Mount Washington Summit: GREAT VIEWS and 3 Ways To Get There!

NH Recreation Articles: Getting to the Summit of Mt. Washington.

 



Enjoying Mt. Washington

Five Ways to Enjoy the Summit

by Tim Ouellette

Staff Update: 4/8/18




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, Fly, or Ride a Snow Coach or 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 the season, time and the weather:

1. Hiking

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 at summitpost.org.

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.

Would you feel better with a guide? Several are available, and most optionally offer overnight stays, including overnight the accommodations provided by the Mount Washington Observatory at their legendary summit weather station.
  • Eastern Mountain Sports Schools
  • International Mountain Climbing School
  • Mooney Mountain Guides
  • Synnott Mountain Guides
  • Need a little transportation help? Connect with Trail Angels Hiker Services. They provide services for hikers, snow shoers, canoers and kayakers alike YEAR ROUND in almost any weather and they are dog friendly.

    2. Driving

    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. If you are squeamish about heights, take the guided tour or the Cog!

    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.

    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.

    However you do it Mt. Washington is beautiful and breathtaking; visiting New Hampshire to experience the majesty of the mountains 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.

     

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