The operative word there being your. You can certainly get a great…okay- better…view for less effort by taking the Aerial Tramway to the summit of Cannon Mountain ($15/ adult, $13/child and 5 & under free). On the tram you ascend about 2,000 ft in 8 minutes and your effort is minimal. All you need to do is walk in and out of the tram car! However, if you want to take a hike where your effort gets you the view then we have to talk about Artist’s Bluff.

Artist’s Bluff was, actually, among the first hikes I did when I arrived in the Notch.

On my first hike to Artist's Bluff!
On my first hike to Artist’s Bluff!

And, well, to be honest it surprised me! Artist’s Bluff is often talked about as an “easy” hike but mind you that’s on a White Mountains scale. Walking a mile and a half in Chicago (15 or so blocks of paved Midwestern flatness) is not the same! The trail is rocky but free of anything scramble-y or very steep. Note: the off chute which takes you up Bald Mountain (off the main loop path on the left) has few rock faces. Artist’s Bluff is 2,368 ft high and so some parts are indeed moderately to strenuously uphill. Much of it is quite moderate and it is relatively short (1.5 miles). The footing on the trail is good and the forest is beautiful. In addition, the majority of the hike is far enough from the road to feel and sound fully wild but still easy to get to from the highway. From the bluff you’ll have a great view of the Notch and maybe even our fall foliage.

A View of Fall Foliage
Fall foliage has not quite peaked yet! But it’s getting closer everyday. Image from

 Descend via the same short path to begin climbing down the rock stairs. The stairs can be a challenge…be careful. Take your time and watch your step. At the base of the hill take a right onto the “loop” trail. This trail is not indicated on maps but is well traveled and blazed with red. It’ll return you to the path you started on. Take a left and you are back to the parking lot. Hike safe. Hike smart. Enjoy your view and I hope to see you soon!

By Nicole Juppe, Interpretive Ranger at Franconia Notch State Park

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