Bald Peak (Kinsman)

Destinations:  Bald Peak (Kinsman) (2470'), Kinsman Flume
Trails:  Mount Kinsman Trail, Bald Peak Spur
Region:  NH - Central West  
White Mountain National Forest, Cannon-Kinsman Region
Location:  Easton, NH
Rating:  Moderate  
Features:  Summit, views, gorge, brooks, waterfall
Distance:  4.6 miles  
Elevation Gain:  1500 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Typical: 3:00  
Outing Duration:  Actual: 6:00   Typical: 4:30  
Season:  Spring
Hike Date:  03/28/2009 (Saturday)  
Last Updated:  07/09/2009  
Weather:  About 60 degrees, sunny
Author:  Webmaster
Companion:  Bob M.

Views from the summit of Bald Peak (photo by Webmaster)

Route Summary   

Hiking to Bald Peak offers fantastic views from a roomy summit. A short detour to Kinsman Flume gives you an interesting view of Flume Brook rushing through a gorge. And a bit of off-trail walking brings you to a waterfall.

In the summer of 2009, the first half-mile of Mount Kinsman Trail was relocated. The Driving Directions and this Route Summary refer to the new trailhead and trail but the narrative in the Trail Guide section refers to the old route. The distance is the same for both routes.

  • Start at the new Mount Kinsman Trailhead located off of Route 116 in Easton. All but the last 0.2 mile of the hike up will be via Mount Kinsman Trail.
  • The first 0.5 mile of the trail has been newly relocated and follows a narrow trail uphill, then downhill, and then uphill again, passing through pretty woods with ferns and hemlocks. The path is easy to follow and is occasionaly marked with survey ribbon. Near the end of this section, another narrow trail crosses Mount Kinsman Trail; keep going straight until reaching a signed T-junction with a wide trail.
  • Bald Peak Spur trail (photo by Webmaster)
  • This wide trail is the original route of Mount Kinsman Trail. To the left, blocked off with logs across the trail, is the old route that is no longer in use. Turn right and after just 0.1 mile, you will pass by an old sugar house on the left. The remainder of Mount Kinsman Trail is blazed in blue.
  • Continue on easy grades for 0.5 mile which will bring you to a junction.
  • A woods road will continue straight/left while Mount Kinsman Trail veers right and enters the White Mountain National Forest at a double blue blaze and at a yellow sign marking the WMNF boundary. Bear right to stay on Mount Kinsman Trail, then 30 yards later turn left, still following the blue blazes for Mount Kinsman Trail.
  • Climb for 0.4 mile then cross a brook (the first stream crossing). If you wish to make a trailless detour, turn left and follow the brook upstream for less than 0.1 mile. You will find a pretty waterfall dropping over a bouldery cliff.
  • Continue on Mount Kinsman Trail for another 0.6 mile and cross Flume Brook, which is the third stream crossing since entering the White Mountain National Forest.
  • If you wish to take a detour, turn right on a side path (small sign) immediately after the brook crossing and follow the rough, narrow, spur almost 0.1 mile to where it ends at the very edge of Kinsman flume. Looking down you can view the very narrow flume. It's a fascinating formation and worth the detour yet it's a bit frustrating to try to get a good view without falling in since you are looking at it from above.
  • On the main trail, continue climbing for less than 0.1 mile where you will find a junction. Mount Kinsman Trail curves to the left while Bald Peak Spur turns right. Turn right and follow the spur trail through small ups and downs for 0.2 mile which will bring you to the open Bald Peak.
  • When you are done enjoying the summit, retrace your steps to return to your vehicle. After 0.2 mile on Bald Peak Spur, turn left and head downhill on Mount Kinsman Trail. After 1.0 mile on Mount Kinsman Trail, turn left and continue descending on Mount Kinsman Trail another 0.6 mile, then at the point where logs block the wide trail, turn left at the sign for the final 0.5 mile hike to the parking lot.

Place         Split
Mount Kinsman Trailhead on Route 116 (1030') 0.0 0.0
First brook crossing 1.5 1.5
Bald Peak Spur (2400') 0.6 2.1
Bald Peak (2470') 0.2 2.3
Bald Peak Spur (2400') 0.2 2.5
First brook crossing 0.6 3.1
Mount Kinsman Trailhead on Route 116 (1030') 1.5 4.6



Trail map of hike route to Bald Peak on Mount Kinsman (map by Webmaster)

Trail Guide   

A hike to Bald Peak, a knob on the northwestern flanks of Mount Kinsman, is always a delight. The views from the summit are fantastic, there is the interesting Kinsman Flume to check out, and if you are hiking in early spring, you will find lots of red trilliums (Trillium erectum), wild oats (Uvularia sessilifolia), and trout lilies (Erythronium americanum) blooming along certain parts of the trail.

The hike up starts out along a wide, gentle woods road. At 0.6 mile, there is an old sugarhouse on the left of the trail. About a half-mile after that, the path gets steeper and more narrow and rocky. For this late March hike, there was a mixture of bare ground, snow, and ice on the trail. Having some kind of traction on your feet was advisable. The snow wasn't really deep enough to require snowshoes although they came in handy for the detours along the brooks.

Frozen waterfall upstream from the first brook crossing (photo by Webmaster)

There are three spots where streams intersect the footway. At the first crossing, looking upstream, we saw a hint of a waterfall. We walked alongside the brook (no trail) for less than 0.1 mile to discover a small bouldery cliff about a dozen feet high, covered with frozen streams of ice. Behind a thin wall of ice on one side, we could see the water flowing down. At the base of the falls were big boulders covered with several different kinds of lush green mosses. A wonderful spot that I hope to revisit after all the snow and ice has melted.

The next crossing has a big rock upstream with water cascading down it. The rock was mostly shielded by an ice wall but there was a "window" in the wall giving us a clear view to the falling water.

The third stream crossing is Flume Brook. A small sign on the far side of the brook directs you downstream to the right. Following this rough trail for almost 0.1 mile will bring you to Kinsman Flume which is a fantastic, deep, narrow gorge – a real treasure hidden away in the woods. Fantastic but ever elusive. The viewing of it is a bit of a challenge even in the summer since you have to perch on the edge of the flume with precarious footing and look down into the gorge. On this day, the brook was still covered by snow although we could hear the water rushing along beneath it.

View of Kinsman Ridge from Bald Peak (photo by Webmaster)

Back on the main trail we tackled one more hill to quickly arrive at the junction for Bald Peak. At a small sign for "Bald Knob Peak", we turned right onto a narrow yellow-blazed path winding through conifers with moss-covered boulders alongside the gently undulating trail. Parts of the footway were ledgy and icy.

We then broke out onto the ledgy summit of Bald Peak. Part of it is totally open with other parts cloaked with stunted conifers. The mass of Mount Kinsman fills the eastern vista and countless peaks stretch out in all other directions. To the southwest was the snow-capped Mount Moosilauke. Nearby is Easton Valley and farther out are the mountains of Vermont. Moving around on the summit to open areas among the conifers, you can also find good views to the west as well as to the north.

It was a sunny, warm day with pretty clear skies and only light wind so we lounged around on the summit for a couple hours. Finally we reluctantly headed back down the trail. We had thought we'd be leaving the sun behind but for much of the hike back, the descending sun nicely illuminated the trail through the bare hardwood trees.

Views from the summit of Bald Peak (photo by Webmaster)



NH - Central West

  Driving Directions   

The Mount Kinsman Trailhead parking lot is located on the east side of Route 116 in Easton, New Hampshire. The lower part of the trail has been relocated and there is now off-road parking 0.2 mile east of the Franconia/Easton town line instead of roadside parking at the town line.

From I-93:
  • Take Exit 38 off of I-93. The exit is signed "18, 116, 117, 142, Franconia, Sugar Hill".
  • Turn west which will be towards Routes 18, 116, and 117.
  • After barely 0.1 mile you will reach a flashing traffic light in downtown Franconia which is the junction of Routes 18 and 116.
  • Summit of Bald Peak (photo by Webmaster)
  • Go straight through the intersection onto Rt. 116 and follow that road for 4.4 miles, then turn left into a signed (the sign is small) parking area which is next to and across from a tennis camp. The turn is 0.2 mile after the Franconia/Easton town line. You will see tennis courts on both sides of the street and a very small pond on the left – turn left immediately after the pond.

From the Jct. of Routes 112 and 116:
  • From the junction of Routes 112 and 116 in Easton, head north on Rt. 116.
  • Travel for 1.7 miles beyond the town hall in Easton center which will be on the left.
  • Turn right into a signed (the sign is small) parking area which is next to and across from a tennis camp. The turn is across the road from a tennis court, just before a very small pond and another tennis court.

Trailhead and parking:
  • There is ample parking in the parking lot.
  • The trailhead is at the far end of the parking area, opposite the entrance. There is a sign at the trailhead.

More Kinsman / Bald Peak Trail Reports   



Wild oats blooming during a hike in May (photo by Webmaster) Red trillium blooming during a hike in May (photo by Webmaster) Trout lily blooming during a hike in May (photo by Webmaster)

Spring wildflowers in bloom during a hike to Bald Peak on May 10th.
Wild Oats - Red Trillium - Trout Lily (from left to right)


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