Kinsmans in Winter

Kinsmans in Winter via Mount Kinsman Trail

Hike Date: January 10, 2021

Hiked the Kinsman Trail to North and South Kinsman where we saw the most breathtaking undercast – a veritable ocean of clouds extending to the horizon.


Elevation Gain
0 ft


Segment Distance

Total Distance

Route Description

0 mi0 miStart at Mount Kinsman Trailhead
3.7 mi3.7 miMount Kinsman Trail to Kinsman Ridge Trail
0.4 mi4.1 miKinsman Ridge Trail to the summit of North Kinsman
0.9 mi5 miKinsman Ridge Trail to the summit of South Kinsman
0.9 mi5.9 miKinsman Ridge Trail back to the summit of North Kinsman
0.4 mi6.3 miKinsman Ridge Trail back to Mount Kinsman Trail
3.7 mi10 miMount Kinsman Trail back to the parking lot


Note: Map mileage does not match stats because Gaia GPS tends to undercount it. Mileage stats were calculated using the White Mountain Guide and Trail Maps.

Hands down, Mount Kinsman Trail to North and South Kinsman is one of our favorite routes in the Whites. It gains plenty of elevation, but does so gradually, which makes it plenty manageable. This was our second time hiking it, this time in winter, and it was just incredible.

We parked off of Route 116 at Mount Kinsman Trailhead and started up Mount Kinsman Trail around 10am. It hadn’t snowed recently and the snow was packed nicely by plenty of trail traffic. We kept up a steady pace admiring the beauty of the day and the frost-caked trees.

Mount Kinsman Trail
Frost-covered trees

The day was mostly grey and gloomy, pretty typical for most winter hiking days in NH. As we approached Kinsman Ridge Trail, however, we found ourselves just above the cloud layer with clear blue skies overhead between the trees. At the trail juncture, we got a few views of the beautiful day up above the clouds. The sun lit up the trail resplendently as we made quick time to the summit of North Kinsman and took in the view of Franconia Ridge across the notch.

Clear sky above the clouds
Cannon Mountain shrouded in clouds
Sun-drenched winter trail
View of Cannon Mountain and Franconia Ridge from North Kinsman

The trail along Kinsman Ridge between the peaks was about as scenic as possibly imaginable. Fluffy snow on every tree with bright sun illuminating the scene made every step an absolute joy. The trail is only 0.9 miles and is pretty gentle. There are a couple steep slabby spots just after North Kinsman, but the climb to South Kinsman is relatively mild. We are always surprised by how domed that peak is. As we got closer to the summit, it became abundantly clear that there was a stunning undercast waiting for us.

Beautiful section of Kinsman Ridge Trail
A peek at even better views to come

Our jaws dropped as we approached the summit and saw just how truly spectacular the undercast was. An ocean of clouds spread out across the landscape all the way to the horizon. In the distance, we could make out some of the 4,000 footers in Vermont – Camel’s Hump and Mt. Mansfield. That took us back to our section hikes of the Long Trail this past summer.

We layered up and spent a while enjoying the most spectacular undercast we’ve ever witnessed. It truly felt like a gift from the mountains that day – one that we sorely needed too. The mountains have provided us with so much solace in these difficult times amid a global pandemic. I really can’t overstate how spiritually filled we are by our time outdoors. As we sat there awestruck, I reflected on my gratitude for this moment and the profound peace that it was bringing me.

In awe of this undercast
Ocean of clouds

I probably could have stayed on South Kinsman all day, but eventually we needed to descend. We retraced our steps back across North Kinsman and down Mount Kinsman Trail. The clouds cleared by the time we reached the flatter trails at the bottom. It was a perfect day in the mountains leaving us filled up and ready for more.

Kinsman Mountain Trail

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