt. 16, 1.9 miles north of the southern junction with Rt. 302 and 2.8 miles south of the southern junction with Rt. 16A. Drive 0.5 miles and take a right onto Thompson Road. Continue 0.3 miles up around a left turn to the roadside parking area on the right side. Take note there is strict no-parking policy all areas around the trailhead, so if the designated lot is full, you will have to park quite a distance away. Click here for a Google map.

About the Hike:
Middle and Peaked Mountains are a pair of summits at the southern end of the Green Hills. This low, verdant region of miniature mountains is enclosed within The Nature Conservancy's Green Hills Preserve, which aims to protect, among other things, the red pine-rocky ridge environment found on the notable summits of the hills. It also opens up the range with a well-cared for trail network, which webs over the whole area and accesses Black Cap, the top of the Cranmore Ski Area, and Middle and Peaked Mountains. These two summits are surprisingly tough to climb for sub-2000 foot mountains, mostly owing to the very low altitude of the whole town of Conway, where the hike begins, and some of the sharp pitches on the mountains' many open ledges. Both summits offer excellent views over Conway, the most "urban" hub of the White Mountains from a down-low perspective, and both store the treasure of a gorgeous red pine habitat on their summits. Middle is the more forested of the two, and offers a better view of the southern horizon. Peaked is formed by cliffs, and its summit is open in more directions.

Your hike begins at the small Nature Conservancy trailhead. Head down the wide forest corridor for 0.15 miles to an informational kiosk. Take a left and cross the powerline swath. Avoid the right fork, which is a bike trail, and stay to the left as the trail heads into the woods. The path starts out as a wide dirt track through level forest, then ascends a little bit to reach the loop junction after half a mile. A sign marks the edge of the Green Hills Preserve. Bear right onto Middle Mountain Trail as the path takes you into a narrow brook valley. The trail climbs gradually, then more steeply, through bright and open trees, leading alongside a cascading brook. After another half mile, the walls of the valley squeeze the trail close together with the brook and it climbs up past a slippery ledge and leads out of the ravine. You part ways with the brook for now and continue 0.2 miles to a junction with Peaked Mountain Connector. This will allow you access to the Peaked Mountain Trail after you've visited Middle Mountain. Continue straight on the Middle Mountain Trail as it meanders easily for 0.2 miles and swings around to cross the brook higher up. The trail curls around the back side of the summit and ascends at a moderate pace for a quarter mile. Pass the first of the ledges and cross a small level area before making the final climb to the top in another quarter mile. The trail surmounts a long sloping ledge and arrives on the narrow summit area, decorated with sparse pines and low bushes. A whimsical walk through the unique landscape takes you to the highest point, where there are two good viewpoints, one straight ahead and one down to the right. The one straight ahead presents a far-reaching vista southward over the hill country around Conway Lake and over toward the Ossipee Range. The ledge to the right has a clear view over the downtown area, as well as Pudding Pond. Behind the town rises Mt. Chocorua, with Mts. Whiteface and Passaconaway behind to its right. Behind the lake is the Moat Mountain ridge.

For your next destination, make your way back to the Peaked Mountain Connector and follow it uphill as it ascends in the direction of the cliffs which make up Peaked Mountain's summit. The trail climbs directly upslope, then slices across to the left, reaching the Peaked Mountain Trail in 0.3 miles. Turn right and start up a steep and rocky slope, soon coming out onto a ledgy spine, where more pines abound. In 0.15 miles, the trail skirts the top of the cliffs and comes out into the open, grassy clearing at the summit. Here, you have an unobstructed view over toward the Moats, Chocorua, and Conway, just as from Middle Mountain. Your previous destination of Middle Mountain is closeby to the south, and the highest peak of the Green Hills, Black Cap, rises to the left. In between you have a glimpse to the southeast into Maine. When you've enjoyed your stay here, return down the trail and continue straight past the connector. The trail crosses a more level area, then descends into intermittant ledges. The trail descends alternately through the forest and across broad sloping rock for the next 0.3 miles. Watch for trail markings on the open rock. Generally, the trail stays to the right across the openings. Some of these ledges are open enough to get a view of Mt. Washington to the northwest. At the bottom of the ledges, the trail makes a wide u-turn to the left as a short connector to the trail heading to Black Cap descends to the right. The main trail cuts back across the slope for 0.15 miles, then drops straight downhill rather steeply for about 0.2 miles to another junction. A connector to a private portion of Thompson Road goes straight and Black Cap Connector turns right; turn left to stay on the Peaked Mountain Trail. The trail again cuts back to the south, running flat at first along the lower slopes, then with a bit of up and down. Eventually the trail swings to the right and descends to the loop junction after half a mile. Now you can follow the trail back the way you came.

Printable directions page
Contact us at NHFamilyHikes@gmail.com

Copyright © 2014-2024 NH Family Hikes