Estimated Time: 3-4.5 hrs roundtrip
Distance: 3.4 miles roundtrip
Mt. Crescent makes an excellent destination for those looking for a slightly more difficult half day hike. With over 1200 feet of elevation gain in 1.7 miles, Mt. Crescent ranks as one of the more difficult “Moderate Hikes” reviewed on this website. That being said, it is still a great choice for kids who have some experience hiking and offers wonderful views.
Recently a new parking lot was made for Mt. Crescent. It is much larger than the previous one, and cuts off a bit of the trail. To get there, simply follow Randolph Hill Rd. all the way to the end. There is plenty of parking and the lot is plowed all year round. The Mt. Crescent Trail is marked with orange blazes and leaves the parking lot from the northwest corner where it crosses the logging road and heads in to the forest.
Right from the beginning the trail starts to climb up. After a little ways it reaches a junction with the Cook Path on the right and then continues to the left to the junction with the Castle View Loop. Here you can take a short detour to Castle View Rock, which can be found by following the signs down a spur trail from the main Castle View Loop Trail. Castle View Rock is a large boulder that can be climbed on for views of the Northern Presidentials. For younger children or those seeking a shorter hike, this can make for a nice destination and can even be turned into a loop by following the Castle View Loop over to the Carlton Notch Trail.
After the junction with the Castle View Loop, the Mt. Crescent Trail levels out slightly as it travels through a more open patch of forest. It then climbs briefly before reaching the junction with the Crescent Ridge Trail. Both the Crescent Ridge Trail and the Mt. Crescent Trail lead to the summit of Mt. Crescent, which is 0.6 miles from this junction. The Mt. Crescent Trail is slightly more challenging as it climbs over some slabby ledges just before reaching the summit. The Crescent Ridge Trail wraps around the mountain to the east, before climbing somewhat steeply to the summit. The trails can be combined to make a loop, in which case going up the Mt. Crescent Trail and down the Crescent Ridge Trail would be preferable.
While the summit of Mt. Crescent is somewhat unremarkable, there are excellent views both north towards the Kilkenny Range and south towards Mt. Madison, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Jefferson. Both view points are clearly marked with signage.