Mount Osceola: What You Need to Know Before Visiting

The view from Mount Osceola in New Hampshire

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 primarily consists of a 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 many ups and downs as you climb this mountain. Only a few stretches 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 4-5 hours on this hike. But that said, this hike is still relatively 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 reach Mount Osceola’s peak, you’ll have the option of continuing to East Osceola. This path 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. This area has a by-pass, allowing one to avoid the rocks, but the climb is still challenging. Unlike Mount Osceola, many hikers skip this section because there’s no view on top of East Osceola.

Due to the rocky nature of this hike, it’s essential to wear excellent, well-fitting footwear with a sure grip. Spikes are necessary during the winter, and hiking poles will be helpful, 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. They can be helpful in the fall due to icy conditions. In the spring, the trails can get muddy, 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 suitable footwear), arriving at the summit is worth the effort as the views are some of the best in New England.

See related:

What is New Hampshire Known for? (15 Things it’s Famous for)

A photo of Kerry Flatley leaning against a wall

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *