The second of three scheduled New Hampshire trips this summer took us to the White Mountains’ Sandwich Range—specifically a 13.6 mile loop over Mt. Whiteface (4020 ft) and Mt. Passaconaway (4043 ft). I’d never been to this part of the Whites before, which is not surprising because we chose this route specifically to avoid the usual weekend crowds.

The hike up Whiteface along the Blueberry Ledge Trail was challenging with long, steep ascents and plenty of rock scrambling, consistent with the AMC Guide’s description as “one of the more challenging climbs” in the Whites. Having encountered only a departing hiker in the parking lot, we spent the night alone near the wooded summit of Mt. Whiteface. (Our serenity would prove fleeting the next morning when a pack of shirtless teenage boys arrived on an orientation trip from a New Hampshire boarding school.) Connecting to Passaconaway on the Rollins Trail, we saw several men hiking with what turned out to be sections of a large flagpole; they were part of a “Flags on the 48” program commemorating victims of terrorist attacks in 2001. Perhaps due to the day’s limited visibility—the “dramatic” viewpoints offered nothing but opaque clouds—the most remarkable scenery was that of Square Ledge and the fields of pink and blue granite strewn about on the rougher Square Ledge Trail. Still, the ledge is probably the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in the White Mountains, and completely justified the long trek. We headed back on Kelley Trail.

There is one more highlight to this trip: the Sandwich Creamery, the first stop on our impromptu New Hampshire ice cream crawl. It’s hard to get to but worth the trip—it really is true that happy cows make better ice cream.