Peak Bag the 52 With A View
How you should interpret this list
If you searched the word “peakbag”, then you’re probably already familiar with hiking. In fact, you may have already finished or started your NH 48 4,000 footers – cool. The below hikes are compiled so that you can bag as many as possible without having to make multiple trips; driving time between mountains is listed as well. This list is not a trail guide even though there are links to trails. Each section is somewhat organized from easiest to hardest combinations. Be safe, carry the 10 essentials, and let people know where you’re going before you set off on an adventure. Don't forget to bring cash for parking fees at certain trailheads.
Mountains that require driving in-between
(3.4 miles, 1,450 ft elevation gain)
(2.5 miles, 900 ft elevation gain)
Driving time between mountains: 27 minutes
Keep in mind that for Middle Sugarloaf will require an extra 1.4 miles with a road walk plus dirt or snow-covered road when Zealand Rd is closed. You’ll park here.
(4.3 miles, 1,715 ft elevation gain)
(3.5 miles, 760 ft elevation gain)
Driving time between mountains: 7 minutes
Note that the parking for Imp Face is Imp Trailhead (North), not (South). In winter, Dolly Copp road is closed, so you’d have to do this winter version of Pine Mountain which is listed at 4.75 miles and 1,600 ft elevation gain and starts here.
A view from Pine Mountain posted by Ridj-it user Amy.
(5 miles, 1,500 ft elevation gain)
(4 miles, 1,700 ft elevation gain)
Driving time between mountains: 17 minutes
(3.5 miles, 1,350 ft elevation gain)
(4.5 miles, 1,600 ft elevation gain)
Driving time between Stinson and Cube: 37 minutes
(3.4 miles, 1,100 ft elevation gain)
(3.8 miles, 1,600 ft elevation gain)
Important notes about driving and parking:
Do NOT take Flat Iron Road – it is a death trap for your car or SUV.
Do NOT park at Black Mountain Trailhead (opposite of Chippewa, the one listed here) since property owners have been blocked in; status of whether it’s okay to park there is basically dubious at this point
(5.3 miles, 2,500 ft elevation gain)
Driving time: 10 minutes
In summer you can park at the trailhead (which doesn’t fit a lot of cars), but in winter you’ll need to park here for an easy road walk that adds 4 miles round-trip.
Ridj-it user Cindy looks out from a great view on Mt. Tremont during a group hike.
(3.2 miles, 1,250 ft elevation gain)
(8.5 miles, 2,350 ft elevation gain)
Driving time between mountains: 36 minutes
(3.7 miles, 1,750 ft elevation gain)
(2.5 miles, 1,050 ft elevation gain)
Driving time between mountains: 1 hour 26 minutes
(5 miles, 2,000 ft elevation gain)
(6 miles, 2,100 ft elevation gain)
Driving time between mountains: 39 minutes
Avoid traveling on Hogan Road beyond parking your car at the Centennial/Appalachian Trail. You will get absolutely rocked by potholes and dips.
(5 miles, 2,120 ft elevation gain)
(4.7 miles, 2,120 ft elevation gain; add 1 mile if road walking to do loop)
Driving time between mountains: 19 minutes
(5.9 miles, 2,600 ft elevation gain)
(3.9 miles, 1,700 ft elevation gain)
Driving time between mountains: 15 minutes
Note for Doubleheads that you’ll park off of Dundee Road, north of where the trailhead starts, and then walk 0.3 miles to start the loop and ultimately end up back at your car when you finish.
(11.6 miles, 4,000 ft elevation gain) – Carspot needed
You can bag all of these mountains without having to drive anywhere between. The driving comes via a car spot, as you would need to walk 7 miles to get back to Davis Path Trailhead parking after you finish Parker, so make sure to leave a car at the end or get a trail taxi to take you.
Driving time between car spot locations: 10 minutes
If you absolutely cannot find a carspot or taxi, you can always take out Parker and just do Crawford, Stairs, and Resolution.
No driving between mountains needed
You can bag these 52 WAVs without having to drive between mountains. Some of them make for long days, but beautiful days nonetheless.
(3.4 miles, 1,500 ft elevation gain)
(3.2 miles, 1,080 ft elevation gain)
Keep in mind that if you’re a NH 4K peakbagger that you’ll be able to pass Avalon on the way down from Mt. Field.
Ridj-it Co-founder Rik enjoys a sunny day on top of snow-capped Mt. Willard during a Ridj-it adventure.
(4 miles, 1,750 ft elevation gain)
(8 miles, 2,750 ft elevation gain)
This is a good winter hike. Renting snowshoes is easy to do as well since the Waterville Valley Adventure Center is close by.
Middle Sister & Chocorua
Why two options? Well, Champney Falls fills up fast, so if it’s a beautiful summer or fall day and you don’t want to get to the trailhead early, just skip Champney and go via Piper. Both routes are amazing and beautiful. Note that the trail option provided in the Piper link is pretty steep and is in fact on the Terrifying 25 list as you’ll be on the Carter Ledge Trail. I would skip all trails from Piper during the winter due to steep icy sections and save that route for summer/fall.
(4 miles, 1,500 ft elevation gain)
(4.4 miles, 1,500 ft elevation gain)
(12 miles, 2,500 ft elevation gain)
Don’t let the mileage fool you: connecting these two together is a great combination since the elevation gain is very gradual. This is a good winter hike as well if you want to complete more difficult ones during the summer and fall.
(10.5 miles, 3,900 ft elevation gain)
Personally enjoyed this as a November winter hike with ice and snow.
(11.6 miles, 3,900 ft elevation gain)
Kicking myself for not having done Eastman and Eagle Crag on this hike. The Baldfaces are gorgeous, equal to Franconia Ridge, but the drive up there from Boston is brutal.
(5.8 miles, 2,30 ft elevation gain)
Loners – kind of
The mountains below aren’t great for connecting to other 52 WAVs because either their mileage and gain are substantial by themselves, they’re located very far from city centers in New England, or you could connect them to hikes on the 48 4,000 footers that will make for big days anyways.
(1.7 miles, 810 ft elevation gain)
This one is easy, but it’s a pain in the butt to get to. Get ready for a drive, because this bad boy is way out there. In fact, plan a weekend trip to Canada if you have to do this one. Also, look how tiny this hike is in terms of distance and elevation gain.
(7.7 miles, 1,850 ft elevation gain)
This is a fairly easy and delightful hike, and though you could combine it with Horn, it would be 16.2 miles and 4,316 feet of elevation gain: a long day, but not impossible. However, if you’ve already done Horn while hiking the Cabot loop, then this would be a bit much. Additionally, on a map you might see a viewpoint for the Devil’s Hopyard while doing Roger’s Ledge; the trail is slippery with jagged rocks and not worth it unless you’re doing your Terrifying 25 list. Instead, take your time and go for a dip in South Pond on your way back from Roger’s Ledge. There is a nominal fee of $7 to park at the trailhead.
(5.6 miles, 2,400 ft elevation gain)
Park here or at the Highland Center.
This mountain can be joined with Mt. Jackson, another NH 4K, as a loop.
A view from Webster Cliffs on a trip Ridj-it user Kenia did with a group that also hiked Pierce and Jackson.
(6.4 miles, 2,650 ft elevation gain)
This mountain is on the way to Mt. Waumbek, one of the NH 48 4,000 footers.
(7.5 miles, 2,750 feet elevation gain)
This one is a bit of a doozy by itself because of the 1,500 feet of elevation gain from mile 2 to mile 3. Watch out for bears – I ran into them at a very inopportune moment.
(10.5 miles, 3,250 ft elevation gain)
This mountain is usually combined with Mt. Cabot as a loop.
(13 miles; 3,900 ft elevation gain)
This mountain can be joined with Mt. Moriah, another NH 4K, as an out and back.
The background behind this list
The big motivation behind this list was the amount of driving from Boston needed to bag all of these beautiful views. I was fortunate that many of the hikes had Ridj-it folks to join, but several of them I did by myself during various times throughout the pandemic. I could have easily combined several of these peaks together and freed up multiple days doing so.
Again – efficiency for efficiency’s sake ain’t the name of the game: efficiency in the name of getting more out of your day while also saving gas, however, is an A+ move.
This list was also compiled based on seeing hundreds of other people organizing 52 WAV hikes on Ridj-it and through my own experience as an avid hiker. The philosophy behind the journey is to just enjoy the view, and after having completed the NH 48 4,000 footers, many folks can hike multiple 52 WAVs in one day.
However, no worries if you’re just starting your journey. I haven’t been on a single mountain in the 52 WAV where I said, “Meh”, whereas with the 48 there are several that I never plan on returning to unless I want another list challenge. In that sense, starting the 52 WAV as your first list is a great move.
52 is a big number, so if you need a place to list which mountains you’ve done, check out Hikr, a convenient peakbagging journal that lets you select each mountain from predefined lists like the 52 WAV, NH 48, Belknaps, and more, and then easily have that info transferred to the official hiking lists for easy printing.
And if you ever want to hike with others, spark an adventure on Ridj-it to enjoy the company of fellow mountain enthusiasts.
- Ari, Co-founder