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Mt. Tripyramid

Length: 11.2 miles out-and-back with loop

Difficulty (click for info): Extreme

Elevation Gain: 3000 feet

Rating (click for info): 8/10

Elevation: 4180' (North), 4140' (Middle), and 4100' (South)

Prominence: 1360' (North), 280' (Middle), and 120' (South)

Driving Directions:
Trailhead and parking area are West Branch Road in Waterville Valley, NH. From Exit 28 on Rt. 93, drive 10.2 miles northeast on Rt. 49 and turn left onto Tripoli Road (signs for Waterville Valley Ski Area). In 1.2 miles, bear right to avoid the ski area entrance and continue 0.6 miles down Tripoli Road. Turn right onto West Branch Road and immediately bear left into the parking area.

About the Hike:
The three peaks of Mt. Tripyramid are collectively one of the most distinct and easily recognizable mountains in the Whites. Limited views are found from the summits of North and Middle peaks (the two official 4000-footers), but the best views on this mountain by far are seen from its notorious landslides. This scenic loop hike includes both Tripyramid slides and the summit viewpoints. The Mt. Tripyramid Trail follows both slides for their entire length, and is consequently one of the most difficult hiking trails in New Hampshire. The North Tripyramid Slide in particular is dangerous in bad conditions and when descending. Consult other guides for different options for climbing the Tripyramids.

The hike to the Tripyramids begins with a long walk on the multi-use Livermore Trail, lined with small wildflowers in the spring. Start from the kiosk at the east end of the parking area and walk out to a junction. Turn left onto the flat, graded Livermore Trail, marked as Livermore Road on the cross-country ski trail signs. An easy walk of 0.3 miles leads out to a grassy clearing. Descend to pass another multi-use trail and cross a brook on a bridge, passing by Greeley Ponds Trail. In a short distance, the trail crosses Mad River on another bridge. Next, Boulder Path leaves on the right toward Snows Mountain and the trail soon passes an impressive boulder in Avalanche Brook, far below (Access this boulder by following Boulder Path to it, then climbing up the steep hillside on a herd path back to Livermore Trail). Soon, pass Big Pines Path on the left. This spur trail leads down to a stand of pine trees near the Mad River and will add 0.4 miles to your hike. In 0.2 miles, pass Irene's Path on the left. Soon, the trail becomes sandy and leads gently uphill into a meadow, climbing very gradually. 0.6 miles from the meadow, Norway Rapids Trail diverges to the right; in 0.1 miles, this trail reaches a rocky water slide. This detour is included in the mileage. Back on Livermore Trail, continue 0.4 miles and bear left where an old road crosses a bridge at a sign indicating the end of the ski trail system. The trail now begins to climb more noticeably and joins Avalanche Brook. Soon after, herd paths lead down to the brook to access a scenic cascade and pool. The gradual ascent continues. In 0.3 miles from the cascade, the south end of Mt. Tripyramid Trail (where you will return) leads to the right, over Avalanche Brook. One more mile remains to the north end of this trail. Halfway through this section, the trail passes a clearing on the left.

At a left turn in Livermore Trail, turn right onto the much narrower Mt. Tripyramid Trail and descend to cross Avalanche Brook. It leads steeply up the bank on the other side, then turns across the slope to traverse above the brook. Climbing is still fairly gradual. Soon, it crosses the boundary of the Sandwich Range Wilderness. After 0.4 miles of up-and-down walking above the brook, the trail becomes steeper and turns right, soon reaching the gravel at the very bottom of the North Tripyramid Slide. The trail climbs more moderately into the rocky gully and quickly becomes very steep. After climbing over a few slabs, the slide becomes too mossy to climb and the trail diverges into the woods to the left of the slide. It climbs rapidly, and the trail surface becomes rock slabs again. The footing is good as you climb through the forest; then the trail swings to the right and drops you back into the rocky gulch at the center of the slide, where the first views, looking at the cliffs of Mt. Osceola, open. The slide soon reaches its full steepness and views continue to open. The most difficult part of the slide is here, on the lower slabs, where a solid grip with both feet and hands is needed to progress; choose your route carefully. Beyond this, the trail again bears left into the forest beside the slide where climbing gets a little easier. Make sure to follow the trail carefully and watch for where it goes back to the center. The surface of the slide now begins to change into chunks of loose rock and gravel; stay on the left side for better footing on rock slabs, but cross to the right side before the slide forks. Aim for a large cairn at the very top. After much tedious climbing over sand and loose rock, reach the cairn. To the right of the cairn is a split boulder, perfect to rest on while you enjoy the spectacular view. To the far left is Mt. Tecumseh. Mt. Moosilauke rises over Thornton Gap between Tecumseh and Osceola; to the right of East Osceola are the Kinsmans. Next over is the Franconia Range, with the V-shaped Lincoln Slide prominently displayed. Next over, Mt. Garfield rises to left of the Twin Range, with Mt. Kancamagus in the foreground below. Closer and to the right are long Mt. Hancock, above Mts. Hitchcock and Huntington, and impressive Mt. Carrigain. Beyond Carrigain to the right is Mt. Willey, with the Nancy Range to the right of that. Furthest to the right is the Presidential Range.

Leaving the boulder, climb just a few feet to the top of the slide and turn left into the woods. In total, the slide was half a mile long. The steep climb continues through the forest for 0.1 mile to a trail junction. Turn right onto Mt. Tripyramid Trail/Pine Bend Brook Trail and reach the summit of North Tripyramid, where a spur leads left to a limited viewpoint to the northeast, looking at the Carter, Baldface, and Moat Ranges. The trail now descends from North Tripyramid and leads through the pleasant forest between North and Middle Peaks. Half a mile from the summit, Sabbaday Brook Trail enters from the left and Pine Bend Brook Trail ends. Continue ahead on Mt. Tripyramid Trail for a moderately steep 0.3 mile climb to Middle Tripyramid. Just before the summit, there is a good viewpoint to the west at Mt. Tecumseh and its ski area. Some of the view from North Tripyramid Slide can be seen through the trees. At Middle Tripyramid's summit, there is a view to the east, similar to North Tripyramid's view, but slightly better. You can see Mts. Chocorua and Passaconaway from here. Leaving the summit, the trail scrambles down a steep pitch, then descends easily, passing an interesting rock cave. It runs flat for a short way, then climbs steeply up South Tripyramid, passing a very limited view back at North and Middle Peaks. The summit is reached half a mile from Middle Tripyramid. There is no view here.

The trail then meanders around near the summit, turns left, and scrambles steeply down toward the South Tripyramid Slide. Just below the top of the slide is a flat rock which provides a great place to sit and enjoy the view. There is a good view south to Lake Winnipesaukee and the Belknap Range. To the right of the Lake is Red Hill, with Flat Mountain in front. Mt. Israel is seen to the right. Next over is Sandwich Dome, with a different Flat Mountain in front. Off to the far right are Welch and Dickey Mountains and Mt. Tecumseh. Just below, Kate Sleeper Trail enters from the left at a blaze. The south slide is much easier than the north one and is safe to descend. The descent involves scrambling down and walking over gravel and sand. It is also much narrower than the north slide. Not too far down, the slide enters the woods, but still continues down very steeply, soon coming back out into the open. It passes a boulder which invites climbing, and keeps going down steeply until it enters the forest again. The slide soon ends, 0.4 miles from its top, and the trail turns right and begins a gradual walk down through the forest. After a while, it joins Slide Brook, eventually passing Black Cascade (visible only through the trees). After the trail leaves Slide Brook, it crosses several minor streams before leaving the wilderness to cross Avalanche Brook, where it ends back at Livermore Trail, 1.9 miles from the base of the slide.

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