Conquering the Kinsmans
Located in Grafton County, North and South Kinsman offer an excellent opportunity to test your skills in on some challenging peaks.
The White Mountains of New Hampshire are home to some challenging terrain, the Kinsman Ridge is no exception. Approaching from the East, a trailhead can be found at Lafayette Place Campground.
On this trip, the campsite chosen was strategically placed across from the trail. Hiking in October 2020, it is best to start early and maximize sunshine. The Lonesome Lake shelter is closed due to Covid, but brave campers still have a spot at the Kinsman Lake campsite.
Starting up the Lonesome Lake Trail, the trail is steady and somewhat steep. This has the tendency to lure nature lovers and "leaf peepers" up the trails to the Lake where a peaceful resting spot can be enjoyed, with or without proper footwear.
The hike approaches the lake from the eastern end of the lake. On this particular hike, we navigated around the southern edge to the Lonesome Lake hut.
There is a small dock, and during normal seasons, you can stop in the hut to use the restroom or for food. For a fee, you can also stay at the hut overnight. This is a chance to refill your water and move on to the fun part.
Steep trails give way to small wonders of nature. As you climb, any reprieve may be a welcome break from the climb. Along the path, you may find that you have to descend quite a ways in some areas. This is a tell-tale sign that there are some arduous areas ahead. For every step downward, there must be two to regain the elevation.
After climbing roughly 3,600 feet, you reach the Kinsman Pond. A caretaker stays at this site to tend to guests and people in need. On this particular day, we were informed of an incoming storm that would arrive by evening.
It can not be noticed from the beautiful sky, the storm brings 100 mph winds and rain. Weather can change quickly here, be prepared.
After ascending the Fishin' Jimmy trail, which is sometimes easier said than done, you can join the Kinsman Ridge trail South to North Kinsman. If you are not looking for it, you can pass by it without noticing. There are no signs toward the summit, but if you follow the trail, you will find a steep incline to South Kinsman. This is how you really know that you have gone too far.
By this time, those without proper footwear and the generally ill-prepared have been weeded out. Crossing 70%+ grades between the Kinsman peaks, some points can appear almost vertical. If it is a challenge that is being sought, any trail along the Kinsman Ridge from Lafayette Place will certainly deliver. On both of the Kinsman peaks, there are small paths that lead to great views. On the north peak, the path is a little more difficult to find.