Mt. Washington

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Mt. Washington
Drive 85-110 miles, depending on trail choice
Hike 8.4-15 miles, depending on trail choice
Difficulty Strenuous

This page is currently under construction. Any help would be appreciated!

Driving Directions

Take 91 North from Hanover. One can choose to take the exit towards Barnet and NH 135, joining I-93 right before Littleton, or (simpler) take I-93. Take exit 40 to Rte. 302 and Bethlehem; continue driving until (from West) Cog Railway sign (note: closed in winter) or until NH 16 N, until Pinkham Notch.

Hiking Directions

There are a bunch of different trails.

From the west: Both main trails start from the same parking lot just beneath the cog railway. Well-marked. About 6-mile ski in in winter.

Jewell Trail Cross the road across from parking lot. Mostly flat at first as several drainages are crossed. Steep, stepped ascent up ridge. Treeline is early (~3700 ft.) and very exposed. Trail is in good condition, if rocky. Meets with Gulfside trail @ 5400 ft, right below Clay. Turn right and march up the summit cone, about 1.2 miles, 900 feet. Quite exposed.

Ammunoosuc Ravine Trail Start from parking lot. Follows river, mostly flat, for a while. Suddenly gets incredibly steep—occasional slippery scrambles. Not recommended for downward travel. Beautiful. Pops out at Lake of the Clouds hut. Cross in front of hut and take Crawford trail to summit; 1.7 miles, 1200 ft. Rocky, exposed, quite steep.

From the east A vast network branches out from the Pinkham Notch. Nelson Crag trail and Lion's Head are rather direct. Lion's Head is best for winter hiking. The ravine trails (esp. Huntington) are filled with class 4 and are not to be done in inclement weather.

Advice & Anecdotes

Winter advice

Winter travel on Washington is dangerous. Over 130 people have died on the mountain since the 1800s. If you are to travel up Washington in the winter, be prepared. If you are not, you might get lucky.

You also might not.

Over two-thirds of the days have hurricane-level gusts in the winter. Daylight is short. Temperatures hover near zero and can plunge to forty below. Windchills approach Antarctic levels. Visibility can be less than ten feet. Snow persists until June, and the summit plateau can be a flat sweep of ice. Crampons and ice picks—and knowledge of how to use them (including self-arrest) are necessary. Complete coverage of skin is necessary. Wear ski goggles. Frostbite can happen in five minutes. It is easy to become lost and confused. Once above treeline, there is no shelter until the summit. And even that is simply huddling outside the summit buildings.

It is possible, and very rewarding to summit. Stay in Billings the night before, get up early, and be ready to turn back. Pay attention to everyone in the group. Be safe, and you'll have fun (even if it is Type 2).

Portage Information

Usually done during summer term, portage entails hiking up Mt Washington with a canoe. There is a lovely puddle of water at the Lakes of the Clouds AMC hut to paddle around in so don't forget to bring paddles!

Suggested hiking route: Begin at Base Parking lot. Hike Ammonoosuc ravine trail to Lakes of the Clouds AMC hut, continued up Crawford path to Mt. Washington summit. Return via the same route.


Base Road to Lakes of the Clouds-- ~4 hrs

Canoeing and lunch break-- ~1.5 hrs

Lakes of the Clouds to Summit-- ~1 hr

Summit to Base Road-- ~3 hrs

Planning Logistics

Canoe--rented the single canoe from Ledyard for $25. Fits into the aisle of the microbus for the drive up and back. Hike with the canoe to summit. Can either hike down with the canoe or have somebody drive the canoe down from the summit. (14X Jesse Reib drove the canoe back down from the summit on the roof of his car). DOC has ratchet straps and rope for this purpose. Check to make sure the vehicle to carry the canoe is allowed on the Mt Washington access road!! Also bring two paddles.

Hiking with the canoe

We found that carrying the canoe with two people holding it on their shoulders and one person trailing with a hand on the stern for support ​was the safest and most effective mode of transportation. When we reached steep sections or stream crossings we passed the canoe from person to person. Early on we had one tripee fall on the canoe and chip his tooth due to slippery rocks. We also found it easiest to keep the canoe in the middle of the group such that there would be people in position ready to pass the canoe over steep patches of rock.

Future suggestions

- Stay at the lodge or at a cabin the night before the hike to get on trail by 8am. (We were very close to losing daylight at the end)

- Bring a towel and extra layers if people plan to swim in the lakes

- The summit isn't very exciting and you don't need to spend much time up there after being at the lakes

- Possibly arrange for car rides for entire group from summit to cut out the 3 hour decent. (The ascent with the canoe is really the fun part)

Trip Reports


Group: 9. Krystyna Oszkinis (Heeler), Matt Pickart (Co-Leader). Trippees:Laura Bergsten, Patrick Campbell, Sasha Dudding, Joey Gabianelli, Peter Governali, Eliza Huntington, Rebecca Leong

Weather: Unseasonably warm, very clear skies allowing for great visibility. Windy aprroaching the summit. Overall superb.

Route: Begin at Pinkham Notch, ascend up Tuckerman’s Ravine Trail leading to Lion’s Head trail to the summit, returning on Boott Spur. To get to Boott Spur trail from the summit, take the Crawford Path down to Davis Path, which will lead to Boott Spur.

Time: 4.5 hrs ascending.

Notes: Tuckerman's Trail is considered the easiest way to summit Mt. Washington from Pinkham Notch, but also more crowded. Turning off onto Lion's Head trail means a rockier, more rugged path to the summit, but is a great alternative to the high traffic of Tuckerman's Ravine Trail. Stopping at Lion Head for lunch is a great way to appreciate the exquisite view before reaching the tourist hub at the summit. Though crowded, the famous summit provides a welcome rest and convenient water refill station. Gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains and the dramatic growing shadows on the ravines can be taken in for much of the descent. On warm days, a quick dip in a cool mountain stream near the end of the trail is great for tired legs after the steep last 1000 ft of (sometimes slippery!) descent along Boott's Spur.

12/12/2011 (Wheatstarch)

Leaders: Charlie Governali '12, Jeremy Brouillet '13, Kyle Heppenstall '13. Group: 15 (broken into three small groups for ascent) Overview: Lake of the Clouds, Mt. Monroe, and Mt. Washington via the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail. - Cog Road snowy + icy. Parked sprinter + bus in Mr. Drummond’s Ski Shop lot across from gas station (after asking them). Shuttled 3 groups to cog base lot in Charlie’s car (4W0, snow tires) 10-15 mins each way. - Left Molly (hurting) + Eliza in Tent [intentionally, as safety base camp] w/ extra bags, stove, food, phones, etc. @ waterfall at base of steep grade (on Ammo Ravine Trail). Trail Notes • up to “Base Camp”: one washout w/ new trail work fine, just be careful; trail packed down, ~6 in. snow on side • ascent to waterfall overlook side-trail: steep, microspikes useful but not used by all; substantial icy patches • waterfall side-trail to treeline (no wind): icy, ledgy stream crossings (not exposed); doable but challenging in microspikes • Treeline to LOC: very light breeze, sunny, light snow, some slippery walking Kyle (ascent to LOC) • 7:15am: Group of 6 leaving for trailhead at 7:15 (predicted slow group) • dropped 2 at base camp around 8:00 • LOC @11:15 microspikes essential for us, going slowly was necessary for safety – needed poles • Summited Monroe @11:45 clear, 15-20 mph winds, 6-12 in snow – wore many layers • Joined other groups for lunch, bivy sack from 12:30 – 1:15 (nap) – back to base cale at 2:30 – hung out • Needed overmittens and puffy for this group Trippees: (up) Colin, Brian, Amy; (left at tent) Molly, Liza; (down) Amy, Brian
#: ~3 Jeremy (ascent to LOC) • Arrival 50 minutes after 1st group to Cog Road • Double checked gear, got driven up • Steady pace to tent, hung out a bit, left up trail at 9:30 • Took time on steep uphill, everyone had microspikes, stopped at waterfall 1/3 of the way up • Got to top and joined other groups for lunch. On descent, returned to cog-Station staggered at 4:00 to 4:30. Charlie (ascent to LOC) – “fast group” • left cog parking lot @ 08:53 • left tent @ ~09:45 • arrived @ LOC (w/o checking waterfall) @~11 Trippees: Jen, Joey, Krystyna, David CS, Lexi Charlie and Jeremy (ascent from LOC to the summit) - Departed our lunch spot at the side of the lower lake with 12 people at 1200. Trail Conditions above treeline: 6-12 inches of snow on rocks; sunny, NO wind, NO clouds in sight to the West, a few distant clouds to the SE. Approx. 35ºF. Gorgeous, *very exceptional* day on the Presis! We arrived at the summit at around 1315, took some obligatory photos with the summit sign, gazed over the northern Presis from the observation deck... the visibility was extremely good - >120 mile visibility in all directions. Met Rich (Rich Palatino, Harvard Cabin Caretaker, and his friend Max at the summit. They got a kick out of taking summit photos for us. Finally, we started the descent. Views and weather remained stunning. Passing LOC we were a group of 12. Further down the trail, 7 stopped to check out the waterfall while the other 5 continued. The last group reached the parking lot around 1630-1645. Gear Used: included goggles, sunglasses, zero-degree bags (for the people who stayed in the tent), hiking poles, bivuoac bags (for lunchtime!), sleeping pads (to keep people off the snow for lunch, overmitts, mountaineering boots (only some group members; others had winter hiking boots), down jackets.

12/09/2011 (Wheatstarch) Leader: Wales Carter '13

Route: Tuckerman's Ravine Sightseeing - Pinkham Notch Visitor Center to Hermit Lake and back via the Tuckerman's Ravine Trail.

Trippees: 9 - David Rice, Max Diebel, Lexi Krupp, Andi Liebowitz, Amy Bray, Claire Pendergrast, Brian Giunta, Colin Walmsley Cloudy at higher elevations, some wind, snow flurries. Several inches of snow on the ground at higher elevations; ice below in places, and snow often windblown. Left trailhead at approximately 9:30, made reasonable time. Trail very well defined and easy going. Took several steps. One person felt nauseous and another's ankle hurt a bit - they decided to stay below at 11:23. Made it Hermit Lake approximately at noon. Poked around a bit and then returned. Caught up with lower group somewhat below where we left them--they had started moving down because they were cold. Some views were had into the Ravine, but moving clouds. Returned to trailhead by 2:45. Only special gear used was microspikes. Some people used them, but mostly for reassurance, not by strict necessity. Drove the microbus. :) Trail about 3.3 miles each way?

02/09/2012 (Private Trip)

See the link below: TR: 02/09/2012 Hiking and skiing on Mt. Washington