Via the North Twin Trail 8.6 miles summit and back
North Twin Mountain located in Bethlehem, New Hampshire is the 12th highest of the New Hampshire four thousand footers with a total elevation of 4,761 feet. Its summit can be reached by a number of interesting routes from the Pemigewasset Wilderness (if you are looking for a multiple day hike). However, the most direct way to reach the summit as a day hike is from the North Twin Trail, located of Haystack Rd. (FR 304) off NH 3. There is a sign for hiking trails on NH 3 to indicate where the road begins, and it is just west of the White Mountain National Forest boundary sign. There are no facilities or fees collected at the trailhead. Camping is permitted in 12 primitive sights along the road. If you want to plan a multiple day adventure get there early, people are allowed to stay in the National Forest for up to two weeks at a time.
North Twin Trail follows the Little River at an easy to moderate grade for the first 1.9 miles. Along the way there are three river crossings. The first two at miles .8 and 1.3, respectively can be avoided by remaining on the left bank of the river. There is a “bushwhack” trail that is easy to follow due to frequent use, stay on that until you meet up with the sanctioned trail. At mile 1.9 there is the final crossing of the Little River, this one is much shallower and easy to negotiate than the first two. These streams and rivers are part of a municipal watershed so be aware of this and do not pollute the water.
After crossing the trail ascends more steeply, and a long steady climb uphill begins. There are small stream crossings as you gain the ridge but none are as difficult as the Little River. At mile 3.5 the trail becomes steep and strenuous but only for a short period of time. This work is rewarded with some views at mile 4 where the ridge ends on a ledgy area and the grade is very easy for another .3 miles to the summit. Hidden in the trees and marked with a rock cairn, the summit of North Twin is unimpressive. A spectacular view can be found 60 yards down a side path to the western edge of the summit area.
From the outlook there is a fine panorama of the entire Franconia Range, as well as most of the western Pemigewasset, including Owl’s Head, Galehead, its hut and Garfield. There are some scrub spruce stands blocking the eastern view but it is a fine spot for a break before heading down the way you came. Descent was fairly quick and easy, despite a bit of loose footing in the upper parts of the trail.
Over all North Twin Trail was an enjoyable day and very easy for the dogs. Since the trail begins at an easy grade it allows some warm up time before you gain a lot of elevation. The Little River is very pretty to look at and does provide a continuous water source for dogs for the majority of the trail, including its tributaries higher up. The footing was good even in the strenuous places and the grade was overall very moderate. Making North Twin an easy and fast, four thousand footer to climb. The AMC’s White Mountain Guide 28th edition quotes a 3 hour and 40 minute climb time from the parking area to the summit, it took us 2 hours and 15 minutes to ascend and 2 hours to descend.
Distances from trailhead parking on FR 304:
Little River Third Crossing: 1.9 miles
Summit of North Twin: 4.3 miles