Enjoying Mt. Washington
Five Ways to Enjoy the Summit
by Tim Ouellette
Staff Update: 5/16/16
I am a Mainer by choice, a transplant from Massachusetts at that, but I have always vacationed in New Hampshire. Some
of my earliest memories revolve around driving the Kancamagus Highway with my family and summer-time trips to Story
Land and Six Gun City, but nothing matches the grandeur and beauty of Mt. Washington.
Located within the White Mountain National Forest and a part of the Presidential Range, at 6,288 feet high
it is the tallest mountain in the northeast. Boasting some of the world's worst weather, Mt. Washington
has been a magnet for scientists, skiers, and hikers alike; but keep in mind, the weather on Mt. Washington
can change in a heartbeat, so visitors need to always be prepared. Please be sure to check current weather
conditions and always bring the proper gear.
Hike, Drive, or Ride the Cog!
Ok, so you've made it to Mt. Washington; now what do you want to do? There are many ways to enjoy Mt. Washington
(depending on time and the weather); I'd like to focus on three of the most popular ways to enjoy your mountain experience:
There are a number of hiking trails leading up toward the summit, each with varying degrees of difficulty; from
the Tuckerman's Ravine Trail to the Huntington Ravine Trail, Mt. Washington offers locals and tourists alike the
opportunity to experience the majesty of the mountain. For a comprehensive overview of the various trails and
their range of difficulty (hiking, skiing, climbing) please check out this article
For the hiker looking for the ultimate "Mt. Washington experience", taking advantage of the Appalachian Mountain
Club's network of mountain trail huts would be the way to go. The AMC huts offer visitors to Mt. Washington the
opportunity to rest and re-connect with family, friends, and fellow travelers. Please visit the AMC's website
at http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/whitemountains/huts/index.cfm for information on pricing and availability.
You'd like to visit the summit of Mt. Washington but you're not into hiking boots or crampons? If this is the case
then the Mt. Washington Auto Road might be for you. This 7.6 mile, 30 minute drive up Mt. Washington affords driver
and passenger alike spectacular views of the surrounding valley. There are certain vehicle limitations that must be
taken into consideration before planning your car trip up the mountain side; please visit the following page at the
Auto Road's website for a listing of vehicle limitations and safety considerations:
http://mtwashingtonautoroad.com/drive-yourself/vehicle-limits/. Keep in mind the Auto Road is closed during
the winter or when weather or road conditions are poor. Please click this link to view the Auto Road's
current operating schedule, special hours of operation, and guided tours.
Most importantly, don't forget your bumper sticker.
3. Riding the Cog Railway
Children and adults alike will appreciate this historic 3-mile train ride up the side of Mt. Washington. Billed as
the "steepest railroad tracks in North America", the Cog Railway has carried passengers to
the summit of Mt. Washington for over 130 years. Originally a steam-powered locomotive, the Cog Railway now has a more modern,
biodiesel engine; but visitors can choose which car to ride depending on the schedule. The steam locomotive runs almost daily; be sure to check out the current schedule and ticket pricing information at the Cog Railway's website.
Mt. Washington is beautiful and breathtaking; visiting New Hampshire to experience the majesty of the mountain should
be at the top of everyone's summer "to-do" list. So, gather your family or friends and head to the White Mountains:
we'll see you at the top.
4. Riding the Snowcoach
Have you ever wanted to join 8 other people, ride in a comfortable van with tank-like tracks instead of wheels, and take it through winter snow to elevations higher than many mountains? In NH you can! It's called the snowcoach and on weather permitting winter days you can ride it from the base of the mountain up to the treeline. The views are tremendous and the experience unique. Go with the whole gang!
This ride is quite popular and weather conditions often affect availability so do call ahead to make plans.
5. See Mt. Washington by Air
A welcome addition to our local attractions is Verticle Ventures, offering scenic helicopter flights based at Mount Washington Regional Airport in Whitefield but able to pick you up almost anywhere. Owner Colleen Chen has over 6,000 hours aloft and is a NH native. She'll take good care of you.
Emerson Aviation utilizing conventional aircraft based in Laconia can also offer you a bird's eye view of Mt. Washington. Contact them directly for more information.