The Pemi Loop is a collection of trails in the White Mountains that connect to create a lollipop loop out of the Lincoln Woods Visitor Center. It is considered one of the best hikes in the Northeast given its route over a whole bunch of 4,000 footers in NH. It is a strenuous hike (as most in the Whites are) but the views you get are worth it! My buddy, Dan, and I planned a three day adventure over Memorial Day weekend. We intended to do the whole loop which would be a brisk, although not crazy pace. Some folks have done the 31.5 miles in 7 hours! I don’t understand trail running… I prefer to take in what I’m walking through (and not nearly fit enough to run up a mountain). You can see a good map of the loop here. At ~10 miles per day, we figured we’d be OK but the weather, and our stamina, ended up having other ideas.
The trip started out later than we had hoped. We wanted to get to the trailhead Friday night, sleep in the car, and get an early start on Saturday. Unfortunately, I was coming back from a trip and my flight was delayed. It meant that we had to stay overnight at home and then drive up in the morning. That put us 4 hours or so behind the schedule which was unfortunate but unavoidable. We started out form the Lincoln Woods Visitor Center and jumped on the Lincoln Woods trail. We followed that over a suspension bridge (pictured above) and walked about 1.4 fairly level miles where we forked left onto the Osseo Trail. The Osseo Trail started as a gradual incline but then became steeper and steeper over the 4.1 miles to Mount Flume. It was a tough slog and to start the hike with the steepest climb I can recall was a rude awakening!
Luckily, the trail was well maintained and had wooden steps for much of the climb. So while it was relentless, the footing was good. I would definitely like to describe a switchback to the trail folks in the Whites though… going straight up the mountain is not the easiest route! The summit of Flume was a welcome relief and we took a while to rest there. The views were amazing thanks to the clear skies – some of the clearest days I’ve seen in the Whites. We made a plan to camp at the Liberty Spring Tentsite which was past Mount Liberty, about 7.5 miles from our starting point.
The Osseo Trail continued 1.2 miles over to Mount Liberty. It dropped down more than we would’ve liked – always hate to lose elevation – but it wasn’t too bad. On the other side of Liberty, the Osseo Trail meets up with the Franconia Ridge Trail and also joins the Appalachian Trail. We decided not to turn left toward the Liberty Spring Tentsite (downhill) but instead continued on another mile or so toward Little Haystack Mountain. Even though the tent platforms would have been nice, we didn’t want to walk down to the site and have to walk back up in the morning. We ended up pulling off the trail (before the alpine zone) that had obviously been used before. There wasn’t much in the way of water but we were able to melt snow and then filter it to get the dirt out. All in all, it was a gorgeous first day!
It was my first time using my new tent (Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2) in the field. It performed really well. Dan and I aren’t overly small guys and we fit comfortably. It was simple to pitch and well ventilated. We stayed warm and dry. You can read more about the gear I use over on my Gear List.