Hiking Mount Whiteface and Mount Passaconaway in Winter via Blueberry Ledge Trail
Hiked up to Whiteface and Passaconaway via Blueberry Ledge Trail for numbers 35 and 36 of our winter New Hampshire 48 4,000 footers on an unseasonably warm winter day with blue skies above the clouds.
Hike Date: December 31, 2021
|Start at Ferncroft Parking area
|Blueberry Ledge Trail to Mt. Whiteface
|Rollins Trail to Dicey’s Mill Trail
|Dicey’s Mill Trail to Mt. Passaconaway
|Walden and East Loop Trails down to Dicey’s Mill Trail
|Dicey’s Mill Trail back to Ferncroft Parking
Blueberry Ledge Trail to Mt. Whiteface
The parking area to hike Whiteface and Passaconaway is at the Ferncroft Trailhead. We parked there and walked the brief bit along the road past some private residences to start on Blueberry Ledge Trail. There are a few side trails, but things were clearly marked to help us stay on Blueberry Ledge and ascend toward Mt. Whiteface. It was pretty mellow at the beginning and gave us a nice warm up entering the Sandwich Range Wilderness. As the trail climbed, we found ourselves in a misty cloud which gave the forest an eerie feel and obscured some little viewpoints.
Close to the top, Blueberry Ledge Trail goes over a few ledges with some steep and somewhat tricky climbs. In winter, these can ice over and make for a challenging route. We knew this having hiked the route in fall and were prepared, but were pleasantly surprised to find them relatively easy to navigate. There wasn’t any sheer ice for us to contend with so a few careful steps were all we needed to make the climb safely.
Once above the ledges, we quickly came to an open viewpoint. This isn’t the actual summit – that lies a little further along the trail – but it is the best place to stop and rest in the open on Mt. Whiteface. We were just at the top of the cloud layer soaking in the sun and gazing out at a pretty nice undercast. The wispy cloud tops enveloped us and dissipated periodically giving us a constantly changing view and experience.
Whiteface to Passaconaway
From there, we continued on Rollins Trail passing the wooded summit of Mt. Whiteface and heading toward Mt. Passaconaway. The ridgeline trail gave us a beautiful hike all the way to the intersection with Dicey’s Mill Trail. We would descend this trail later, but first we took a left to head up to Mt. Passaconaway.
There is a mini loop of trails to the summit of Mt. Passaconaway and we took it clockwise, going up Dicey’s Mill and down Walden Trail to East Loop. Some go the other way or do an out and back – neither way seems to be better than others. Either way up is pretty steep, but we made our way going slower and slower as we tired out. There was a little open spot along the trail with a bit of a view close to the summit, which is just off trail in the woods. There’s also a better view facing north toward the Presidential Range a quarter mile down a spur trail, but we opted to skip that as we were plenty filled already and chose not to add any distance.
Descending Dicey’s Mill Trail
We descended the other side of the loop on Walden Trail, which was also pretty steep, and made our way back to Dicey’s Mill Trail which would take us back to the parking lot. This trail is nice and easy to head down. Toward the bottom it crosses a stream on a log bridge and then goes on for a while along mostly flat terrain. The trail reaches its end at a private residence and a tiny road leading back to the parking lot.