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Mount Kearsarge, Wilmot NH


• 5-star hike
• 1.0 to 8.7 mile options
• Easy/Medium difficulty | Gain 300 to 2,119 feet
• Sunapee Region | Wilmot NH
• Driving directions: Winslow, Rollins, Lincoln


Mt Kearsarge's exposed rocky summit, over 2,000 feet proud of the surrounding landscape

Don't ask us why, but New Hampshire is home to two mountains named Kearsarge separated by a distance of sixty miles. This is the more Southerly of the two and commonly known as Mount Kearsarge, whereas the other is located in the White Mountains and known as Kearsarge North but still sometimes also refered to as Mount Kearsarge to keep you on your toes.

Atop the summit sits a fire tower that was erected in 1913 but has piled on the pounds in recent years since becoming adorned by an increasing amount of communications equipment. The state has a Fire Tower Quest Patch and program available; and this fire tower is one of 15 included on its list. See the Trailspotting Fire Tower List for a map of all standing New Hampshire fire towers and links to fire towers that we've visited.

Bring your best hiking boots to this trail as traction is important and remember to pack a few layers for the exposed summit. The views may be impressive, but so is the wind-chill. The easiest route to the summit is to drive up to Rollins State Park on the South side of the mountain and take the half-mile Rollins Trail to the summit. From the same location you can also include the more rocky Lincoln Trail to make a loop trail with no additional distance. Other more difficult and longer routes are available and we detail all these below.

Sidebar, Fullscreen Map.

Winslow Trail
Winslow & Barlow Trails
Lincoln & Rollins Trails
Full Lincoln Trail

Trail Descriptions:

Winslow Trail | 4★, 2.1 miles, Out & Back, Medium, Gain 1,079ft | The quickest way up and down the mountain from Winslow State Park. Read more in the Winslow & Barlow Loop description below.

Winslow & Barlow Trails | 4★, 2.6 miles, Loop, Medium, Gain 1,089ft | By the numbers the Winslow-Barlow route up the north-face of Kearsarge appears to be a quick and easy jaunt up the mountain, but looks can be deceiving. A counterclockwise course beginning with the Winslow Trail is the easiest approach, but budget plenty of time to tackle all the rocky steps along your route and have patience on the wet and sometimes slippery stone surfaces. Coming down Barlow is a longer trek, but less steep. Also the Barlow trail features several secluded outlook points which are great ways to enjoy the views if the weather on top of the mountain is too much.

Some suggest this as a good family hike, but smaller children might struggle with the big rocky steps as you progress a thousand feet to the summit. We rank this hike as medium difficulty but in some conditions it could be considered hard, mainly depending on your expectations. The Winslow & Barlow Loop begins and ends at Winslow State Park which has a large parking lot that can fill up quickly on busier days.


Views from the rocky last half mile on the Lincoln Trail.

Lincoln & Rollins Trails | 5★, 1.0 miles, Loop, Easy/Medium, Gain 338ft | If the rocky terrain of the Winslow Trail seems a bit much and you still want to enjoy the spectacular views from the top of Mount Kearsarge, then this trail is likely for you. Most tackle this loop clockwise beginning on the Lincoln Trail which features some great Westerly views. However, at the beginning of this route there is a significant rockfall section to scramble over. Kids may love it, but if it seems a little much for you, then you'll find an out-and-back route up Rollins Trail to be much easier.

Be aware that the trailhead and large parking lot is located in Rollins State Park which is closed during winter and early spring. When closed you can park your car by the park entrance and walk up the road, but if you're thinking about doing that you'd be better served on the long Lincoln Trail from the bottom of the mountain.

Full Lincoln Trail | 5★, 8.7 miles, Out & Back, Medium, Gain 2,120ft | This quiet, longer trail begins at the base of the mountain at the end of a short dirt road with plenty of parking. After following a forest road for a mile, the trail turns left and heads deep into the woods where all you can hear are the sounds of distant creeks and the rapping of a woodpecker. Elevation gain is moderate on this longer trail and the ground underfoot is mostly soft, with fewer rocks and roots than the other trails. We have no idea why AllTrails rates this route as hard, except as a reflection of the trail's length. This is by far our favorite way up Mount Kearsarge if you're willing to put in the miles.


The more picturesque of the creeks on the full Lincoln Trail.


More panoramic views from the summit.

Tangents:
• Trail Links: Rollins State Park, Winslow State Park
• AllTrails Public: Winslow O&B, Winslow-Barlow, Lincoln-Rollins, Longer Lincoln
• Facebook Group: Comment on this article

NH Fire Towers
See Trailspotting's Fire Tower Map for list of towers, locations and links to best nearby trails.

NH State Parks
Support your New Hampshire State Parks, a self-funded organization managing trails like these without NH tax dollars.
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