Logan ‘Stache’ Whinny
The Welch-Dickey trail is a popular 4.4-mile hike near Thorton, New Hampshire. 1,778ft in elevation gain and a short 20-minute drive from Plymouth State campus make this an entertaining trip you don’t want to miss out on. AllTrails classifies this loop as “hard” and states that it takes the average app user 3 hours and 1 minute to complete it. After having conquered Welch-Dickey many times, I can understand why, but not for the reason one would think.
Sure, this trail isn’t a walk in the park, but I wouldn’t classify it as particularly difficult for an avid hiker, nor would I say that it would take over three hours to complete. For even a lightly seasoned hiker, the most time-consuming aspect of this woodsy adventure is the viewpoints. When walking straight through without extended pauses at the vista stops, I can reach the end of the path somewhere in the sub-2-hour mark. For your first experience, I would recommend giving yourself some extra time to take in the views.
We arrived at the trailhead at ten past five in a sizable parking lot fitted with free bathrooms, picnic tables, and a reasonable $5 per vehicle fee based on the honors system. Although the lot is large, I have never encountered many people on the trail at any time today; usually only passing a handful. The trek began with a steady and rocky incline accompanied by a small brook and many types of trees and moss welcoming us into their space of serenity. This wooded patch continued on for about 1.2 miles before we reached the first of many long stretches of flat rock. The first viewpoint was just beyond the 1.3-mile mark at 821ft of elevation gain, and what a view it was.
The colors of the turning foliage looked as if lava was gracefully and peacefully flowing down the valley below in all shades of yellow, orange, and red. This visual combined with the smell of pine and the complete silence which was only interrupted by the occasional rustling of trees or the quiet jingle of my dog Echo’s tag made for a surreal hiking experience.
A steep half mile of squeezing, scaling, and jumping led us to the peak of the Welch just in time for the sun to begin setting behind another breathtaking view at 2,605ft elevation (1,494ft gained). A short descent in scree led to the next ascent towards the peak of Dickey. 2.3 miles marked the peak of Dickey at 1,778ft elevation gained and presented the last jaw-dropping view for this visit. Continuing on revealed a swift walk down the side of an exposed ledge that was casting a shadow over the valley, putting it to sleep.
Descending as the forest and mountains were settling down for a quiet night’s rest brought the trek to a conclusion. 4.4 miles completed and a time of one hour 58 minutes left me feeling refreshed and Echo tired. We were ready to get some sleep ourselves.
Welch-Dickey will always be one of my favorite hikes and I encourage all readers to give it a chance as I’m sure that you will fall in love with it too.