Dixville Notch & Table Rock, NH

• 5-star hike
• 1.7 to 5.1 mile options
• Medium & Hard difficulty | Gain 960 to 1,860 feet
• Dixville Township, NH | Great North Woods
• Driving Directions: Loop, Table, Brothers

Looking over the end of table rock at Dixville Notch with a 700 foot drop to distant scenery.
Vertigo view from the end of Table Rock and a 700 foot drop.

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Best known for being "First in the Nation" to declare the results of its presidential election voting, we declare that Dixville Notch should also be well known for having one of the best hiking trails in the state of New Hampshire.

Up in the Great North Woods of New Hampshire the scenery along State Route 26 is striking enough, particularly approaching the Dixville Notch mountain pass between Dixville Peak and Sanguinary Mountain. The picturesque setting of the Balsam hotel casting its reflection across Lake Gloriette is reason enough to compell motorists to pull off the road to admire the views. As good as the sights are from ground level, the vistas get even better if you're willing to strap on some boots and take a walk.

We've mapped out three routes for you to choose between and maps for you to follow on your smartphone. If you have the time and the energy, we recommend the full loop trail that captures a couple of great waterfalls in addition to all of the best viewpoints around the Notch. Others may prefer a shorter out-and-back route that leads to the prime platform from which to appreciate the views - Table Rock. This is a precarious rocky outcrop with a 700 foot sheer drop. Don't worry if you don't have a head for heights (like us) as there are plenty of great views at this location without having to venture out onto its tip.

Red Loop, Blue Table Rock, Orange Brothers Expand Map

Dixville Notch Loop 5★
5.1 mi, Loop, Medium-Hard, Gain 1,860 ft
Trailspotting Map: AllTrails, GPX File

Though you could begin the loop trail at any trailhead along the route, we recommend beginning at either the Cascade Brook Picnic Area or across the road at the Baby Flume waterfall. Driving directions to these trailheads are identified with 'Table' and 'Loop' links at the top of this article. Taking a clockwise path that begins with a walk up the flanks of Sanguinary Mountain gets you a good look at the Notch and a preview of the striking rocky spires of Middle Brother and Table Rock that you'll be standing atop later.

From the ridgeline of the mountain you're presented with superb views all around you before you descend into the notch, heading in the direction of the lake. In this review we reference a hard difficulty because of this section of the trail, though in reality for many people this won't be too much of a problem as long as they're hiking in good trail conditions. From time to time we experience a mild fear of heights and the initial steep rocky section heading down towards the lake certainly triggered us. Taking it slow and steady was the trick and in the end we found it to be an exhilarating experience that we'd do again in a heartbeat.

The next section requires walking along Route 26 on wide verges that keep a safe distance from the cars and trucks that barrel through the Notch from time to time. Though we'd usually be disappointed with a half-mile walk along the side of a road, in this case you have spectacular lake views to keep you company. From the Table Rock trailhead you'll be heading uphill again towards the celebrated viewpoint, which we describe in the next section.

Dixville Notch landscape photograph containing jagged rock cliffs, green trees and the beginning of fall colors. The Balsams Resort is visible behind Lake Gloriette.
Middle Brother view of Table Rock and Lake Gloriette.

Table Rock Trail 4★
1.7 to 2.2 mi, Out-and-Back, Medium, Gain 960 to 1,000 ft
Trailspotting Map: AllTrails, GPX File

The shortest route to the celebrated Table Rock is possible on this trail. Starting out at a roadside trailhead that has ample parking for a dozen vehicles, this wide winding trail through mostly pine forest rises steadily to its destination. You'll find a small stream and occasional shafts of sunlight along this trail, but little else worthy of remark. The spur trail to Table Rock is very well signposted and easy to navigate as it descends out onto this rocky outcrop.

Not only is Table Rock a 700 foot drop to the notch below, but in places it's so narrow that it's barely wide enough for two people to pass. Decide for yourself how far to the edge you can safely manouver. People have died falling from here so please don't become one of them.

A round trip from trailhead to Table Rock is 1.7 miles but if you're prepared to journey a little further then you can get to Middle Brother and back for a further half-mile of mostly flat trail. This further view offers more great views, including dramatic views of the Table Rock upon which you were just standing. Also we were thankful that trees were growing all the way to the edge of this outcrop, so we could continue to the end always with something to hold on to. Ignore the '15 minutes to Middle Brother' sign by the way, it's at most a five minute walk.

The Balsams Resort reflected off Lake Gloriette
The Balsams Resort reflected off Lake Gloriette.

Three Brothers Trail 5★
3.3 mi, Out-and-Back, Medium, Gain 1,300 ft
Trailspotting Map: AllTrails, GPX File

For us the longer Three Brothers Trail to the two Notch vantage points is a better choice of route than Table Rock trail, so long as you don't mind some additional mileage. The incline of the trail is gradual and includes a couple of great waterfall views of Huntington Falls and its large rocky gorge along the way. There are some marshy spots that you'll have to sidestep at around the half-way point but otherwise the going should be fairly easy. We also prefer this trail when there are still leaves on the trees, as the sun shining through the deciduous forest casts a green glow around you.

Left: Sangunary Ridge Trail sign in the woods. Right: Logging truck descending down a curving road at Dixville Notch
Great Notch viewpoints progressing up the Sanguinary Ridge Trail.

Another angle of Table Rock and Middle Brother at Dixville Notch.
Dixville Notch's large rocky spires from Sanguinary Ridge.

• Trail Links: Official
• Public Maps at AllTrails: Table Rock Trail, Three Brothers Trail, Sanguinary Ledge Trail
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