Location: Central New Hampshire
Trip Starts: Kinsmans Notch
Trip Ends: Lafayette Campground
Total Distance: 14.2 miles
Hike Type: One-Way, Shuttle Hike
Hike Difficulty: Difficult
Trails Used: Appalachian Trail
Trail Traffic: Heavy
Trip Type: Day or Overnight Hike
More Information:

Appalachian Trail Conservancy
799 West Washington Street
Harpers Ferry, WV 25425
(304) 535-6331


Kinsman Notch is the beginning of the rugged White Mountains for the northbound distance hiker. For many, the Whites are the highlight of the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire, and the dramatic scenery and long ridge walks attract many day and overnight hikers. As a result, this section has some of the heaviest backcountry trail traffic on the entire Appalachian Trail. Regardless, many hikers list the White Mountains as one of their favorite sections of the Trail.

My route started at Kinsman Notch and deviated from the AT slightly. It takes a blue-blazed side trail to Lafayette Campground (about 2.5 miles from Franconia Notch). During our hike, bad weather in the form of heavy fog, sleet, rain, and 60 mph winds forced us from the ridges and off the white blazes of the Appalachian Trail.

The Kinsman Mountains (including both South Kinsman at 4,358 feet and North Kinsman at 4,293 feet) are part of this high elevation area that is subject to severe weather. Snow is possible in any season, so make sure you are ready for all weather conditions, even in the summer. The Kinsman Mountains have some tough rock scrambles that require hand over hand climbing, but Kinsman Pond campsite is nearby and makes it all worth the effort. The shelter and pond are a great place to overnight or relax for a while.

Lonesome Lake Hut, fourteen miles from Kinsman Pond, is another nice stop. It is the first Hut for the northbound hiker that is maintained by the Appalachian Mountain Club, and the lake has a dock for swimming if the weather permits it. From here, it’s only a short distance to Lafayette Campground which has more facilities including a lodge, tent sites, restrooms, showers, and a small store.

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