Kyle is the writer behind The Travel Runner. He’s a full-time traveler and adventurer who’s visited over 20 countries, including places like Thailand, Mexico, Vietnam, and Albania. He prefers a slower pace to his travels to explore destinations more in-depth and to get a feel for what life is actually like there. When he’s not writing, he’s usually off exploring trails with his fiancée, Kaitlyn.
Calling all hiking lovers! Explore the Mount Willard hike in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. Reach the summit of Mt. Willard and enjoy the gorgeous views.
The Mount Willard hike is one of the best in White Mountain National Forest.
Why Mount Willard, you ask? Well, it’s simple. The trail is moderately challenging — just enough to get your adrenaline pumping but not enough to leave you winded. And the panoramic view from the top of Mt. Willard is breathtakingly beautiful, especially at sunrise and sunset.
In this post, I’ll give you everything you need to know about hiking to the summit of Mount Willard and how to enjoy the beautiful view properly.
So, if you’re ready to do the Mount Willard hike, let’s get into it!
Mt Willard trail map
How to get to the trailhead for the Mount Willard hike
Let’s start from North Conway, a popular base for many hikers.
First, you’ll want to head west on US-302 or White Mountain Highway. This scenic drive will take you right into the heart of the White Mountains.
- Head west on US-302/White Mountain Hwy from North Conway.
- Continue on US-302 for about 26 miles. It’s a straight shot, so don’t worry about missing any turns.
- You’ll see signs for Crawford Notch State Park. Keep an eye out for this as you’re getting close.
And before you know it, you’re there!
Where to park to hike Mount Willard hike in Crawford Notch State Park
Parking is available near the Mount Willard trailhead at the Crawford Notch Depot and Saco Lake parking area.
The Depot is just off Route 302, making it an easy find. There are two main parking lots in the area. The first one is directly adjacent to the Crawford Depot. This location is most convenient but fills up quickly, especially during peak hiking season. So, I recommend getting there early to snag a spot!
If that lot is full, don’t worry.
Just a short walk away, you’ll find another parking lot at the AMC Highland Center. This lot tends to have more availability and is only a brief, scenic stroll away from the trailhead.
Once you’ve secured your parking spot, the adventure to Mount Willard begins!
How to hike Mt Willard in the White Mountains
The hike starts at the Crawford Notch Depot and is approximately 3.2 miles round trip.
Before we get started, here are the details of this relatively short hike:
- Distance: 3.1 miles
- Elevation gain: ~900 feet
- Trail type: Out-and-back trail
- Time: ~2 hours
The hiking trail is well-marked, ensuring you won’t lose your way while soaking up the breathtaking natural beauty surrounding us.
The trailhead is located right across the train tracks, and you’ll quickly spot where the trail begins once you’re at the Crawford Notch Depot. From there, you’ll follow the Mount Avalon Trail for a brief 0.1 miles before veering onto the Mount Willard Trail.
The first part of the journey is relatively flat and gentle, meandering through a dense, fragrant forest and past some small waterfalls and the Centennial Pool. There are some easy stream crossings, and the trail is super well-marked.
After approximately 0.7 miles, the trail ascends. You’ll push your legs harder, climbing through the mixed hardwood and evergreen forest. It’s a good workout, and the hike can sometimes become steep.
Take your time, though, and you’ll be fine.
As you climb, you’ll notice a change in the vegetation and hear/see small waterfalls to your right. The trees become smaller and twisted, showing signs of the harsh weather conditions they endure at these altitudes.
Just when your muscles start fighting back, you’ll reach the summit of Mt. Willard.
And what an incredible view it is!
The panoramic view of Crawford Notch from the top of Mount Willard is nothing short of spectacular. It’s the perfect spot to take a break, have a snack, and take memorable photos.
After you’ve had your fill of the stunning vistas, it’s time to trek back down the trail.
It’s all downhill from here, making the return trip quicker and easier.
Just remember to tread carefully to avoid slips and falls. The ground was pretty wet during my visit, making the rocks slippery on the way down.
And there you have it!
That’s how you hike Mt. Willard in the White Mountains.
If you’re in the area, you can’t miss this view. The hike and view at Mount Willard is one of the best.
What to bring on the Mount Willard trail
The right gear can make a difference between a fantastic hike and a not-so-great experience.
So, what should you stuff into that backpack of yours? Let’s dive in:
- Water: Hydration is critical. Pack at least 2 liters per person. Remember, it’s always better to have extra.
- Snacks: You’re gonna need the energy on this day hike. And nothing beats the feeling of enjoying your favorite snack while soaking in the amazing view!
- Hiking shoes: The trail can get quite rocky, so a sturdy pair of hiking shoes is necessary.
- Layers: Pack layers that you can add or remove as needed. Just because it’s warm at lower elevations doesn’t mean it is at the summit.
- Sun protection: Don’t forget your sunglasses, sunscreen, and hat. The sun can be pretty intense, especially during the summer months.
- Camera: How else will you capture the great views at the summit? Your phone camera works, too!
And remember, pack it in, pack it out! Let’s keep the trail clean for everyone to enjoy.
There’s nothing less pleasant than finding someone else’s trash on our beautiful trail.
The best time to do the Mount Willard hike
It may surprise you, but there’s no bad time!
Each season offers its unique charms, but let’s break this down a bit more.
While summer and fall are the best times to visit, thanks to great weather and incredible tree colors, spring and winter offer plenty, too!
Especially if you enjoy winter hiking and the trail conditions are right, the views from the top of Mt Willard are amazing with snow-covered trees. The same applies to spring, where you can get beautiful summit views as the trees bloom.
With that said, if you want the views that’ll make your Instagram followers jealous, head there in the fall.
Other popular hikes nearby
As an outdoor enthusiast, one of the best things about the White Mountains region is that there’s always another trail to explore.
So, if you’ve conquered Mount Willard and are hungry for more, you’re in luck!
Here are some other popular hikes nearby that I think are worth checking out:
- Mount Willey
- Crawford Path – Mount Pierce
- Hike to Mount Tom
- Mount Jackson and Mount Webster trail
- Mount Field
- Hike to Mount Washington
Ready to hike Mount Willard?
The hike up to Mt. Willard is one of my favorites I’ve ever done in New Hampshire (and one of the best hikes in the White Mountains).
And, with the incredible view at the top. I could have sat up there all day staring at it. And I’m sure you’ll be the same.
And the best part? It’s a hike that’s accessible to most fitness levels.
Sure, you’ll feel it in your legs the next day, but the sense of accomplishment — and the photos you’ll have to show for it — are well worth the effort.
So, do the hike and let me know your experience!