Updated: Oct 3, 2021
A trailhead just outside of North Conway and the nicest fire tower I've ever laid eyes on.
I like to challenge myself to a good fire tower climb. Mostly because I'm afraid of heights and think it's important to occasionally face this fear head on. Old fire towers, often found on mountain summits, are a great opportunity to do this.
Sometimes the tower is just too rickety for me to risk climbing. Sometimes, a good friend has to distract me up the ladder by making me laugh so hard I forget what I'm doing (thank you Becca). Sometimes, I climb to show my kids that their mom still has fears and that working through our fears is a lifelong endeavor. And that we are better for it.
If you share my fear of heights, you'll be happy to learn that the fire tower at the top of Mount Kearsarge North is an easy one. It stands solid, with new wood stairs and platform, in addition to an enclosed section in the center. It may not challenge your fears, but it will offer you stunning 360 degree views.
The enclosed room would also be perfect for a sleepover. Imagine waking up with sunrise views of this?? You can bet I'll be returning with my sleeping bag and french press. I'll let you know how it goes.
This hike is 6.4 miles out and back, rated as difficult. I don't know if I would describe this trail as difficult, but I was carried by good conversation the whole way, so I think that gave me a leg up. If I'd been hiking alone and moving far too fast, as I tend to do on solo hikes, I likely would have agreed with the difficult rating. The other factor is that we have easy days and hard days with hiking. Sometimes this has nothing to do with the actual climb and more to do with things like rest and hydration. Still, I'll be curious to know how you'll rate this hike.
At any rate, pun intended, I loved this hike. The trail was well maintained with beautiful woods the entire way up. There were some roots and rocks to climb over near the summit, but it's all manageable if you take it slow.
Dogs are allowed on this hike and our pups were off leash almost the entire time. Every hiker we came across was dog-friendly, which is always a relief. Here's my friend's dog Thor, carrying a giant birch branch. Mighty little guy. He's less than a year and conquered the climb, while playing with Romy the entire way up.
My last suggestion is to stop at Frontside Coffee Roasters on the main strip in North Conway (White Mountain Highway). They have great coffee and it's the perfect treat before or after a hike.
We left Portland around 6:30am and were back home by 2:30pm. An easily doable day hike. The drive was 1.5 hours one way and we stopped a couple of times, so I guess this means the hike took under 5 hours round trip. I tend to lose track of time when hiking with friends, so often have to make my calculations after the fact. Enjoy it at your pace and pack your pj's if you're up for a longer adventure. I'll bet the inn at the summit will have vacancies.