In the quest to hike the 48 4,000-footers of New Hampshire, Mt. Tecumseh is generally considered one of the easiest on the list. Standing at 4,003 ft., Tecumseh basically had to stand on it’s tippy toes to even be considered one of the big boys. Since I had a couple of rookies with me (no offense), it seemed like a good opportunity to check off an easier peak. People tend to thumb their nose at Tecumseh, so expectations weren’t high, but I was pleasantly surprised with both the trail and the views.
The Tecumseh Trail (Map)
You have the option to begin the hike either from Tripoli Road or from Waterville Valley; however, Tripoli Road is not accessible during the winter months. Starting a hike from the parking lot of a ski resort isn’t exactly ideal, but admittedly it was nice having a place to get lunch and sit by a fireplace after the hike. Parking here is free and the trailhead is adjacent to parking lot number 1 (if you’re looking at the state flags it’s right next to Wyoming). The hike is 5 miles round trip.
The first section of the trail runs alongside a stream, but before long you have to cross to the other side. This is probably a cake walk in the summer, but the rocks that you’re supposed to use as stepping stones were enveloped in a very snowy, very fragile land-bridge. This left us with an Oregon Trail-esque set of choices, except in this case there was no ferry and we couldn’t caulk the wagon to float it across. The skiers in front of us bypassed the first land-bridge and moved on to another one that they thought looked sturdier. The first guy took off his skis and walked gingerly to the other side without any issues. I had no such luck. Just as I thought I was in the clear, the mass of snow collapsed beneath my boots, and if it weren’t for an expert dive to safety, I surely would have been swept away…either that or my boots would have just gotten a little wet (my boots are waterproof so it wouldn’t have been an issue).
The other hazard on this supposedly-easy hike was the fact that the trail was covered in over three feet of snow. The trail was well packed and was easily passable with microspikes; however, if you stepped even a few inches off the trail, you would posthole up to your knees. It wasn’t much of a problem, but every now and then it would look like someone got hit by a sniper and collapsed in a heap. More entertaining than anything else.
Although the summit is mostly covered in trees, there are still unobstructed views of Osceola and East Osceola as well as several other nearby peaks. Most websites I’ve seen categorize the views from the summit as “poor” or “limited”, but the view was much better than expected. Obviously it doesn’t compare with what you’ll get from some of the taller summits in the Whites, but since the hike was only 5 miles round trip, it wasn’t the least bit disappointing.
Looking for another good winter hike in the White Mountains? Check out Mt. Tom.