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3-Minute Read: Dayhiking the 32-Mile Pemi Loop in the White Mountains

Posted On September 1, 2016 at 4:11 am by / Comments Off on 3-Minute Read: Dayhiking the 32-Mile Pemi Loop in the White Mountains

By Michael Lanza

Our long day of hiking began at 6 a.m., shortly after first light, under a gray overcast that would rain intermittent light showers on us over the next several hours and, at times, envelop us in pea-soup fog. When our day ended 15 hours and 59 minutes later (we officially called it “sub-16 hours”), two friends and I had proven to ourselves (no one else would care) that, in our 50s, we could still tick off the 32-mile, 10,000-vertical-foot, nine-summit Pemi Loop in New Hampshire’s White Mountains in one long, brutally grueling day.

But pointless feats of endurance aside, we also enjoyed one of the prettiest hikes east of the Rockies—and the clouds lifted in the final hours to grant us breathtaking views as we traversed one of the most remote and spectacular ridges in the Northeast, Bondcliff (lead photo, above).

David Ports hikes through the fog on New Hampshire's Franconia Ridge.

David Ports hikes through the fog on New Hampshire’s Franconia Ridge.

Among the hardest (and most glorious) one-day hikes I’ve ever done, few compare with the Pemi Loop in New Hampshire’s rugged Whites. Starting from Lincoln Woods Trailhead on the Kancamagus Highway (NH 112), the 32-mile loop follows a series of ridgelines around the Pemigewasset Wilderness in the very heart of the Whites, tagging nine summits en route (with the possibility of more via side trips). The list includes the popular Franconia Ridge, its highest point, 5,260-foot Mount Lafayette, and more remote peaks like Garfield, Bond, and Bondcliff. It’s as beautiful as it is punishing.

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I’ll post a story about that hike, with more photos and tips on pulling it off in one day or as many days as you like, later at The Big Outside.

Meanwhile, see all of my stories about the White Mountains, including my stories about 20-mile dayhikes of the Presidential Range and Wildcat Mountain and Carter-Moriah Rangea 17-mile dayhike in the Presidential Range with three teenage boys (my son among them), “Still Crazy After All These Years: Hiking in the White Mountains,” and“Ask Me: What Are Your Favorite New England Hikes?”

Get the right gear for your next hike. See my reviews of daypacks and hiking gear and a categorized menu of all of my reviews at my Gear Reviews page at The Big Outside.

See also my stories:

Cranking Out Big Days: How to Ramp Up Your Hikes and Trail Runs
Training For a Big Hike or Mountain Climb
10 Tips For Making Hiking and Backpacking Easier


Mark Fenton exults in the view hiking toward Bondcliff in the White Mountains.

Mark Fenton exults in the view hiking toward Bondcliff in the White Mountains.


Do you like The Big Outside? I’m Michael Lanza, the creator of The Big Outside, recognized as a top outdoors blog by a USA Today Readers Choice poll and others. Subscribe for updates about new stories and free gear giveaways by entering your email address in the box at the bottom of this story or in the left sidebar, and follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter.

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