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27 April 2011

A Timeless Hike: Bald Mountain – Artist's Bluff Loop

On most Wednesdays I have an obligation which results in so little time for hiking that I usually don't bother to go out. However, on this particular Wednesday (27-April) I opted to take the hour and half that was available to me and do the short loop-hike over Bald Mountain and Artist's Bluff. It seemed like a good "fit" since it would take less than 15 minutes to drive from my home in Bethlehem to the trailhead located at the top of the Franconia Notch. And besides, it had it been several years since I'd done this short hike and so it seemed like a good time for a refresher course!

Probably most everyone who is reading this report has done this loop-hike at least once. It is a timeless hike that folks have been doing since the mid 1800s. Possibly there were some early trekkers who made their way to Bald Mountain and Artist's Bluff even before the Profile House opened in 1853. This long-gone hotel once occupied the space that is now the parking lot for the Cannon Mountain Tramway. Click HERE if you're interested in reading more about the history of the Profile House.

As I was looking through the photos that I took on my short hike, it struck me that if you can ignore the intrusion of I-93, today's view is basically the same as seen by hikers over 150 years ago.

Just for the fun of it, I grabbed some historical images from the Internet to compare to my photos. Shown below are two photo collages. The first collage compares one of my snapshots to an oil painting done in 1887 by Edward Hill. And the second collage compares an old postcard to one of my snapshots. The oil painting and the postcard both show the old Profile House resting at the south end of Echo Lake.
And, even though most readers have similar snapshots in their collection, nonetheless shown below are a few additional photos taken during this brief hike.

View from Bald Mountain
View from a Ledge between Bald Mountain and Artist's Bluff
View from Artist's Bluff
After my hike, I took a quick jaunt down to the shore of Echo Lake. The wind was whipping up small waves and whitecaps!
The trails involved in this hike were the Bald Mtn/Artist's Bluff Path, plus the Short Circuit Trail which connects the two ends of the Bald Mtn/Artist's Bluff Path, and thus enables you to return to the same trailhead where you parked.

With a total distance of about 1.4 miles, I think this loop hike is ideal for anyone seeking a short and extremely satisfying White Mountain adventure!
Leaving a comment via this Blog is always appreciated. However, if you prefer to ask a question or make a comment via a personal E-mail, then you may contact me at: randonneur8 at yahoo dot com.


Summerset said...

What a great little hike, and I always find historical photos fascinating, so those were a real treat, too.

This is the first hike I ever took my daughter and son on. They were 6 and 4, respectively. I remember a couple of things, one, that they weren't deterred in the least by all the ledges and scrambled up and down like little monkeys. Two, was the introduction of my son to the ways of the backwoods bio-break. He had to go, and so I directed him down a little side track towards some trees and told him to go down there. He looked down through the trees and looked back at me a bit puzzled and said, "Mom, there's no potties down there!". LOL. I suppose I had a little more explaining to do!

1HappyHiker said...

Summerset, thanks for posting your comments, and I did a “LOL” when reading your delightful story about introducing your son to the all important “backwoods bio-break”!

Glad you enjoyed the few snippets of historical photos that were inserted into the Blog. Like you, I’m also fascinated by old photos.


Mark B said...

Very neat photo comparison. Once I get through my 48, this will be on my list.

Mark B.

1HappyHiker said...

Mark . . . best wishes to you regarding your NH48 quest!

Thank you for the nice feedback about the photo comparison.


Steve Smith said...


Great idea to compare the painting/postcard with your photos. It seems Eagle Cliff and Lafayette have undergone some serious erosion over the last 124 years!


My Life Outdoors said...

I have never done this hike but it looks beautiful!

Anonymous said...

I love the historic photos next to your own.

I tend not to do short hikes like this if there is a long drive involved. This one looks like it would be worth doing if combined with another short hike in the area.

Elizabeth (and Salty and Gracie)

1HappyHiker said...

Steve, thank you for posting a reply.
Hmmm! Regarding the erosion that you mentioned, maybe that's why it's called Artist's Bluff!:) Perhaps in Mr. Hill's 1887 painting there was a bit of "bluff" (a.k.a. "artistic license") being employed in order to emphasize the size of Eagle Cliff & Mt. Lafayette!:)
[My Life Outddors] Steven . . . yes indeed, this is a beautiful little hike. It provides quite a big payoff for very little time and effort.


1HappyHiker said...

[Anonymous]Elizabeth, thank you for your positive feedback about the photo comparisons used in this Blog.

And yes, you’re absolutely right about combining the brief Bald Mtn/Artist’s Bluff mini-loop hike with something else. Unless you live in the immediate area as I do (or you’re camping nearby), it’s really too short to consider as a “stand alone” hike. It could be combined with another short hike in the area such as Bridal Veil Falls. Or, I think it would be entirely doable to combine it with a longer hike such as a trek to Mt. Lafayette which is right across the road.


Grant said...

I have never heard of this hike but it looks great! These kind of hikes make me wish I lived in New Hampshire!

1HappyHiker said...

Grant, this goes back many, many years ago, but I have an Uncle who used to live in the Berkshire Region of MA which is not too far from your location in Hadley. I have pleasant memories of hiking in that area. No doubt about it, the White Mtns of NH is sort of a Mecca for fine hiking, but I think you’d agree that it’s enjoyable to be outdoors and hiking, regardless of where you do it!

Thanks for posting your comment!