Welch-Dickey: The Perfect Lazy Morning Hike
I had heard a lot about the Welch-Dickey loop in Waterville Valley before this hike, namely the gorgeous views for relatively little effort. On Saturday I was trying to figure out where to hike with Lucy. She’s still working on her endurance and confidence in the mountains, so I wanted a shorter hike with short rocky sections to get her used to ascending and descending rock slabs. I was thinking about hiking Mt. Moosilauke with her, but we ended up waking up late so we decided on Welch-Dickey for a little bit of a shorter day.
When we pulled into the parking lot just before 10:00am it was pretty busy but not completely full. There were a few WMNF volunteers at the trailhead giving people information about the hike which I thought was great! I guess they’ve been stationing volunteers at popular trailheads lately to help hikers be informed about the conditions. This is super important for hikes like Franconia Ridge where there have been so many rescues lately for unprepared hikers.
When we started up the trail there were quite a few hikers around us. We passed some people and tried to keep up a good pace to give us some distance. Hiking with people right behind us is really hard for Lucy because she is constantly turning around and waiting for them in the hopes that they’ll pet her. After a little while they were out of sight which made things a little bit easier. The trail was a bit muddy with one crossing right at the beginning. Lucy did great for this crossing, confidently stepping in the water to cross. I was super proud of her because she’s usually scared for any stream crossings. Looks like she’s making progress!
The trail was rocky from the start, a stark contrast from the Vermont trails I had been on the week before. That being said, it was very well maintained with no blowdowns on the entire 4.4 mile loop. After just over a mile of very gradually inclining trail, we got to the Welch Ledges, our first of many gorgeous views. The weather was a warm and sunny, not a cloud in the sky. There were many hikers with dogs perched on the ledges soaking up the sunny weather. We stopped for a quick picture and continued on our way because it was really busy and Lucy was getting restless.
As we made our way over to Welch Mountain, it was hard to focus on our footing because the views to our right were so great. We had views of the Tripyramids and many other mountains to the north east. There were some tricky spots to hike up, and I was constantly glad that I had boots with good treads. The huge slabs of rock were at a really subtle angle, but some of them were a bit steeper than others. It was pretty easy to navigate, but Lucy was so excited with all of the other dogs hiking around her, there were some spots that we should have paid a little more attention to our footing.
The views on top of Welch Mountain were really breathtaking. I could see over to Dickey where we were headed, which looked further than I expected. The views were pretty much 360 degrees and the weather was absolutely perfect. The downside was that it was really crowded all along the trail. This being an easier, more popular hike, really catered to the masses. Lucy and I weren’t too bothered by it though because we kept on moving pretty much the whole time. I’m not one to stop for breaks all that often even when it’s less crowded. When we did stop, Lucy loved all of the attention that other hikers were giving her!
We descended down to the col between Welch and Dickey pretty quickly, for there was good footing along the way. This is where I saw the most progress for Lucy on the trail. She’s usually pretty nervous about coming down rocky paths, but she seemed confident here. The climb up to Dickey Mountain wasn’t very steep but I could see how it would be very challenging when slippery or wet. The views continued on Dickey Mountain and just got better and better as we went. There was a nice traverse looking back over at Welch Mountain with ledges where many people were sitting and eating lunch. Lucy and I sat here for a while and rested before the final wooded descent back to the car.
This was one of my favorite short hikes that I’ve done so far. There were spots that were a little bit tricky and the terrain varied between wooded trail and open slabs making every minute entertaining. It was a gorgeous day for hiking and both Lucy and I loved being outside for a quick, but really rewarding hike. So what makes this the perfect lazy morning hike you might ask? Probably its southern(ish) location in Waterville Valley, the big parking lot that doesn't fill up too early, the great views for relatively little effort, and the short time commitment required. You can sleep in, leave the house late, and still get in a great hike with lots of time left in the day for other things like napping with your pup!
Welch Mtn. (2605 ft) and Dickey Mtn. (2734 ft) via. Welch-Dickey Loop [4.5 mi, 1925 ft, 2:30]