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Bethlehem, New Hampshire, United States
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07 November 2011

Cone Mountain: A Next-Door Neighbor to Welch-Dickey Mountains

Since the mid 1800s there have been hiking trails in the Waterville Valley area of New Hampshire.  One very popular trek is a loop hike that goes over Welch Mountain and Dickey Mountain (known collectively as simply Welch-Dickey). Located very nearby is a lesser-known peak named Cone Mountain which is separated from Welch-Dickey only by the narrow corridor known as Dickey Notch.

With the reduced daylight hours of late autumn, I'm now looking for shorter hiking adventures.  I'd briefly considered hiking the 4.4 mile Welch-Dickey Loop trail on this beautiful day of 07-November.  However, it had been awhile since I'd visited Cone Mountain and so I opted to go there instead.  There are no hiking trails leading to this mountaintop, but it can be accessed by a relatively short and easy bushwhack.

For anyone who is unfamiliar with this location, shown below is a photo of the map that is posted at the trailhead for the Welch-Dickey Trail.  Cone Mountain is circled in red. (NOTE: Clicking on any photo in this report will slightly enlarge it.)

Regarding my approach route to Cone Mountain, I used the Brown Ash Swamp Bike Trail.  It diverges from the Welch-Dickey Loop Trail at the junction shown in the next photo.  This bike trail traverses the Dickey Notch and provides a link to Mill Brook Road in the Thornton area.

I followed the Brown Ash Swamp Bike Trail to a point where I could head westward on public land to reach Cone Mountain.  There are sizeable chunks of private land in this area (as shown in white on the above map).   Actually, I purposely went further north on the bike trail than was necessary.  Going the extra distance enabled me to include a visit to a ledge at the northeastern end of a ridge leading up to the summit.

Most readers would probably agree that regardless of whether you're hiking on a trail or bushwhacking, the journey itself is often as delightful as the destination.  For this particular trek, there were picturesque scenes along the route such as shown in the next two snapshots.  The first one shows a beaver pond, and the second photo is simply a typical scene while bushwhacking through the open woods en route to the summit of Cone Mountain.

In terms of sweeping vistas of distant mountains, the ledge at the beginning of my climb provided nice views toward the Franconia Range (first photo), and Mt. Moosilauke (second photo).

From the summit of Cone Mountain, there are views similar to those shown above.  In addition, there is a nice view looking eastward toward nearby Welch-Dickey, plus the more distant peaks in the Sandwich Range.

Although Cone Mountain has no actual trail leading to it, the summit has a very impressive cairn which is a real work of art.   There must be an interesting story behind the construction of this masterpiece.  And, as you will also note in the snapshot shown below, the architect even included a stone bench to compliment this structure!

To sum it up, although this adventure was short in terms of time and distance, I still found it to be a very satisfying romp in the woods.