NH Notes: Hiking the Valley

(This post is also at mccartyseasons.com and is part of a rundown of activities to do in the Washington Valley of New Hampshire. I am an owner of the condo located at the Seasons of Attitash that we rent to families and groups alike)

So the McCarty Family Vacation has begun in earnest and two of our visits has included hiking! Now keep in mind that we are a family of 5 with three kids under 9 so long hikes are not exactly what kids this age can handle. But this is not to say that they cannot do it – afterall where there is a will, there is a way! (And they definitely shoes plenty of will) So what were the two hikes we undertook this week? First is Mt Williard and the second was Cranmore Mountain. 

Before jumping into the detail of our hiking adventures, let’s start with a “recap” of sorts. My blog posts on the McCartySeasons site have been limited over the past few years (life gets in the way and there is a ton of notes already) but I have found real life experiences have helped those who have stayed with us (especially on the review side) so my hope this week is to post a bunch of notes to the Bmacrunning blog as well as the condo’s blog giving my running friends a flavor for my condo business and at the same time adding content to the condo business website. Now, moving on!


So our first hiking visit during this vacation was to Mt Willard which is located about 20 minutes from our condo north on 302 in Carroll County. It is located right before the Appalachian Mount Club and features a 1.6 mile hike to the top which overlooks some pretty amazing views (one of their pics is below). The climb is not super steep but a challenge with the very rocky path (making matters worse, we went hours after a rain storm which lead to “streams” on various parts of the path). Add in kids who are small, this makes some of the climbs a bit tough but nothing that is insurmountable.

Here are some quick hits on the route.

  • Beware of the change in Temps! So the first characteristic of this hike is the change in temps. Things are about 10-15 degrees cooler here than in Bartlett but as you climb, due to effort, your temps rise. Long and short of it…bring something to carry clothes. We brought backpacks.
  • Snack time on top. When we hit the top, it was a great point to have a snack. It also served as a great time to relax and catch our breath before making our way down
  • Water a must! There are some places on the path that you can stop for a quick drink or snack. One is Centennial Pool and there are a few other water falls along the route.
  • Bathrooms and trash cans. There are bathrooms at the base so use them before hiking up 1.6miles and then down 1.6 miles. As for trash cans, there are no such items to be seen as New Hampshire requires you to take everything out that you brought with you. Keep that in mind!

So to summarize, it is a good hike for a family and a dog (yes, we brought the greyhound up the path). The AllTrails site has a good brief on this mountain and there is also a shop at the bottom, near the AMC center if you are looking for more. Oh, it also tires out the kids well (which might be even more important to some)!


So our second hike was on Cranmore Mountain. It was a surprise hike because we never intended to actually hike down this ski mountain. We took the lift to the top at the end of the day   – this followed mountain coaster rides, bunge trampoline jumping, zip lines and rock walls from earlier (which will be a separate post though you can read this piece from a few years ago on the summer events). Following some discussion with the kids on whether when we should head back down, the discussion moved to “why don’t we follow the hiking trail” and skip the lift!

So we started down from the top and for the first 10 minutes everything was fine. Then it all went downhill! (Literally since we are going down the hill). We followed the signs but got diverted as we missed a sign and then that is when it got bad on so many levels. First, we lost the hiking signs (following another family) and when we came back to the starting point of this mistake, we ended up following signs to CLIMB the mountain and not decend it!

We started down from the point where we realized our second mistake following what we  think are car or ATV paths. Now, when you are guessing where to go and have three tired kids with you seeing this, things gets very problematic! First the oldest one sprained an ankle. Then her sister cut her leg and finally their brother melted down because…well it was his turn to do something! Just a fun pot of something!

We found a “rhythm” so to speak about 15 minutes from there following a blue ski trail down. Eventually we found the path that happened to run under the main lift and continued down it as (so the bottom came into site). All told, it took is an hour to get down and I have no idea how many actual miles it was! I can say it was physically tough due to the slant and mentally tough due to everything else that was playing out! When we hit the bottom, it was a great feeling – almost the one I had completing my first marathon a few months ago! (We also so an enormous ground hog which was kind of cool)

Now, while this hike was not fun, it did feature some amazing views of the valley. With the picture above, I was able to get Mount Washington in the background. You can also see virtually everything else it seems nearby including Conway Village, Cathedral Ledge and Attitash. 

So what is my recommendation? Definitely visit and take the chair to the top (the summer activies are great and the aerial park is a blast). But if you are not an experienced hiker and with a young family, I would skip the hiking path. Just not worth the aggrivation of staying on the path, avoiding the mostly uncut high grass (much different than other mountains I train in running wise) and the lack of direction. Just too hard to manage!

So there you have it. Two hiking trips with far different outcomes. Yet, both decent trips down their respective mountains!

So that is about it. Thank you for reading and more of these condo pieces will be coming soon!



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