Owl's Head Trail is a 17.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Lincoln, New Hampshire that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, birding, and backpacking and is best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
17.2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2,992 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

backpacking

birding

hiking

forest

river

views

wildlife

over grown

rocky

Take Route 112 East from I-93 past Loon to the Lincoln Woods WMNF fee parking area on the left side of the road.

hiking
2 months ago

If you’re doing Owl’s Head you know what to expect more or less- a very long out-and-back with a brief view. Not the best pay off. Having said that it’s not as bad as it sounds. I did it the other day during peak foliage, and it was very pretty strolling along the brook. You should think of it as a long walk along a stream with an abrupt summit. The trail is a little tricky to find in some places but if you pay attention you’re fine. I didn’t do the bushwhack going up, but I did take the Brutus bushwhack to cut out the slide, which I would recommend if you’re with company, as it was not to easy to detect the herd path there. Stop in Franconia falls for a dip in summer months. Overall I would only do the hike if you’re going for your 48, otherwise you can achieve All Owl’s Head has to offer elsewhere at a discount price for your legs.

hiking
2 months ago

like others have said, over 18. Maybe closer to 17 if you do the bushwhack. I enjoyed this hike. Weather was calm. No buggs. water crossings were managable. Brook was nice to follow. Scramble up produced some great views. Meet some nice people. Definitely hard going down after the long hike in and walk out seemed to drag a bit but that was it. I wont be running back to this one but im glad for the experience

hiking
3 months ago

Firstly? 17.2 miles? Bullocks. When I got back to the trailhead, I had 19.6 on MapMyRun (which is usually pretty on the money in terms of GPS tracking).

That being said, Owls Head is NOT THE WORST THING IN THE WORLD. You just have to readjust your expectations. Think of it like a really (really) long riverwalk (and cross), followed by a slightly treacherous rock climb. If you think of it as a hike with all the usual hike accouterments , you're going to be disappointed.

Things to consider: the cairn to get to the slide is tiny and you can easily miss it. There's a bear warning sign now, which makes it a little easier to spot. The slide itself is easy enough to follow up (to scramble? Eh, depends on your skill level), but I found myself getting really confused on the descent. A little hair raising, especially when you remember you're in the middle of the Pemi wilderness.

That being said, it's really cool to be in the heart of the Pemi wilderness. The view of Fraconia Ridge from the slide is breath-taking and makes up for the lack of views at the summit. And the riverwalk portion is very meditative. So, yes, you'll probably only do this if you're getting your NH48 et al, but it's not the chore everyone makes it out to be.

hiking
3 months ago

A hell of a hike. Don't do what I did and cross the rivers during high waters (we had tons of rain that week). Take the Black Pond Bushwack to bypass the river crossings! I didn’t find out this alternative route existed until I was on my way back down the mountain.

Honestly not as bad as most peak-baggers say. Difficulty comes from the length (and maybe the last mile scramble up to the summit). Would be a beautiful hike on a nice day.

backpacking
3 months ago

We came from the north on the Lincoln woods trail which if you get the chance to do is very cool being in the middle of the Pemigewasset Wilderness. The hike up Owl's Head was a lot of fun! The steep ascent on the slide is tricky and tiring but makes for a very exciting climb. The true summit has a small cairn to mark it so after the steep up you have to do some flat walking before reaching the top. The river crossings were a bit challenging but manageable in relatively low water. :)

hiking
4 months ago

Finally did the commonly dreaded Owl's Head. While it did live up to its name of being a least favorite, it wasn't completely terrible. Would I do it again? Probably not. The water crossings were fun, the water level was high enough to not completely rock hop through. We didn't stay long at the summit thanks to mass amount of flies. The rock slide was challenging both ways but doable especially in dry conditions which we were fortunate enough to experience.

hiking
4 months ago

This was NH 4K footer summit number 47 for me. For the most part I really enjoyed it. You definitely see fewer people during the late stages of this very long trail than most of the other 4Kers. So if you're looking for peace and serenity, you'll get it here. I hiked on 07/29/2018 and here are some very important things of note if you're thinking of doing Owl's Head soon: About 1 mile and 1.5 miles into Lincoln Brook Trail, there are big river crossings that DO NOT have obvious dry ways across. I searched up and down river for 15-20 minutes looking for rock steps to no avail so eventually I just decided to wade across with my hiking shoes on. The water came up about thigh-high. Obviously my shoes got drenched but having wet feet and shoes for the remainder of the hike in warm weather seemed less risky than attempting to leap from rocks that were simply too far apart for comfort. Or wading across barefoot. So just be prepared for this. It's far enough into the hike you won't want to turn back, esp. if you're attempting to check off all 48 4Kers. Other than that, yes the last mile is brutal. Just brutal. Very steep grade along loose, wet rocks and mud. Silver lining is that about a third of the way into this last mile, you do get some amazing views. I altered my "beer at the summit" routine and had one at this spot on the way down after reaching the summit. Be prepared and have fun!

hiking
4 months ago

The highlighted trail below is basically the entire route to Owls Head excluding the actual summit push (slide and bushwhack). It’s a cool trail that gives you a chance to experience deep wilderness and a very lightly trafficked path. Although unless you’re doing Owls Head or continuing all the way to Galehead, it’s not worth the mileage. There are no blazes or bridges beyond Franconia Falls, so picking up the trail after river crossings can be tricky. Lincoln Brook crisscrosses the river several times, two of which are big crossings. These can be difficult in high water.

hiking
4 months ago

One of the most difficult and most interesting adventures I’ve done in the Whites. I decided to tackle this peak is part of my NE Hundred Highest, and from what I heard it was going to be suffer fest. I found it wasn’t as bad or unrewarding as I was told it would be. You begin with Lincoln Woods, which is very wide and pretty well trafficked, with plenty of signage. After the split for Franconia Falls, there is a big bridge into the wilderness. From here there are no bridges, no blazes and no trace of humans aside from the trail. You have to negotiate many river crossings, most of which would be very difficult in high water. As of 7/19/2018 the water is quite low and you can easily rock hop. The path is very lightly trafficked and very peaceful. The beginning of the Owls Head slide has almost no indicators aside from a small “fence” made from trees. I’d suggest using the AllTrails tracker. The slide climbs very steeply up loose rock before connecting to the obvious herd path. The slide has great views of Franconia Ridge. There is no official trail to the summit but the route is very obvious, there’s one clearing where the summit was previously thought to be, continue past this clearing to the left to the true summit, which has a clearing and a cairn as well as a large fallen tree. From there, go back the way you came. If you don’t want to go down the slide, you can always take the Brutus Bushwhack down, which is a herd path that goes around the slide. This herd path is harder to follow, in fact I lost it for a while and had to search for it by following a topo line on my tracker until I hit it again. This hike would be hellish for a leisure hiker. But if you’re an adventurous hiker who finds pleasure in being deep in the wilderness, bushwhacks and scrambling. This is the perfect hike for you. Definitely one of the most remote and difficult peaks in the Whites.

4 months ago

Miles are off from what we tracked. This was a fun hike with lots of different adventures along the way. A little bit of everything, streams, rain, wildlife, rock climb, scramble, and lots of beautiful trees, bridges, and camp sites.

hiking
4 months ago

Many folks don't like the long approach (1450' in 8 miles) or the slide (1450' in 8/10 of a mile!), or the fact that the summit is wooded and affords very little view. I consider this a nature hike. If you take your time, and pay attention, you'll see a lot of wildlife. The day of my hike, I was lucky enough to get a great shot of a pine marten at the summit area, and a beautiful, healthy moose near Black Pond (see photos). If you're looking for great summit views, you won't get them here, but you will get a great nature hike, and a chance to view the wildlife of the Whites!

5 months ago

Channeling my inner simon and Garfunkel

Hello Owls Head my old friend, I won’t be climbing you again.

Because an approach so crazy lengthy, followed by a slide that was slippery

And a summit, that was shrouded all in trees. It did not please... and make sure you get to the real top... of Owls Head.

hiking
5 months ago

The trail for the most part is fine. It is honestly not worth the time and energy unless you are trying to accomplish the NH48. Trail was in ok condition water crossings are manageable, the water level was a little higher for us and in one of them we did need to step into the delightfully cold water. The slide isn't as miserable as expected especially compared to the Tripyramids which is mainly loose gravel. This one was more boulders and the views on a good day make it worth it. I wouldn't do it again personally as the summit is wooded and the views on the slide are great but there a PLENTY of other mountains with lack luster summits with more enjoyable trails.

hiking
5 months ago

Wow. I was very pleased with this hike. The eight mile trek in (and out) are what I would consider very easy miles on great trail. There were a few stream crossings I was able to manage hopping from rock to rock fairly easily.

The mountain itself is a bit of a steep scramble up a scree field and then decent but a little overgrown trail to the top. First cairn you reach is not the true summit and you’ll need to follow a trail northward to reach the actual summit.

Surprisingly pleasant hike. This hike seems to get a bad rap but I think people are intimidated by the high mileage. The easy trail in makes up for that. The scree trail up stinks but there’s a bushwhack trail you can take alternatively to avoid it on the way down.

6 months ago

I cheated and used a mountain bike on the woods trail to the bridge but it was so worth riding back to my car

hiking
Sunday, September 17, 2017

We had a nice hike that we ended up bushwhacking from Black Pond. The hike/walk in was pretty flat and you pretty much gained elevation going under the slide. Overall I’m glad this hike is over.

Friday, August 18, 2017

I lost my Solomon sneakers on Owls Head path on 8/17/2017! About half way up the slide to the Owls Head summit. Blue and green, size 8, Solomon speed cross 3 trail runners.

Please email me if you find them and are willing to bring them down the mountain. Thank you! metzmn6@gmail.com

hiking
Monday, August 14, 2017

Oh owl's head. The first eight miles are a breeze but the water crossings are plentiful and require a lot of attention to be paid. The 1.5 mile ascent from the base of the mountain is extremely steep, loose, and dangerous. The trail is unmaintained so after the rock scrambling, the trail is overgrown and seems more like a bushwhack at times.

hiking
Thursday, October 20, 2016

Long way in to the base of the mountain from Lincoln Woods but it's a relatively easy hike since it follows old logging railroad beds & roads. Once you get to Owl's Head Path (Slide), it's a steep and somewhat dangerous hike to the top which takes about an hour. Not one my favorite 4,000 footers since it takes a lot of effort with no payoff views at the top. Many river crossings which are easy during low water periods but may become much harder during high water periods.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Steep accent - loose rocks - wooded "summit" - very few views. Glad to cross it off the list.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

the Hike was pretty boring but if you go in the summer time you can actually slide over the waterfall and into the water. It was definitely worth it although just barely...

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