The Horn is one of the lesser known summits in New Hampshire's White Mountains. Although it is a technically easy climb, the approach hike offers solitude in a pristine subalpine spruce-birch forest and the summit itself offers spectacular vistas of the Presidential Range and the surrrounding Pilot Range. The trail toward the summit is well maintained and the last 100 feet or so is a relatively easy scramble. The Pilot range is located in the remote northern section of the White Mountain National Forest and receives few visitors --especially compared to the crowded peaks to their south. Climbing the Horn is particularly satisfying because it is so difficult to experience solitude on a summit in the White Mountains.
The easiest approach to The Horn is to access the Kilkenny Ridge Trail via the Unknown Pond Trail from either is north or south terminus. The shortest route is from the north trailhead. This can be reached by taking NH 110 just east of the village of Stark to Mill Brook Road. Take Mill Brook road south approx. 3.7 miles to a WMNF gate. Continue on foot another .8 miles and look for a trail sign on the left. Climb along this trail until you reach Unknown Pond (approx. 3.3 miles from the gate) and an intersection with the Kilkenny Ridge Trail at the Base of The Horn.
A White Mountain National Forest parking permit is required. They can be purchased at any WMNF Ranger Station s well as at the Appalachian Mountain Club's Pinkham Notch and Crawford Notch Visitor Centers. The gate on Mill Brook Road is generally closed during the winter and parking is limited to 3 or 4 vehicles.
When To Climb
Typically The Horn is climbed from April through October because the approach road is not maintained during the winter. Since the peak is not quite as high as the nearby Presidentials it does not usually present with the extreme conditions for which its southern neighbors are infamous.
Camping is allowed anywhere 200 feet away from designated trails, roads and bodies of water. There are a number of isolated tentsites and a pit toilet manitained by the WMNF at Unknown Pond at the base of the Mountain. There are no fees other than the required WMNF parking permit.
The Appalachian Mountain Club: www.outdors.org offers a trail conditions bulliten board that generally has up to date information and participants are generally helpful. The AMC Pinkham Notch Visitors Center can also generally provide reliable information: (603) 466-2721