Via the Mount Kearsarge North Trail 6.2 mile round trip
Mount Kearsarge is located east of NH 16 right near the state highway rest area in Intervale, New Hampshire just north of North Conway. There is a small parking area on Hurricane Mountain Road for the trailhead, about 1.5 miles from the junction with NH 16. It is located in a residential area, so be aware of oncoming traffic while parking. There are no facilities at the trailhead and no fee collected. This is a popular trail, very easily accessible to locals and visitors alike. It is named on the New Hampshire 52 with a view for its impressive 360 degree views of much of the Presidential Range as well as Chocoura and the ledges of Moat Mountain. There is also a remaining, maintained, fire lookout tower on the summit, where the great views are enhanced even further.
The trail is relatively easy considering the expansive views accessed on a smaller White Mountain peak, but inexperienced hikers should be aware that the total elevation gain is 2,600 feet. This is comparable to the ascent for many of the higher peaks in the region. For the first 1.1 miles the trail is fairly easy, following an old logging road at moderate to easy grades. From here it climbs more steadily up, and becomes rougher. Reaching the ledges the views over the town of North Conway begin to open up and you can see Cathedral and White Horse Ledges on Moat Mountain, both popular climbing areas. Mt. Chocoura is visible in the distance. There are an abundance of wild blueberry plants all over the ledges, it is a nice place to take a break and have a snack if the berries are in season.
The trail climbs up steadily over the ledges and becomes rockier as the summit is approached. There are both cairns and yellow blazes on the rocks to identify the trail from the surrounding rocks and shrubs. You can see the summit tower in the distance as the trail rounds to the left, finish hiking and climb the tower. The land for the fire tower was originally gifted to the US Forest Service in 1909, by the AMC who had an inn on the summit that was destroyed twice. The fire tower was erected in 1913, rebuilt in the 1950s and was added to the national register of historic places in 1991. It is immaculately clean inside and very well maintained. Inside you will find a logbook for visitors to sign as well as views that can extend to the Atlantic Ocean.
This mountain is a popular hike; keep in mind if bringing your dog that you will likely encounter other hikers and possible dogs. The first .3 miles of this trail is in a residential area so be aware that some houses are quite close to the trail and keep your dog leashed for this portion of the hike. There were no geologic formations, ledges or river crossings that would concern anyone with a dog. The only mentionable problem I noticed was a lack of available water on most of the trail. There were a few basins in the granite at the summit, but it had rained the day before we hiked so it may have been rainfall and not counted as a reliable source of water. There were a few vernal pools in the beginning of the trail but these looked like sedentary water and not clean running streams. Pack accordingly and bring extra water for your dog. Please also respect the fire tower and the people who care for it by not brining your dog up the stairs into the structure. The stairs are made of grated steel, are see-through, and steep. While there are no prohibitive signs saying not to bring a dog up there, keep in mind this has been here for a long time and we would not want to risk the closure of the fire tower by treating it improperly. It is also worth noting that there is a toilet facility on the summit to the north, marked by signs and offers a view towards Mt. Washington and the Presidential Range. Mt. Kearsarge is an easy half-day hike that should take a reasonably fit person no more than 3 hours to summit (not including summit enjoyment) and about half the time to descend.