The Sun Sets on the Schist State

The sunset from Lakes of the Clouds Hut (Photo by Abby Chick)
Standing on top of Croo Rocks (Photo by Arran Dindorf)
My favorite part of backpacking trips: sunsets. While day hikes undoubtedly have their perks - light packs, ice cream cones, and comfy beds to name a few - watching the sun descend from the top of a mountain is a nearly unbeatable experience. I celebrated this year's Summer Solstice by taking a short trip through the Southern Presidentials and watching the sun go down on two of the longest days of the year. On Wednesday night I watched a brilliant sunset from the spot know as "Croo Rocks" outside Lakes of the Clouds Hut, and on Thursday I watched an equally magnificent sunset from atop Liberty Mountain on Franconia Ridge.

I hiked up to Lakes of the Clouds in perfect weather on Wednesday afternoon via the Boott Spur Trail. Although not as heavily traveled as Tuckerman Ravine Trail or Lion Head, Boott Spur Trail is one of my favorite hikes in the Pinkham Notch area. Boott Spur Trail follows the left ridge of Tuckerman Ravine and provides stellar views of the Ravine and Wildcat Ridge. My favorite part of the trail, though, is the uniquely craggy Boott Spur summit, which makes for fun scrambling and excellent views. From the trailhead at Pinkham Notch, it is 3.3 miles along the Boott Spur Trail to the summit of Boott Spur, and from here it is 1.5 miles along the Davis Path and Camel Trail to the Lakes of the Clouds Hut.

After a scrumptious dinner at Lakes, I ventured outside with a friend to watch a brisk and beautiful sunset. As the last rays disappeared, we headed back inside for a warm drink and a cozy night. Although I love to camp, it's hard to beat a warm night in the Huts. If you're interested in making a reservation at Lakes or one of our other lodge or hut facilities, visit our website ( or call our Reservations department at (603) 466-2727 Monday through Saturday 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM.

The next morning, I headed down from Lakes and drove to Franconia Notch, which is just over an hour from Pinkham. I hiked up Liberty Spring Trail to the Liberty Spring campsite in the late afternoon. The hike up to the campsite is about 2.6 miles from the trailhead off of Rt. 93. Although short, the Liberty Spring Trail packs a punch. The ascent is steady and the climb is not technical, but it is definitely a challenge.

(Photo by Abby Chick)
The sunset from Mt. Liberty (Photo by Mike Grip)
My favorite part about staying at Liberty is the campsite's close proximity to Franconia Ridge. The site sits just 0.3 miles from the ridge, and Mt. Liberty is just a quick 10 minute walk South on the ridge, making it the perfect summit for a sunset watch. You can find out the time of the sunset from the caretaker at the site, and head up about 40 minutes before to watch the sky transform. The Liberty Spring campsite has 10 tent platforms, giving the site a total capacity of 44. It is $8/person to stay for the night, and the fee is paid to the caretaker on site.

During my trip, I was lucky enough to have awesome weather during the day and while watching some incredible sunsets. However, good weather is by no means a guarantee here in the Whites. Weather can change in an instant, so it is important to not only know the latest weather forecast but also to be prepared for the worst. To get updates on the weather, check the Mount Washington Observatory website (  For more recommendations on how to plan a trip and stay safe in the backcountry, visit Hike Safe (, a joint effort between the White Mountain National Forest and New Hampshire Fish & Game Department to educate hikers on the inherent risks of hiking and how they can become better prepared before beginning any hike.

Equally as impressive as sunsets are sunRISES! For those of us who might not be motivated to hike at 5am (yikes), the Mt. Washington Auto Road is now offering Sunrise Drives on Sunday, June 30 (open at 3:30 AM), Sunday, July 28 (open at 4:00 AM), Sunday, August 25 (open at 4:30 AM). For more information, visit 

**The Tuckerman Ravine Trail from Hermit Lake Shelters to the summit of Mt. Washington is now OPEN! More to come.. 

For any general questions, conditions information, or trail advice, please feel free to contact us here at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center front desk.  We are available by phone at (603) 466-2721 every day from 6:30 AM to 10:00 PM or by email at

Happy Hiking! 
Abby C.   

Labels: , , ,