New England Hiking -

Hike Owl's Head

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Owl's Head Information

Elevation: 4,025 feet (1,227 meters)
Prominence: What is Prominence? 825 feet (251 meters)
Location: Franconia, NH
Range: Pemigewasset Wilderness
Coordinates: 44°8'40" North     71°36'18" West
Rating: How do the ratings work? Moderate
Features: Brooks
Distance of highlighted hike below: 18.2 miles

Owls Head is a 4,025 foot mountain in the White Mountains. It is part of the Pemigewasset Wilderness along with Mount Hancock, South Hancock Mountain and Mount Carrigain.

It is one of the only NH 48 4,000 footers without a maintained trail to the summit. (But so many hikers have been there, that the trail is obvious.) There are no views from the wooded summit, but you can catch some great spots with views along the Owl's Head Path looking to Mount Lafayette, Mount Lincoln and Little Haystack Mountain.

In 2005, it was discovered that the summit was actually a lower peak of the mountain. The true summit is now classified as being 0.2 miles north of that. (If you hiked the mountain before 2005, or hearing of this news, your original hike to the false summit, still counts!) The summit area of Owl's Head is a bit tricky with multiple narrow trails that can seem like a maze, but they all lead to the summit cairn.

Lists Owl's Head are on: = A patch is available for this list
New Hampshire 4,000 footers
New Hampshire 4,000 footers in Winter season
New England 4,000 footers
New England 4,000 footers in Winter season
     New Hampshire Hundred Highest
New England Hundred highest
New England Hundred highest in Winter season
Northeast 111
Trailwrights 72 summit club
48x12 "The Grid"


Owl's Head summit cairn - Owl's Head Path - Owl's Head Slide - Hike Owl's Head Mountain 4000 Footer
Cairn on the summit of Owl's Head on September 1, 2012.


owls head slide owls head trail hike 4000 footers owls head
The beginning of the Owl's Head Slide trail. Let the loose rocks begin! On September 1, 2012.

Owl's Head Path - Owl's Head Slide Trail
This is how half of the Owl's Head (Slide) Path is: Very loose rocks = very dangerous!

Owl's Head Trail Maps - Directions from the Lincoln Woods Visitor's Center Top

The map below shows how to get to the summit of Owl's Head Mountain from the Lincoln Woods Visitor's Center.

Hike along the Lincoln Woods Trail up past the Black Pond Trail and the Franconia Falls Trail. Continue straight and bear left onto the Franconia Brook Trail. Hike for 1.7 miles until you reach a junction with the Lincoln Brook Trail. Take the left onto Lincoln Brook Trail and hike for 3.4 miles until you reach the Owl's Head Path trail on your right. The summit is 1.1 miles up! (This 1.1 miles is very loose rocks and incredibly steep, so be careful and take your time. Average hiker time takes about 2 hours just to get up this slide.) Once you find the summit cairn, retrace your steps back to the Lincoln Woods Parking lot.

Many people choose to mountain bike the first 3ish miles of the Lincoln Woods Trail, to knock off some time, because the trail is flat. But be sure to watch out for old railroad planks from the old East Branch and Lincoln Railroad, that stick out of the ground. This was the largest logging railroad in New England. The last train to ride the rails was in 1948. You will see signs of the old railroad for the majority of your hike. On your way back down from Owl's Head, just pick up your bike and cruise down to the parking lot! (BUT if your goal is to complete the NH 48 4,000 Footers and get the long-awaited patch for your success, rules say NO BIKES.)

map owls head nh new hampshire owl's head slide lincoln woods visitors center trail franconia falls trail lincoln brook trail hike owls head 4000 footers hiking owls head
Click to download PDF Trail Map of Owl's Head

Alternative Hiking Route
This is how to get to the summit of Owl's Head Mountain from the Galehead Hut. (So this hike generally requires an overnight by staying at this hut, the 13 Falls Tent site or the Garfield Ridge Campsite.)

From the Galehead Hut, take the Twin Brook Trail for 2.7 miles until you reach a 4-way intersection. (On the right and left will be the Franconia Brook Trail.) Stay straight onto the Lincoln Brook Trail for 3.5 miles until you reach a trail on the left called Owl's Head Path. Go up that path, and you will reach the summit of Owl's Head in 1.1 miles.

To get back to the Galehead Hut, retrace your steps back the 7.3 miles.


Lincoln Woods Visitor Center, Lincoln, NH Owl's Head old railroad flat trails - Lincoln Woods Trail
Lincoln Woods Visitor Center. Begin your 18.2
mile journey here!
How most of the trail looks: flat, old railroad beds (If you take the Lincoln Woods Trail)
Owl's Head Photos Top

Owl's Head Path - Owl's Head Slide - Hiking Owl's Head Mountain 4000 footer
An outlook point on the Owl's Head Path on September 1, 2012.

Owl's Head Driving Directions Top

These are driving directions to the Lincoln Woods Visitor's Center Parking Lot:
Take exit 32 off I-93 onto the Kancamagus Highway, Route 112. Continue for 5 miles until you reach the Lincoln Woods Visitor Center on the left. (It is just shortly after the Hancock Campground on the right.)

Directions to the alternative route up to Owl's Head, via the Garfield Trail head parking lot:
Take exit 35 off I-93 to merge onto the route 3 / Daniel Webster Highway. Drive 4.8 miles and turn right onto Gale River Loop Road. Parking is by the Garfield Trail trail head

On this page: Information | Trail maps | View Photos | Driving Directions | Top

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