|Hike||6.4 miles, 8.4 if you go to East Peak|
Take 91 North from Hanover, get off at Exit 15 toward US-5/Fairlee/Orford. Turn right onto Lake Morey Rd. Left on US-5. Turn right onto Bridge St./VT-25A and into NH. Turn right onto NH Route 10/NH-25A. Turn left onto NH-25A/Bakers Pond Rd. Turn right onto NH-118/NH-25/Mt. Moosilauke Hwy. Enter roundabout and take 2nd exit onto NH-25 E/NH-3A N/Tenney Mountain Hwy. Merge onto I-93 N. Take exit 31/Tripoli Rd toward RT-175. Turn right onto Tripoli Rd. This is a seasonal dirt road and is closed in the winter. Follow Tripoli Rd until you get to a parking area on the left for Mount Osceola Trail. This is a few miles in and after Russel Pond Campground, Mack Brook, and East Pond Trail, which are all on the left.
The trail leaves Tripoli Rd and climbs moderately. Most of the trail is quite rocky. At 1.3 miles it begins to climb by switchbacks and at 2.3 miles crosses a small brook (unreliable) on a log bridge. Continuing along switchbacks, the trail reaches the summit ledge at 3.2 miles. The summit (4340 feet) is an open flat rock slab area with a cliff looking east toward the Tripyramids and Waterville Valley. Views from here are EXCELLENT especially on a clear day. Ideal lunch location.
East Peak: Continue on the trail (to the left if you are looking out from the cliff), which descends from the summit. Parts of this trail are very steep and rocky, but only for short distances. The trail will appear to split at the steepest part. Take the left (north) path to avoid a steep chimney (on the right). The trail crosses the pass at 3.8 miles and then continues upward with a few moderately steep pitches eventually reaching the summit (4156 feet) at 4.2 miles. The summit is marked by a cairn on the left side of the trail. Views from here aren't as outstanding as on Osceola, but still definitely worth making the summit.
Tripoli Road is unplowed in the winter, so Osceola is best accessed from Route 112 (the Kancamangus Highway) to the north. To get to Osceola, take the Greeley Ponds trail south from 112; after 1.3 flat, easy miles, the Mt. Osceola trail will split off to the right. The Mt. Osceola trail steep enough to be pretty scary - you'll climb around 2,000 vertical feet in 1.3 miles to the summit of East Osceola. Crampons or microspikes are a must for any winter or early spring hikes up this trail. Teach your trippees to kick footholds into the snow and follow the steps of those before them to help your group get up the steepest segments.
From East Osceola it's about a mile to the main summit. At the base of the main summit is an extremely steep chimney that can be completely covered with ice in the winter - not something you'll want to go up unless you advertised it as an ice climbing trip! Apparently you can reach the summit more easily by bushwhacking to the right at this point, but that's just hearsay from a dude I saw on the trail.
Butt-sliding on the descent of East Osceola can be a lot of fun, and also quite dangerous - there are a few points where it's easy to build up speed, lose control, and slide right off the trail and break yourself. Make sure your trippees understand the danger and slide cautiously.
White Mountain Guide
Advice & Anecdotes
Don't let the unreliable small brook keep you from planning this hike. We were able to pass it without a problem at the end of May even after a few days of rain. Plan so you have time to chill at the summit of Osceola...you'll definitely want to spend some time there especially if it is a clear day. This hike is great because it doesn't take much to get to the top and once you get there the reward is awesome. So for everyone who doesn't want to spend a ton of time hiking, but desires those sick views, this trip is for you.
N.B., there are two ways to get up to the top of the mountain. The Greeley Pond Trail is accessible year-round, but it requires summiting East Osceola before making it to the main peak and the awesome views. The Tripoli Road trail is closed in the winter, but if it's open you want to take it: it's a little easier and a more direct route to the top. But be careful, the Tripoli trailhead is easy to overlook- the parking area is on the right hand side, and the road is paced until just before the trailhead, where it suddenly turns to gravel. Also, the drive to the mountain from Hanover is deceptively long; budget time for something like 1 1/2 to 2 hours both ways. All in all, Osceola is a great mountain for a day hike: relatively limited effort for awesome panoramic views of the Whites from the top.
- Group: Nick Thyr '17 (leader), Adam Burnett '18 (heeler), Michelle Dundek '18, Dan Pomerantz '18
- Weather: Sunny and clear, but rather windy. Excellent viewing up top.
- Route: We started at Tripoli Road and hiked up to Mount Osceola, continued to East Osceola, then retraced our steps back to the vehicle. This totaled 8.4 miles.
- Trail Conditions: There were some smallish snow patches near the summit of Osceola, but microspikes were not needed.
- Time: The hike took 5 hours and 20 minutes round trip.