West Rattlesnake Mountain and its trails are part of a natural area owned by the University of New Hampshire and maintained by the Squam Lakes Conservation Society. There is a large parking lot with additional parking across the road, but be sure to pay attention to signs and only park where permitted. The Old Bridle Path is the main route to the top with a mix of flat and gradual grades among hemlock, beech, oak, and pine forest.
At only 2 miles round trip with 450 feet of elevation gain, West Rattlesnake Mountain’s rock outcrops provide a big reward for beginners, families, and anyone looking for a short hike with an incredible view. The rocks provide plenty of space to spread out and a panoramic, close-up look at Squam Lake and the surrounding area. Notice a shift in the types of trees around you at this point, where more red pine, red oak, and staghorn sumac dominate the forest foliage. There is even a rare herb growing near the viewpoint, Douglas’ knotweed, which is only found in a few places in New Hampshire.
When exploring the outcrop and taking in the view, walking and sitting on the bare rock can help protect the vegetation growing in this area. This viewpoint is a few hundred yards below the true summit, and anyone wishing to extend the hike can continue over the ridge to East Rattlesnake Mountain or down to Five Finger Point.