New Hampshire’s Rock Profile: The Watcher aka Old Woman of the Notch

Old Woman of the Notch, Franconia Notch NH (aka The Watcher)

Old Woman of the Notch, Franconia Notch NH (aka The Watcher)

New Hampshire rocks are often like the clouds in its skies–if you stare at them long enough they start to look like something else.  She has been known by several names: The Watcher, the Old Woman of the Notch, the Maid of the Mountain, the Old Lady of the Mountain. She was born at the same time as her formerly famous counterpart, The Old Man of the Mountain.

She is smaller, and not quite so easy to see. There is no plaza, no parking lot in her vicinity. No famous statesman has ever uttered a pithy quotation about her. And so the Old Woman of the Notch languishes along with other rare natural rock profiles in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Eagle Cliff near Profile Lake, Franconia, New Hampshire

Eagle Cliff near Profile Lake, Franconia, New Hampshire

The Old Woman of the Notch, aka The Watcher, is an outcropping of Eagle Cliff (sometimes called Eagle Crag), that is in itself a shoulder of Mt. Lafayette [incorrectly attributed as Mt. Webster in some old books]. A 1955 edition of the Trenton Evening Times newspaper noted “she wears tall trees as a frazzled hair-do…” This rock profile faces east, and seems to be bent and looking down upon approaching visitors. It can be viewed “from a small clearing at the south end of Profile Lake” looking to the highest part of Eagle Cliff.

The Old Woman profile is not alone. An ancient guide book of 1876 describes several other rocks as follows, though I cannot seem to find out much more about them–The Infant, the Young Man, the Sentinel, the African Face, and the Grand-mother. Have they fallen, or been knocked over by rock enthusiasts? If you know the location, or have a photograph of any of these rare profiles, I hope my readers will share them here. The GORP guide to the White Mountains does not mention any from this list except the “Old Lady of the Mountain.”

“A short distance below the Gate of the Notch, and about 1/2 m. from the hotel, guide-boards are raised by the roadside, telling where to look on the adjacent cliffs to see the profiles of the Old Maid of the Mountain, the Infant, the Young Man, the Sentinel, the African Face, and the Grand-mother. The labor of hunting out these profiles, whether successful or otherwise, is doubtless a prolonged and valuable discipline of imagination. The Old Maid and the Infant are seen from nearly the same point, the former being on a spur of Mt. Webster [Mt. Lafayette], and the latter on the side of Pulpit Rock.”[The White Mountains: a handbook for travelers, by M.F. Sweetser 1876]

Here is a Video of The Old Woman Mile Marker 109, at Profile Lake

*Additional Reading about the Old Woman of the Notch*

1Happy Hiker: A Trek to South End of Eagle Cliff Ridge (great photos of the Old Woman from the south and the north)

Leave the World Below

RodNH with photographs

1932 photograph of the Watcher: Dartmouth College

This entry was posted in Boulders and Profiles, History, Humor, New Hampshire Women, Oddities, Accidents and Crazy Weather, Structures, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to New Hampshire’s Rock Profile: The Watcher aka Old Woman of the Notch

  1. heatherrojo says:

    My daughter used to go rock climbing on “Nixon’s Nose”, which is somewhere over near Dartmouth College in Hanover.

  2. Amy says:

    Did I read somewhere that they had repaired the Old Man of the Mountain? Or maybe that they tried?

  3. Karl Searl says:

    This a great post! I just wrote one yesterday on the Washington Boulder, which I found some info on when you wrote about the Ben Franklin Profile. I’m amazed at how many of these rock formation faces are in the Whites. The ones I know are the Old Man, the Old Lady, Washington (as of just a couple weeks ago), Ben Franklin (as of two days ago from your post), Imp Face and Indian Head. There’s also a fist on Mount Crawford which I missed when I was on the summit a couple years back. These things are awesome. Keep up the great work!


    • Janice Brown says:


      Thank you for your kind words, and for taking the time to comment on my profile rock story. I have several more rock formation stories lined up, just waiting for the perfect photo, or some last minute details. I always contact the local historical society to see if the rock is still there, and how would people see it, or if its on private land, etc. I have an Indian Head story coming up in a few weeks, already in the queue for publishing, so keep an eye out. You should have left a link to your story so I could read it!


  4. Pingback: New Hampshire Missing Places: The Old Man of the Mountain | Cow Hampshire

  5. Chris Whiton says:

    We always called the one in the video “The Old Man’s Dog”. Not sure if that was official, or just a name my dad (who worked for the state park) picked up.

  6. Jennifer Adams says:

    I have a 1926 photograph of “The Watcher” by A. Emery Phinney.
    On the back it says:
    Franconia Notch
    The Watcher
    A New Profile (new underlined)
    and Copyrighted
    by A. Emery Phinney
    Jackson NH

  7. Masha says:

    Anyone can give me some directions on how to get to the good viewing spot for Watcher?

  8. Peggy says:

    Hi Janice,
    My husband and Daughter (18) would like to hike to see The Watcher in a couple weeks. Is there anyone that would guide? We will be coming from Missouri. I will not be joining them as this hike looks like it is beyond my skills.
    Thank you for any help!

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