• M. J. Wild

Challenging Hikes For The Beginner Hiker

In Northern Vermont & New Hampshire





I’ve already gone over my recommend hikes for the newbie, but most of those were super easy. If you’re looking for something on a novice level, but a little more challenging then you’ve come to the right place. Here is my list of challenging hikes for the newbie hiker rated easiest to hardest.

  1. Herbert Hawkes Trail

  2. Mount Willard

  3. Brosseau Mountain

  4. Wheeler Mountain

  5. Haystack Mountain

  6. Bald Mountain

  7. Lonesome Lake Trail

  8. Mount Elmore

  9. Monadnock Mountain

  10. Arethusa Falls and Frankenstein Cliff Trail



1. Herbert Hawkes Trail


This hike is definitely one of my favorites. It’s a great trail the offers a little bit of a challenge and not one, but 3 overlooks. At the ”T” about a mile up you turn left or right. I always start by going left. This brings you to the Mt. Hor overlook. Great view of the opposite side of the mountain. If you go right it takes you to two view points. The first one offers a incredible view of Willoughby Lake the second view point is more of a view of Mt. Pisgah. Both incredible overlooks. If your lucky and go in the spring you might even see a couple lady slippers which are very rare.


View of Willoughby Lake from Herbert Hawkes Trail
Willoughby Lake

Elevation Gain: 955 feet

Location: Willoughby State Forest. Off Route 5A onto CC road

Distance: 3.6 miles out and back

Rating: Easy

Time Frame: 1-2 hours



2. Mount Willard


This is a go to hike for me. The view is amazing and it’s challenging just enough. Great warm up hike in the spring. I don’t recommend mid summer or during fall foliage as the trail is over crowded. I tried hiking this trail in October and I thought I might have landed in Disney World there was so many people I couldn’t believe it.


View from the top of Mt. Willard
Mount Willard

Location: Carroll, New Hampshire

Elevation Gain: 900 ft.

Distance: 3.2 miles round trip , in and out

Time Frame: 2-4 hours

Rating: Easy for experienced hikers, Moderate for the newbies out there

3. Brousseau Mountain


This hidden gem is way off the beaten trail. It’s located just a mile or two from the Canadian border. We went early this spring when the road was still covered in snow. We parked a ways down and just walked to the trail head adding another mile or so to our hike. The trail wasn’t marked super well, but was easiest enough to find the trail. It was marked mostly with colored ribbons. Upon reaching the top the view was amazing and definitely worth the hike up.

View from Brousseau Mountain
Brousseau Mountain

Elevation Gain: 636 Ft.

Distance: 2.2 miles (3.8 miles if you park down the road)

Rating: Easy - Moderate

Time Frame: 1 - 2.5 hours

Location: Norton, Vermont

4. Wheeler Mountain


We hiked up this one early spring as well. Everything was still pretty brown and bleak looking. When we hiked up, there was still some sections of deep snow and icy rocks. Our micro spikes we’re definitely handy. The view was nice, but nothing too over the top. It would be a beautiful hike in the summer or fall during foliage.

View from Wheeler Mountain
Wheeler Mountain

Elevation Gain: 1,171 ft

Distance: 4.7 miles

Location: Sutton, VT

Rating: Easy to Moderate

Time Frame: 3-4 hours

5. Haystack Mountain


This was a beautiful fall hike with an amazing view. Some steep areas on the way down, but nothing too crazy. The road in was pretty narrow and remote. Parking was limited. This hike is definitely best in the fall.


View of Burke Mountain from Haystack
Haystack Mountain

Elevation Gain: 912 ft.

Location:

Rating: Moderate

Distance: 3.6 miles

Time Frame: 2-3 hours

6. Bald Mountain


This is a great hike with a 360 degree view from the fire tower at the top. Small little hut under the fire tower even had a chance to see a large hare. Some rock scrambles near the top and a little tricky in the spring with ice and snow. Micro spikes are a must during this time of year.


View from Bald Mountain fire tower
Bald Mountain

Elevation Gain: 1,483 ft

Location: Westmore, Vermont off of Long Pond Fishing Access

Rating: Moderate

Distance: 4.8 miles out and back

Time Frame: 3 hours moving

7. Lonesome Lake Trail


This is one of my favorite trails. Great hike in all seasons. It's pretty cool hiking this in winter as you can walk across the lake and there is much less traffic. Beautiful view of Franconia Ridge. During Summer/Fall hut is open for overnight stays. Access to other trails such as Cannon Mt. from this trail. Awesome hike for kids and dogs.


Elevation Gain: 1,026 ft

Location: Near Lincoln, New Hampshire. Franconia Notch

Distance: 3.1 miles

Rating: Moderate

Time Frame: 2-3 hours


See full post here

8. Mount Elmore

I loved this hike. It was a great loop with gorgeous views. Not to strenuous but can be a challenging for the beginner hiker. The view of Elmore Lake was awesome and a great big rock face offered the perfect place for a picnic.

View from Mount Elmore
Elmore Lake

Elevation Gain: 1, 493 ft.

Distance: 6.4 miles from beach parking lot. About 4.5 miles from trail head parking.

Location: Lake Elmore, VT

Rating: Moderate

Time Frame: 3-4 Hours

See full post here

9. Monadnock Mountain


I felt like I was hiking through a rainforest for this hike. It was a wet rainy day, but we didn't let that stop us. The trail was very lush and green, but was beautiful. Lots of wildflowers and a bubbling brook on the way up. The fire tower at the top offers a 360 degree view.

Old fire place from ranger station on Monadnock Mountain
Monadnock Mountain

Elevation Gain: 2,133 feet

Rating: Moderate

Location: Cannan, VT

Distance: 5.6 miles out and back

Time Frame: 2-4 hours


See full post here

10. Arethusa Falls and Frankenstein Cliff Trail


Another one of my favorite hikes. I've probably hiked this one half a dozen times. Just recently I hiked it while the falls were still frozen. Hike the entire loop or just to the falls and back. This is the tallest waterfall in New Hampshire and definitely worth the hike.

View of the Arethusa Falls
Arethusa Falls

Location: Hart's Location

Elevation Gain: 1,555 ft

Distance: 5 mile loop, including distance to waterfall

Rating: Moderate

Time Frame: 3-4 hours moving


See full post here


"The mountains whisper for me to wander; my soul hikes to the call." -Angie Weiland-Crosby






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