Mount Jefferson via Caps Ridge Trail is a 4.6 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Twin Mountain, NH that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from March until November.
This is the highest trailhead in the White Mountains at 3,008 feet and also is the shortest with the least amount of elevation gain of any of the Presidentials. This trailhead is in Jefferson Notch at the highest point in the Notch. From Rte. 302 near Bretton Woods follow the Base Station Road which heads to the Cog Railroad up Mt. Washington. Several miles down this road you will come to a 4 way intersection with Mt. Clinton Road to the South. Take the left onto the Jefferson Notch Road which is closed in the winter and early spring. Follow this for a couple miles keeping an eye out for the Caps Ridge Trailhead at the highest point in the Notch
This was my first 4k and it's a heckuva way to start! There was a fair amount of snow on the ground when we hiked it and it was a relatively warm day, so it got a little slippery as the day progressed. Decided to abort when we got to the rock scrambling above the tree line. We'd done rock scrambling before (but not in the Whites) without problem but that first big scramble left you feeling like one slip and you're tumbling on down the mountain. That combined with high wind and slippery snow, which also led to uncertain footing, led us to reluctantly abort.
The hike was beautiful and manageable, with amazing views, up until the scramble above the tree line, which is not for the faint of heart or on a wet day. Found out later this trail is rated as one of the 25 or so most difficult trails in the Whites. What a way to start! We went big AND went home - a little disappointed but a lot wiser!
This is a nice trail for a dry day. I had rain as sleet wich makes for a slow decent. One of a couple trails in the area to stay off in bad weather but we'll worth it on a good day.
Climbed on Sep 221, 2016. Excellent weather, spectacular views. On the way down, strong wind, could not wait to reach the treeline. The descent is not much easier than the ascent and kind of more dangerous. At times had to use hands.
Great trail with plenty of fantastic views of the entire white mountain forest, especially the presidential range. Som scrambling up rocks and a lot of bad footing heading for summit. Very exposed, and if its wet id try something else.
Awesome hike!! From the lot off Jefferson notch road it took us about 2.5 hours to summit. 1st 45 mins or so you are in tree cover. Great views from that point on. 4 good rock spots. Some climbing or you can find a path to avoid most. Some hard work in the last hour up. Views are unreal from top. Mt Washington summit is about 3 miles but looks so close. Cruised down in about 2 hours. Overall we were on the trial at 6:50am and back in the truck before noon and we didn't push to hard!
Awesome trail, huge rocks to climb over, best route to the summit
Absolutely spectacular trail, particularly when the weather is on your side. I don't hike often, but when I do, I want to make it count; let me tell you... this one counted. I tackled this trail just about 4 years ago, and I can remember just about every part. From the trailhead's beginning up until it breaks free of the tree line, the particular type of forest landscape is (for me, at least...) surreal. Looks and feels like something straight out of a fairy tale or The Lord of the Rings. When you get above the tree line, you soon realize that you're surrounded by phenomenal views of the Presidentials and the valley far below... It makes a perfect setting for the scrambling that you'll be doing all the rest of the way to the summit. Though this was my first experience with rock scrambling, that challenge combined with the unique feel of the White Mountain's wilderness, made the ascent a true treat - the time passes quickly while at the same time seeming to stand still... It's an odd way to describe it, but it's the only way that I know how...
We descended via the Castle Ridge Trail and The Link - a route which I recommend to those who found themselves thoroughly enjoying the challenge of the Caps Ridge ascent. The views on the way down rival those found on the way up. How close Castle Ridge brings us to several sheer drops really made us reflect on nature and our place in it, along with an accompanying sense of gratitude for being able to experience it. It turned out that
The Link was the leg of our trip that required the most vigilance... Even if it hasn't rained in days, you best plan on losing your footing at LEAST several times, and if it has recently rained, you might as well bring pads and a helmet (or perhaps... CHOOSE A DIFFERENT ROUTE FOR YOUR DESCENT!). I got the sense of being swallowed up by the forest, a feeling unlike any of the others that have befallen me while experiencing Mother Nature - totally unique, and one that I find myself craving every so often ever since.
These three trails shape up to make one heck of a route with settings so varied and unique that I've yet to come across another quite like it.
awesome thanks for such a great application
Gorgeous views. Bouldering was a bit tough on the knees but hike was awesome!!!
Absolutely gorgeous views for most of the hike which is good motivation because after you get above the tree line this hike turns into a brutal assault of rock scramble after rock scramble. Some places offer some rather sketchy footing with jagged rocks and steep drops. Wind can be a factor as well. This is not for the faint of heart or weak of leg.
If you're looking for a short but challenging hike that pays well in scenic beauty, look no further.
Although a short hike mileage wise, this is not a hike for someone just starting out. A short tree covered warm up starts the ascent. As I came above tree line I was given my first view, still sunny and pleasant temps. After this the real fun began. Lots of rock scrambling and "hoisting". If I remember correctly, once I got to the link Cornice off this ridge was completely exposed. At this point the wind gusts became relentless with biting wind chills. At many points I could hardly stand. A couple times I contemplated turning back, it seemed like the longest 0.4 miles ever! Once at the summit the wind gusts and freezing temps continued, so unfortunately I didn't spend much time exploring the summit. I also noticed that big clouds were quickly coming in. Although the ascent was sunny and clear, going down was cloudy and snowy. The summits in the Whites prove to be quite unpredictable, and today was one of those days.
Stunning views! I love the white mountains and how every peak seems to have it's own personality to it. This was not my favorite in terms of relaxing spots to sit at peak, but for these views and the fun of climbing up here... Well worth it. It is strenuous, and you do have some rock climbing to do (similar to flume slide trail in spots). Great times!
So unbelievably strenuous and scary at points but worth all the effort put in. First part up before you get to the "caps" is pretty easy and a good warm up, most of your time and effort will be needed once you get above the tree line and encounter the almost vertical ledges and the rock fields after that to the summit. If you're scared of heights, I don't recommend this trail. You need to be somewhat experienced in hiking, especially the whites... There were parts where you'll have to pull yourself up sheer rock with a 3000 foot cliff on your backside, which for me was scarier on the way down. I would say this is the best hiking experience I've had yet, both mentally and physically demanding with one of the best views I've had the pleasure of witnessing.
I have gone up this route to go to Mt. Washington many times and each time has been glorious! It is one the fastest ways to get above tree line and once you get to Monticello Lawn you can see forever if it is clear. I attached some photos from a winter ascent where we rose above the clouds for a glorious undercast.
I had my 6 and 8 year old with me and we had to dig deep. First time they were even above tree line. We completed about 3/4 of the hike to Mt. Jefferson summit before turning back. Steady uphill with scrambling up steep rocky portions. Great hike for views.
We took this trail to the summit of Mt Jefferson a few years ago. Lots of climbing using the trees and exposed roots to get up the trail. Once on the summit the views are beautiful and an easier trek across the AT to the Mt Washington summit.