Trail: North Twin Trail
Hours: 6:00 hiking; 7:30 total
September 10, 2018
North Twin Mt (4,760’) and South Twin Mt (4,902’) are two summits usually hiked together since South Twin is only 1.3 miles from North Twin. You could peak bag further to Galehead or Garfield and make it a loop, but it would require walking on Rt. 3 to get back to your car (no bueno).
NOTE: There are three river crossings within the first two miles of this hike. I would not recommend hiking this trail in early spring as the snow starts to melt because it will make crossing the river very difficult. You may also have read reviews that you can bushwhack to miss two of the three river crossings. We tried to do this and struggled/got lost. The river crossings aren’t difficult if the river is low, so it is not worth potentially getting lost to avoid them.
My awesome friend Mackenzie decided to take a leap of faith and hike with me! Alex is thankful he didn’t go on this hike lol. We got to North Twin Trail at 9:00 AM on a cool September day and began our hike! The trailhead was at the end of Haystack Rd, which was off of Rt. 3 and easy to find. The parking lot wasn’t huge, but this is a less popular trail, so we didn’t have too much of an issue parking.
The first half of this trail was pretty uneventful besides the river crossings. There was no elevation gain, which made this portion of the trail a nice warm-up for what's to come! Around 0.8 miles, we reached the first river crossing. We knew we reached it because across the river was a hiker sign on the tree. It wasn’t difficult to rock hop once we found the right path, but finding the right path was difficult! It took us a bit to cross the first one, but we managed just fine!
The second river crossing wasn’t so easily noticeable. The trail looked as if it continued on that side of the river, but when we followed it, we quickly realized it didn’t lol. The second crossing required us to climb down a little hill to reach the river. This river crossing was the most difficult for us to navigate across, but other hikers easily found a path, so we followed them across!
The last river crossing was 1.9 miles into the trail and was the easiest! And by the time we got there, we felt like a river crossing pro! Once we hopscotched our way across, the ascent truly begins! Because the first half of this hike gained minimal elevation, we were prepared for what was to come! We gained about 2,900 feet of elevation in 2.4 miles, so get our glutes were burning!! There were also many small, loose rocks on the steep sections of this trail, so we had to watch our step!
It’s funny - I read reviews about this trail that said it was a long trail, and in my head, I’m like, yeah it’s 11 miles round trip, so it is a long trail. But now I understand what they meant. The hike to the summit of North Twin Mt seemed to continue forever. It felt SO much longer than it actually was. If you hike this trail, know that you will get there eventually!! And the views are worth it, I promise.
After what felt like an eternity, we finally reached North Twin’s summit at 11:30 AM. We knew we were close when the trail began to even out and became a leisurely walk. We scrambled the tiniest bit and then made it!! North Twin Mt didn’t have complete 360° views, but they were breathtaking nonetheless! We stayed here for about a half hour eating protein bars and playing with dogs before heading off to South Twin Mt! There was a lookout area to the left a short way into the hike that offered some views we didn’t get from North Twin’s summit. It was a small walk to get there, and worth it!
The hike from North Twin to South Twin was not difficult. We descended a bit once we got started which required us to use our hands and feet, but after that, it was smooth sailing! Minus the mud. There was a lot of mud. Also, part of the trail went through a ridge with dead trees, which was eerie, but offered some pretty views past that! We knew we were close to the summit because well… we saw the path leading directly there lol. The trail to South Twin was easy overall and had a small scramble to the summit and then VIOLA! Beautiful 360° views from South Twin’s summit.
The best thing about this hike was South Twin and North Twin were in the top middle of the White Mountains, so we got views of almost everything! When looking south, we saw the Presidentials to our left, Franconia’s mountains to our right and everything else in the middle. It was an incredible view!
We reached South Twin’s summit around 12:45 PM and stayed for an hour to eat lunch, enjoy the views, and chat with other hikers. There were surprisingly a lot of people on the summit who were BEYOND nice. They even had cookies they were giving out. Can you beat that? Nope. And there was a huge American flag with them all. They explained that they were part of the Flags on 48, who every year have volunteer hikers who put a flag on each 4,000-footer summit in remembrance of 9/11. It was really cool, and like I said they were so nice. It’s always fun meeting people on summits and hearing their stories!
At 1:45 PM, we began our trek back to North Twin Mt. Remember those scrambles we went down? Well, they were back in full force for us to climb back up! Our legs wanted to fall off because they were done with the steepness, but it didn’t last long! Soon enough, we were back to the North Twin’s summit! We decided to keep the trek going down to the car instead of spending more time on the summit.
The hike down was nothing special. As I said before, we had to be careful with the small, loose rocks especially while descending! Once we reached the rivers, we hopscotched our way across no problem because we were river crossing pros!! There were a few flat sections without roots or rocks after the crossings, so we took this chance to do a little jog. We just wanted to reach the car haha. This hike went on FOREVER. But we felt super accomplished after conquering these 11.2 miles!
Overall, I didn’t love the actual hike, but the summits were beautiful! I’m surprised I don’t hear more people talking about North Twin and South Twin because they were so beautiful! But I’m not complaining. It’s nice to have the summit less crowded!
Have you hiked North Twin and South Twin? Did you also think the trail was uneventful overall?