Trail Distance: 4.4 miles (book), 6.7 miles (MapMyHike)
Elevation Gain: 1,800 ft (book), 1,663 ft (MapMyHike)
Terrain Rating: Intermediate
Time In: 9:31AM
Time Out: 1PM
Conditions: Very icy, drifted snow
Trailhead: The trailhead is at the end of the Welch-Dickey Parking Lot. From 93-N, take Exit 28 and head towards Waterville Valley on Route 49 East. Take a left onto Upper Mad River Road and then a right onto Orris Road. Parking fee is $3.
The Welch-Dickey Loop is a perfect intermediate hike in the summer. The ascent is gradual, the scrambling isn't as rugged as most of the 4000 footers, and the mileage is manageable. In the winter, the granite slabs become icy slabs (i.e. mother nature's slides!!) and can be quite dangerous without the proper gear. Crampons were a must on this trip. Going counter-clockwise is the more popular route, although we saw a few footprints going the other way as well. The summits of both Mt. Welch and Mt. Dickey offer a vast number of beautiful panoramic views. The drive from Boston is also a very manageable 2 hours. No wonder it's such a popular hike!!
From the trailhead, head right to Welch Mountain to start your counter-clockwise loop. For the first mile, the ascent is extremely gradual. The trail is clearly marked by yellow blazes. There are two small water crossings in the first section of your hike, both very manageable. Soon you will begin your ascent up to the Welch Mountain.
At the next sign with a bright yellow arrow, turn right and follow the logs to the open ledges. This next part is tricky, and we had to search around for a bit before we found where the trail goes off to. The yellow blazes were all covered with ice at this point, so we had to rely on old footprints to find our way around. Walking towards the open ledges, follow the path left until you see a square rock. Before you reach the square rock, turn left and then an immediate right to get to the next sign. From here it is only 0.5 miles to the Mt. Dickey summit. Although it is only a short distance, the connecting trail from Welch to Dickey is full of slippery, icy slabs. Tucker was ok here with minimal help. The slabs were reasonable if you have traction. I needed a hand up a few high rocks, but nothing too bad.
The summit of Mt. Dickey offers 360 degree panoramic views of the area (Franconia Ridge and Franconia Notch). It can also be pretty windy up here. The trail continues to the other end of the mountain. Again, the yellow blazes were covered with ice so we had to pay more attention to navigation. Coming down Mt. Dickey was extremely fun. Aside from a few narrow trails, the descent is full of granite slabs that are open and without obstacles. The quick way down is to slide down, and that's exactly what we did! Your total descent is 2.1 miles until you reach the parking lot.
All in all it was a great winter hike. We only saw four people today, no other dogs. One couple had a sled with them. Athletic dogs should be just fine for a winter hike at Welch-Dickey. I was surprised when MapMyHike was over 2 miles off from the book trail distance, but who knows how accurate a free app is.
- 2L of water
- 5 Granola bars
- Wool socks, a beanie, ski goggles
- 1 baselayer shirt and a snowboarding jacket
- Salomon Anka CS WP
- Snow pants
- Osprey Pack
- Insulated gloves
- Kahtoola Microspikes (traction gear is a must!)
- Emergency Gear: Map & GPS, Headlamp, First-Aid Kit, Swiss Army Knife