The Pemi Loop. In one day. Backpacker Magazine has named it the second hardest day hike in America, which, for most normal human beings, is down-right laughable. It is, after all, roughly the equivalent of doing three Tough Mudders. Conquering the 31.5-mile trek in a day with its eight mountains over 4,000 feet and 9,000 feet of cumulative elevation gain requires superior fitness…or a complete lack of common sense.
Let’s see if this makes sense: there’s no truly difficult part of climbing Bondcliff in New Hampshire’s White Mountains and the Pemigewasset Wilderness. The first 50 percent of the hike covering the Lincoln Woods Trail and Wilderness Trail is all flat, heavily traveled ground. Yes, there are a few steep sections on the Bondcliff Trail—show me a 4,000-foot mountain in the Northeast that doesn’t have some serious ups—but even these are quite forgiving by White Mountains’ standards.
The Pemi Loop. The name alone brings a wistful smile to many a New England hiker’s face. Eight wide-open summits on the New Hampshire 48 list of 4,000+ footers—each offering spectacular views of the Pemigewasset Wilderness—plus four other “optional” 4,000+ peaks bagged via short side trails, help make The Loop an annual addiction for many.