{hiking: welch-dickey loop}

Here’s another throwback that I’m digging up from the deep, dark crevasses of my brain. I did Welch-Dickey back in September 2018. I wanted a short, easy solo hike.

Welch-Dickey Loop is approximately four miles, and elevation is 1,751 feet. AllTrails actually categorizes this hike as difficult. However, after reading other people’s reviews of the trail, I figured I’d probably be fine. I wouldn’t consider myself an experienced hiker, however I am a cautious and prepared hiker, so I trusted myself to survive the hike.

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When I pulled into the parking lot, I was able to find a space right next to the trailhead. I don’t recall how early I arrived, but the lot wasn’t full. I’d say it was probably sometime between 8:30-9:30am. Trail docents for the White Mountain National Forest were present to talk about the trail.

When parking at the trailhead, there is a fee. I can’t recall if it was $3 or $5, but it is cash-only and it’s self-service. If the trail docents are present, they do NOT have a cash box, and thus cannot provide change. So… come prepared with ones, or come prepared to leave a little extra money if you don’t have exact change.

One thing I noted when preparing for this hike was that it’s generally easier (and safer) to do the loop counterclockwise. This is because there are slabs of rock that don’t provide much in the way of traction, so it’s easier to go up than down them.

I wore my Merrell Moab hiking shoes. I generally don’t love to wear my heavier shoes because I feel like I can’t feel the ground under my feet, but I figured the rugged lug on the outsole would be a good match for slabs of rock. I also brought my Black Diamond trekking poles, but I don’t like hiking with stuff in my hands, so I strapped them to my day pack.

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The trail is marked with yellow blazes. They’re on trees and rocks, and are generally paint (as opposed to plastic nailed to a tree).

Initially, the trail was much like what you’d expect in NH – giant rocks, lots of roots. In some cases, trail angels had built stairs using rocks sourced from the area. The trail is wide enough for two people to pass each other, but maybe not to hike next to each other comfortably (unless you REALLY like each other).

Eventually it did turn into slabs of rock, and basically remained that way the entire way to the top of Welch Mountain.

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Not too far into the trail, you arrive at a false summit of sorts. It was really pretty looking across the pathways that were marked by logs up there. And the ledge provided for a really nice vista. For families that don’t want to do a long hike, stopping here and then heading back down would feel worthwhile and like a nice accomplishment.

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Eventually you scramble a little bit to get to the top of Welch. As I was heading up, I noticed a couple coming down the opposite direction. I had a brief conversation with the woman because she had a t-shirt tied around her knee – I ended up lending her my trekking poles because I was concerned that she would have a hard time getting down the slabs that I had just come up. It took some convincing, but she did end up taking them and promised to leave them by my car if she finished before me.

After you scramble up some rocks, you scramble down some other rocks (it won’t lie, it was a tight fit with all of the other hikers, and it made me a little nervous) to get over to the summit of Dickey. Looking back across at Welch was really interesting simply because you could actually see the trail that you came across on.

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I spent probably an hour goofing off up there just enjoying the sunshine while I dug into a bag of chili cheese Fritos (those are my preferred hiking snack – I highly recommend!). Eventually I took off and proceeded to goof off taking selfies… for slaves to Instagram, there are plenty of rocks to safely prop your phone on.

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Shortly after beginning my descent, I heard a dog coming towards me. A giant, gangly black lab emerged on the trail and walked towards me, and then right past me. His human showed up shortly thereafter. I ended up striking up a conversation with her, and followed her down the mountain. She moved SO fast, there were zero opportunities for photos. It was fun chatting with her, though. As it turns out, she hikes that loop 4-5 times per week… I really enjoyed hearing about her lifestyle. She lives to be outdoors, and has figured out how/where to work so that she can do that.

This is one of the things I love about hiking – I meet some of the most interesting people.

Once I got back to my car I just hung out and cooled off in the shade for a bit. Not too long after, the couple who borrowed my trekking poles came off the trail. And that was that!

I wouldn’t consider this trail difficult, although it really depends on your fitness level, preparedness, and comfort with being outdoors.

I would like to try this trail in winter. I imagine the views would be amazing. Although, I’m slightly intimidated by the slabs, I do think with the right gear (microspikes, at the very least) that I could successfully do this loop in winter.

PROS

  • Loop trail, so no getting lost
  • Great views
  • Plenty of parking

CONS

  • Exact change needed for self-service parking
  • Trail can get a little difficult in places

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