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We did this trail North to South with three nights used camping outdoors below the treeline. If you're coming down from Canada, or from far away, starting at the North and using the free camping site not too far from Mt Madison is a good option. You will suffer the first day regardless getting up past the treeline into the mountain range but it will be worth it.

Q: Which mountains should I do?
A: Is it extremely cloudy? Then you should just stay to the path. If not then Mt Madison has the best overall view of the North to South range and you can even see Mt Washington on a good day. Mt Adams is a pile of rocks (I would skip), Mt Jefferson is a yes on a clear day, Mt Clay is a nice windy spot to relax before you climb up Mt Washington, anything past Mt Washington is really dependent on how quickly you need to get back to a shuttle/car (Eisenhower has a pile of rocks on top... up to you).

You cannot reserve a shuttle seat the day of. You must book in advance or wait around in line to be sure to get a spot. Do not rely on taxi services as they are far and few.

Gearwise you should expect wind, rain and sun with the change dependent on the time of the year you go. If you are hiking in the summer expect a neckburn if you don't wear sunscreen or a hat during the peak sun hours. There are streams that I would risk not filtering before drinking but there are larger stretches after Mt Washington that have still water that need more than just tablets to make it consumable. Hiking poles are not needed but shoes with proper ankle support are. You will be on very rocky terrain once you're above the treeline and you could easily roll or strain something without proper footwear.

Please double layer socks in your shoes. Blisters out here will suck. Thin layer first then a thick wool sock so that you don't have as much friction with your shoes leading to blisters.

The cabins take credit cards. If you want to stay in them go for it but you aren't exactly roughing it. Sometimes if you arrive there off usually eating times they'll have free food to eat or coffee to drink. They also will let you fill up on water there.

Parking is 5USD a day at the centre (South). I would recommend dropping people off at the North trailhead, driving to the centre/parking and then taking the shuttle to regroup. This will allow you to come out of the trail right beside the parking lot on your last day.

We did it in 2 days, 53km (we went the wrong way for 5km ). Very nice hike but not that easy as we did a lot of km each day. Views on the 7 summits are breathtaking. Don’t worry for the water, there’s a lot of place to refill all the way to Galehead Shelter. Make sure to have enough water at this point because the next water supply is on the way down. So you must have at least 2L from galehead to the end of the hike ( if you do it in 2 days ). Many campsite are available all the way. Make sure to not have to much weight in your backpack and hike sticks. For the rest, you must be in shape to do this trail. Definitely recommend.

From Tripoli Road to Osceola Summit and back to Tripoli Rd. Parking lot. Started early at 7 am and were back at the car just before noon. Great hike. Like others have said watch footing because there are many rocks in the first half of the hike up. The rest of the way was slick wet rock. Awesome view at the top. Highly recommend for anyone looking for another crazy but still fun. Good for family hike.

hiking
6 days ago

I did from the Tripoli road out to East Osceola and back. I’m almost halfway with my NH 48, and would say this was (sorry for some) one of my easier hikes. Out to Osceola itself was pretty tame, although not fast. You have to pick your way among the rocks for footing. East Osceola was a fun trek, with some steeper sections including the chimney. There were some muddy pieces, but nothing you can’t pick through. I have a short steady stride, but still made it in about 5.5 hours total. Views were nice, but I hike for the work out. Not bad for a 4000 footer!

hiking
6 days ago

This trail starts off super easy before the north-south split. I went south as suggested, but it seemed like everyone I met along the way was descending south. South was a difficult ascent with lots of boulders and trees. The trail between the two was decent, but if you go south to north be prepared to climb again! South decent was miserable. I don't use poles, so it was basically a shale slide with trees to cling to like George of the Jungle. Honestly, either side would've been a miserable decent. The whole loop took me 6 and a half hours, with a 30 minute break at each peak and numerous stops on the way up South, for panting and whining.

The trail is beautiful yet pretty muddy since it rained the day before. The first part of the trail is very flat but then there's a short, hard steep to the top. At both peaks there was a lookout which provided some great views. The trail was pretty busy but overall a fun hike :)

Omg the views are gorgeous but this trail is very hard. I’m never doing this trail again. Loved it but hated it

on Hancock Loop Trail

hiking
9 days ago

Hiked the Hancocks after a downpour. Muddy, lots of stream crossings, but a fun hike. Mostly flat until the very last mile. When you see the sign for South Peak, 0.5 miles, it's time to work and sweat! Good views but crowded. Would suggest going up south peak and down north as others have said on here but it's pretty comparable.

Our group of 4, Nav, Jimmy, Ragz, and me (Rich) had a blast. 2 day trip, 20 mi. The Appalacia lot start at 4.30 am to beat the afternoon rain paid off. Madison by 8am, Leftover pancakes at Madison hut and a bathroom! Adams by 9.30, Lunch at 10.45, Jefferson by 12.30, Washington by 2pm, and at the LOC hut by 3 as it started to rain.
I do not prefer poles ever. My partners do, but there is rocks, boulders, and more rocks so use rubber tips on your poles. There is a lot of hand over hand climbing over boulders where you will have to tuck away your poles.
Adams was the toughest climb. And we made good speed on the Gulfside trail near the cog.
LoC hut is fabulous, great food and comfort, and i bought my new favorite t-shirt. I used mycoal x-large hand warmers to dry out my boots overnight. Coffee and breakfast is ready at 7, i wish it was earlier. They have a new septic system this year that filters human waste very well, so the water you drink today is someone's pee from yesterday! no joke. The hutsmen and hutswomen are super, tip them a $10 or even more. They like $20, as you will find out from Jack and Rose.
Monroe, Eisenhower and Peirce is a walk in the park compared to day1, lots of downhill, back to the Highland Center. Enjoy a beer and dinner when you get there. I will do the Presi again someday.
-Rich

Had a scary moose encounter before sunrise that made us have to turnaround and walk back to the car, luckily we had just started. Once we waited about 10min we restarted and no further encounters. Hike was ok, going up the North Slide and down the South Slide was a good call. Both suck in their own unique way and we were thankful to have dry conditions. I would not want to do either after or during any rain. It is just frustrating because a lot of it is loose gravel and shocking to see some of these huge rocks be equally unreliable. Not the worse hike but glad to have crossed them off.

hiking
13 days ago

Finally did the commonly dreaded Owl's Head. While it did live up to its name of being a least favorite, it wasn't completely terrible. Would I do it again? Probably not. The water crossings were fun, the water level was high enough to not completely rock hop through. We didn't stay long at the summit thanks to mass amount of flies. The rock slide was challenging both ways but doable especially in dry conditions which we were fortunate enough to experience.

hiking
14 days ago

This was NH 4K footer summit number 47 for me. For the most part I really enjoyed it. You definitely see fewer people during the late stages of this very long trail than most of the other 4Kers. So if you're looking for peace and serenity, you'll get it here. I hiked on 07/29/2018 and here are some very important things of note if you're thinking of doing Owl's Head soon: About 1 mile and 1.5 miles into Lincoln Brook Trail, there are big river crossings that DO NOT have obvious dry ways across. I searched up and down river for 15-20 minutes looking for rock steps to no avail so eventually I just decided to wade across with my hiking shoes on. The water came up about thigh-high. Obviously my shoes got drenched but having wet feet and shoes for the remainder of the hike in warm weather seemed less risky than attempting to leap from rocks that were simply too far apart for comfort. Or wading across barefoot. So just be prepared for this. It's far enough into the hike you won't want to turn back, esp. if you're attempting to check off all 48 4Kers. Other than that, yes the last mile is brutal. Just brutal. Very steep grade along loose, wet rocks and mud. Silver lining is that about a third of the way into this last mile, you do get some amazing views. I altered my "beer at the summit" routine and had one at this spot on the way down after reaching the summit. Be prepared and have fun!

Good hike. Pretty difficult to start. Steep - climbing almost 2,000 feet within a mile, but in a stair-master kind of way. The river and waterfalls are along side you this whole time, so it's not too bad.

Afterwards, you're trekking in the trees with sporadic views, up until the last 500 ft of the hike where you get a nice 360.

Careful going down. Expect it to take you about the same amount of time as going up.

There are beautiful views of the waterfalls on this trail. The rocks and stairs do get extremely slippery so I would recommend bringing hiking poles to help keep your balance. I don't normally hike with poles but figured I might need them on this trail and I don't think I would've made it down in one piece without them. Going down does take much longer than going up so make sure you factor that into your hike time. Overall it's a great challenging hike to a gorgeous summit.

The scrambles up and down are a lot of fun but pretty strenuous! The views are gorgeous while hiking the slides but the top provides limited views. After the long flat section in the beginning the trail is slightly overgrown before hitting the slide - be aware, I got some poison ivy likely from this hike. :)

hiking
20 days ago

hiking
21 days ago

Mount Osceola was my second 4000-footer in the Whites. Hiked in from the Kancamagus Hwy. The first 1.2 mile was through the Greely Pond area and was basically flat. The next 1.5 mile to the top of East Osceola was grueling and offered few views. The next mile to the top of Mount Osceola was pretty easy and offered a stunning 180 degree view.

first things first. The 4000 Footers. Com website needs to update their notes to indicate the access road is not open. this will add a boring 4 mile dust walk to your hike.
Trail is easy to moderate but just watch for the turns as the trail is not marked. we took the wrong turn at the fork about a mile and a half in. just head down about another couple hundred yards and the turn is marked. Ridge and Summit views are probably some of the best in the Northeast so well worth the hike just probably would not do it again due to the access road closure.

I don't really even know where to start with this review - the Presidential Traverse is one of the most personally fulfilling, yet physically taxing, treks in New Hampshire, New England, and perhaps the country. Offering some of the most expansive views in the East, this trail saddles along some of the White Mountains' tallest peaks and consistently stays above tree-line. If you're considering doing this, you're in for an adventure - but some things to be aware of (in addition to what Dane wrote below):

1. Physical Demand. If you summit every mountain along the way, your trip will yield a total elevation gain of nearly 10,000 vertical feet. This is roughly 1/3 the height of Everest over the course of one-to-two days. Combined between these gains and the significant long-distance mileage, this traverse easily ranks as very strenuous and should not be attempted -- especially in one day -- unless you're in proper physical shape. It was a hell of a workout, but if I could do it again, I'd split it into two days. Bring tons of water, sport drinks, and high-calorie snacks and take frequent breaks.

2. Equipment, Attire, and Weather. You'll be above treeline for the grand majority of this trip. While this offers the chance to take-in some incredible views, it also exposes you to the elements -- often with no easy cover. The weather in the Whites is very unpredictable, and it's important to be prepared for anything, even in the summer. Bring rain attire, thermal layers, gloves, and sunscreen. If weather looks like it's going to turn sour, get under treeline or to shelter. Hiking poles and solid footware are highly recommended, as this trail is very rocky and it's easy to trip/fall.

3. Transportation. Read the review below. If you have multiple cars available, have one parked near AMC Highland Center @ Crawford Notch (end point -- Crawford Connector Trail has a parking lot and is a good option) and then have one bring you to Appalacia, where you can start (Valley Way Trail is my recommendation). If traveling solo, park at Crawford and have a service drive you to Appalacia so you end at your car. As Dane mentioned below, Bill is the man and couldn't have been more thankful for picking me up in the early hours of my day ($100+tip). I started at 2:15a and finished somewhere around 6p.

The trail is very well-traveled and marked. Make sure you have a map before starting, and have evac routes planned in case you need them. Enjoy the ride -- the day I went ended up being clear and, for the first time ever in the Whites, without wind or precipitation (despite how it looked early on). Can't recommend this trail enough.

hiking
25 days ago

One of the most difficult and most interesting adventures I’ve done in the Whites. I decided to tackle this peak is part of my NE Hundred Highest, and from what I heard it was going to be suffer fest. I found it wasn’t as bad or unrewarding as I was told it would be. You begin with Lincoln Woods, which is very wide and pretty well trafficked, with plenty of signage. After the split for Franconia Falls, there is a big bridge into the wilderness. From here there are no bridges, no blazes and no trace of humans aside from the trail. You have to negotiate many river crossings, most of which would be very difficult in high water. As of 7/19/2018 the water is quite low and you can easily rock hop. The path is very lightly trafficked and very peaceful. The beginning of the Owls Head slide has almost no indicators aside from a small “fence” made from trees. I’d suggest using the AllTrails tracker. The slide climbs very steeply up loose rock before connecting to the obvious herd path. The slide has great views of Franconia Ridge. There is no official trail to the summit but the route is very obvious, there’s one clearing where the summit was previously thought to be, continue past this clearing to the left to the true summit, which has a clearing and a cairn as well as a large fallen tree. From there, go back the way you came. If you don’t want to go down the slide, you can always take the Brutus Bushwhack down, which is a herd path that goes around the slide. This herd path is harder to follow, in fact I lost it for a while and had to search for it by following a topo line on my tracker until I hit it again. This hike would be hellish for a leisure hiker. But if you’re an adventurous hiker who finds pleasure in being deep in the wilderness, bushwhacks and scrambling. This is the perfect hike for you. Definitely one of the most remote and difficult peaks in the Whites.

hiking
27 days ago

This trail from the Kanc is incredibly difficult. Very very steep rocks the entire way. A cool rockslide halfway up is a great break to cool off your burnt out legs. The wooded summit you hit first is still cool, a small lookout gives a little view. The trail to the second is fun, especially the famed chimney section. Views from the summit are absolutely incredible. Trip down is almost worse. The amount of rocks and boulders make it very tough to descend. No wonder why there aren’t many hikers on the trail. Great mountain, but ascend from Tripoli road.

27 days ago

Miles are off from what we tracked. This was a fun hike with lots of different adventures along the way. A little bit of everything, streams, rain, wildlife, rock climb, scramble, and lots of beautiful trees, bridges, and camp sites.

Really fun hike, it was definitely some work to get up whiteface , agree with the hard rating, but more fun than hard. Really enjoyed this loop to bring me 1/2 way to 48!

Amazing doing it for a second time this year

hiking
30 days ago

Was not an easy hike by any means. Accessed the Willey ridge trail from the Ethan Pond Trail. Like previous reviews the last scramble all 1.1 miles seemed to never end. If only we hadn’t been socked in the clouds today, then maybe the strenuous climb would have felt better. Despite my frustration with the challenge I feel accomplished and tried my best to enjoy the climb. This is a climb for those who are ready for a challenge!!

Very mild until the steep .7 up the north. It is steep but there’s no rock scrambling or anything that exciting. The woods between the 2 peaks are nice. Nothing to rush back for but it’s checked off the to-do list

Was expecting a very steep, rugged trail but it wasn’t nearly as steep or rugged as I anticipated. Pretty straight-shot climb. Short as far as 4000 footers go but still a nice hike. No views but the clearing and extremely large cairn at the summit gives the mountain its own character. Couple easy stream crossings of Hale Brook. Great day.

Many folks don't like the long approach (1450' in 8 miles) or the slide (1450' in 8/10 of a mile!), or the fact that the summit is wooded and affords very little view. I consider this a nature hike. If you take your time, and pay attention, you'll see a lot of wildlife. The day of my hike, I was lucky enough to get a great shot of a pine marten at the summit area, and a beautiful, healthy moose near Black Pond (see photos). If you're looking for great summit views, you won't get them here, but you will get a great nature hike, and a chance to view the wildlife of the Whites!

Don't let the first third fool you - the trail gets vertical about a half mile before the peak. Someone else suggested up South, down North which I will also suggest. Getting down south would be a bit more challenging. Views at the top aren't 360° but they're gorgeous regardless! Only gave this 3 stars because there's really nothing outstanding or memorable about the hike up. (it's also way closer to 10.2 miles than the 9.1 listed)

* Full Trail Journal now up at packandpeak.com

Completed this on 7/7/18 . If you’re going solo I highly suggest scheduling a shuttle to pick you up at the Webster/Jackson trailhead and then dropping you at the Valley Way trailhead so you end at your car because you can’t guarantee when you’re going to finish and you don't want to hike 15 miles back to your car if you can't get a ride. Trail Angels is one of them but if they're booked, the AMC will give you some numbers for individuals that shuttle people. They gave me the number for a great guy named Bill and he met me a little before 3:00 am at Webster/Jackson and dropped me at the Valley Way trailhead at 3:25 am. I started solo at 3:35 am and joined a group of 3 about 2 miles up Valley Way trail - Todd, Garret, and Jeff. We finished at 7:30 pm for a total of about 16 hours including all our stops. We stuck together until the end, picking up a few others along the way. We hit 10 peaks - Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Washington, Monroe, Franklin, Eisenhower, Pierce, Jackson and Webster. We stopped at all the huts to refill water, grab some snacks, and rest. Spent about half an hour to 45 minutes at Washington. A couple of us brought an extra shirt and pair of socks and changed at Mount Washington. We got lucky with clear skies and 60’s most of the day. Bring sunscreen, eat a lot of carbs and some sodium along the way, sunglasses, bring cash to buy snacks at the huts because you’ll need them, bring layers – we started in fleece and shell and rotated those layers throughout the day due to windchill. BRING GLOVES - We had 45 MPH winds at Madison and that will take the blood out of your fingers real quick. Pace yourself up Valley Way because you’re going to need everything your legs have to get up to Washington. Just ask the folks in line if you can just touch the rock pile at the summit of Washington if you don’t want to take a picture and wait in line. The descent down Webster Cliff and Webster Jackson trails have a lot of big rocks you’ll be crab walking down. The last few miles require a lot of focus to end this hike so pay attention to where your feet are landing. It’s a long, hard hike, but if you prepare right then it’s also an absolutely amazing and unforgettable experience.

Hoping to hit that Pemi Loop Next

FOLLOW ME @PackandPeak
Full Trail Journal now up at packandpeak.com

*One of the guys in our group had his boots completely fall apart up Valley Way and the only other option was a pair of Teva velcro strap water sandals. He strapped them on over some socks at Madison Hut and wore them the rest of the day. If you’ve hiked in New Hampshire you know this is no easy feat (bad pun intended). I couldn’t believe it. He didn’t stump a toe or get soaked through the mud. Jeff is a legend in my book. Text me if you need the number for a shuttle 3-two-1 7-nine-5 533-nine

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