Now that the majority of the ice has melted, at least on the more southern 4,000 footers in the White Mountains, we decided to bag two peaks on a sunny Saturday in May. Osceola and East Osceola are two of the easier 4,000 footers at 4,156 and 4,315 feet, respectively. We hiked from the Kancamagus Highway via the Greeley Pond Trail, which is considered the more difficult route to the Mt. Osceola. Round trip, the hike was 7.6 miles, and took a total of 6 hours including a long break at the Osceola Summit.
We were on the trail a little before 8 AM and managed to get the last parking spot in the parking lot at the Greeley Pond trailhead, although people park along the Kancamagus after the lot fills up. There is a $3 fee for day use parking. The first 1.3 miles along the Greeley Pond trail is mostly flat and many hikers continue on to the ponds themselves to make it a casual day hike. After this easy stretch, we turned right on the Mount Osceola Trail which ascends a very steep 1.5 miles to the summit of East Osceola. This is the part of the hike people are talking about when they say it is difficult. There was a lot of scrambling over rocks but thankfully there were consistent views along the way before reaching the tree-covered summit of East Osceola. Doing East Osceola by itself really doesn’t make much sense, because the summit is impossibly lame. We would highly recommend combining the two peaks as a single day hike.
After reaching the East Osceola summit, the trail descends again before making one final push to the summit of Osceola. There were some stretches along this part of the trail that had some residual ice, but everything was avoidable and traction devices were definitely not necessary.
The most difficult/dangerous part of the trail, affectionately known as “the chimney”, came shortly before reaching the second summit. It is more or less a vertical climb up a pile of rocks.
The summit of Mt. Osceola was exactly what we were hoping for, with panoramic views of 41 of the other 4,000 footers in NH. There were several other people at the top, most of which ascended via Tripoli Road (the easy route).