Quick Overview of Mount Osceola:
Elevation: 2290 feet
Hiking Difficulty: Moderate (very rocky)
Length of Hike: 6.3 miles out and back
Elevation Gain: 2,040 feet
Location: Livermore, New Hampshire near Waterville Valley and south of the Kancamagus Highway
Directions: From the south, take I-93 to exit 28. Follow Route 49 for about 14 miles and turn left onto Tripoli Road. The Mt. Osceola trail parking lot is about 5 miles on the right. Keep in mind that Tripoli Road is closed in the winter.
Bathroom?: Yes, at the trailhead
Dogs allowed?: Yes, but on a leash
A part of the White Mountains or more specifically the Sandwich range, Mount Osceola is a moderate, rocky climb with breathtaking, expansive views at the top. Even though Mount Osceola never reaches the timberline, the summit mostly consists of rocky ledge, providing views of many other 4,000-footers in New Hampshire and even faint views into Vermont.
What to expect when you hike Mount Osceola
Get ready for a lot of up and down as you climb this mountain – there are only a few stretches that don’t have boulders or roots to maneuver around but switchbacks make the climb manageable. And with a 6.3-mile round trip, you can expect to spend anywhere from 4-5 hours on this hike. But that said, this hike is still fairly moderate and is usually one of the first mountains climbed by those trying to hike all of New Hampshire’s 4,000-foot mountains.
Note that when you get to the peak of Mount Osceola, you’ll have the option of continuing to East Osceola, a path that continues on another mile but is a more challenging climb. One section of this hike contains what’s known as “The Chimney” which is almost vertical rock climbing and most hikers will need to use their hands and feet to scramble the rock. There’s a by-pass to this area, allowing one to avoid the rocks, but the climb is still challenging. There’s no view on top of East Osceola, unlike Mount Osceola, so many hikers skip this section.
Due to the rocky nature of this hike, it’s important to wear very good, well-fitting footwear with a sure grip. Spikes are essential during the winter and hiking poles will come in handy, especially in wet or icy conditions.
When’s the best time to climb Mount Osceola?
Summer and fall are the best time to climb Mount Osceola. In the winter, the access road to the trailhead is closed which means you’ll have to park and walk about two miles to the trailhead before getting started. Spikes on shoes are also essential throughout most of the winter and can be useful in the fall due to icy conditions. In the spring, the trails can get muddy, and rocks slippery due to rain, and black flies can be a nuisance.
Mount Osceola is a popular hike so be prepared for the parking lot to fill up quickly on nice weather days and expect to pass many people on the hike. While the up and down of the rocks can be a bit tiresome (especially without good footwear), arriving at the summit is worth the effort as the views are some of the best in all of New England.
About Kerry Flatley
Kerry Flatley has lived in New England for the past 26 years. She has roots in Maine & Massachusetts, family in New Hampshire, and grew up close to the Connecticut border. She loves all that this region has to offer – the ocean, mountains, islands, history, villages, and cities. When she’s not writing about New England, she’s relaxing at home in the Boston suburbs with her two teenage daughters and husband.