The Mt. Waumbek hike features its only scenic view of the presidential range from Mt. Starr King.
Mt. Waumbek (4,006 feet) via the Starr King Trail is one of the easier, if not the easiest, hikes on the New Hampshire 48 of White Mountain summits over 4,000 feet. For winter hiking, the gradual to moderate ascent with a passover on Mt. Starr King (3,907 feet), is a great option for those breaking in their winter trail legs, winter 4K beginners, or anyone who may have packed on a little extra holiday weight (hypothetically speaking, of course).
Distance: 7.2 miles (round trip)
Elevation gain: 2,550 feet
Time: 3-5 hours
Difficulty: Weekend Warriors
Recommended Gear: Microspikes, Snowshoes, Trekking Poles
The Mt. Waumbek hike begins at the end of Starr King Road. In the winter the trailhead parking lot is unplowed and there’s no parking along Starr King Road prior to the lot; in this case, there is a hiker parking lot prior to the junction of Route 2 and Star King Road (it’s on the right when heading east out of Jefferson village).
The Starr King Trail begins on an old logging road and then cuts through the woods onto another old road, where it passes the springhouse foundation shown here.
The early going features a gradual climb through a mostly-hardwood forest. The lack of any truly steep sections on this hike makes snowshoes or microspikes (depending on conditions) the preferred options for traction.
After 1.4 miles the hike angles left into the conifers along the western side of Starr King Mountain.
The summit of Mt. Starr King (3,907 feet) is reached 2.6 miles into the hike after 2,300 feet of elevation gain. Slight peek-a-boo views are available through the treetops here, but the highlight of the hike is what comes next.
From the summit, the Starr King Trail cuts down to a small clearing that formerly housed a cabin.
All that remains of the Starr King cabin is this stone and brick fireplace.
The old cabin site does feature a view of Mt. Washington and the presidential range.
A closer look at Mt. Washington.
After the fireplace clearing, the Starr King Trail traverses through a section of woods along a ridge for one mile to the Mt. Waumbek summit (4,006 feet). The winter hiking is relatively easy through here, dipping down into a col before regaining 250 feet of elevation gain just prior to the wooded Waumbek summit, its snow-covered cairn pictured here.
The summit of Mt. Waumbek also marks the end of the Starr King Trail and the beginning of the Kilkenny Ridge Trail, which covers 11 miles to Mt. Cabot.