Howker Ridge Trail

HARD 9 reviews

Howker Ridge Trail is a 7 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Gorham, New Hampshire that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from January until January. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

7.0 miles
3,822 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash


cross country skiing


nature trips


trail running






wild flowers





old growth

over grown




The trailhead begins at a dirt parking lot on Pinkham B road (Dolly Cop), see "getting there" for more info. The trail has several waterfalls, Coosauk falls, Stair falls and Hitchcock falls and a steep ravine view called Devils Kitchen. Hitchcock falls has a river crossing leading to a steep section and a small cave off trial called Bear Pit before Blueberry Ridge. The trail is named after the Howker family who lived at the base of this trail. The four mini peak-let summits on trail are called Howks and will have you ascending and descending several times and are exposed on the tops. The trail intersects onto Gulfside trail leading to the summit of Madison.

1 day ago

A beautiful and wonderful, yet rugged, hike in the whites! This trail is properly rated as hard. I am a pretty experienced hiker, and many of the elements of the trail made it difficult. My only complaints: There was a great amount of pine and shrub overgrowth on the last 3 or so miles of the trail and was also closer to 4.5 miles, making it a 9 mile hike out&back. It took me approximately 6.5 hours, about 4 hours ascending. There are multiple “false peaks” but that didn’t hinder the beauty of this trail. Make sure to download the topo map to track your progress! The waterfall at the beginning was beautiful, and carried on for a mile or so. There is no “Mt. Madison” sign at the top, to my disappointment, so you will know that you submitted by using the map. Enjoy!

9 months ago

I chose this trail not because it was the toughest (though I do like a challenge), but because I had heard the views during the elevation gain were the best of the trails heading up to Mt Madison. This advice was spot on! The first mile are so was through lush forest and followed a stream with lovely waterfalls though the water level was low at this time. About a mile and a half in, the trail really begins to climb and soon enough the birch trees are left behind and you are surrounded by tall evergreens. The trail is named appropriately as it follows a ridge line with 4 false peaks called "The Hawks". At the first of 4, a partial view of the valley below opens up. Just a taste of what's to come. At the top of this first peak the trail levels off and is more open and much softer ground than the rocky, root strewn path previously followed. It gives the impression that things will get a bit easier going. Wrong! Soon enough you are balancing on multiple rocks, climbing over boulders, and tripping over roots and stumps. At the 2nd peak, the views are more broad (180 behind you) and you get a great view of Mt Madison and the ridge line still to be traversed. This is a great place to take a break and grab a snack. Soon after more decline, more incline, decline, incline and so on. Eventually you clear the treeline completely and can see the final ascent before you. There is no rest for the weary here. The incline is steep on, sometimes, wobbly rocks with a much less defined path. If you can locate the blue paint streaks on the rocks great, if not, multiple cairns mark the easiest path upward. Even so, the wife and I somehow missed the target slightly and ended up about a hundred or so yards right of the trail. We soon recalibrated and located the Osgood Trail for the final 400-500 foot ascent to the peak. NOTE: there is a rock formation above that appears to be the peak of Mt Madison. It is not. Once above this section, you have about another 100 foot incline over about 2/10's of a mile to the true peak. The views from the peak are phenomenal with 360 views of the rest of the Presidential Range to the South, Randolph and Berlin to the North and the Green Mountains to the west. Once you've taken in the views and truly realized the accomplishment of climbing Mt Madison you'll continue along the peak and then down a steep path to the Madison Hut to recharge your batteries with lunch you carried in or a hot lunch which can be purchased. There are multiple paths back down toward Rte 2. We chose Valley Way which was the most direct but was loaded with rocks and tree roots the entire way down which can be devastating to already tired knees and ankles. I would definitely recommend trekking poles for the descent. This probably was the most challenging hike we have done but also the most rewarding. Will definitely visit the White Mountains again

10 months ago

Fun hike, took Howker ridge up, not one of my favorite paths to be honest, there is like three false peaks before you reach Madison. The view from Madison is fantastic, I stayed up there for close to an hour watching the eclipse, pretty neat.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Wife and I hiked up this trail in June. It was a tough hike for us amateur hikers but it was amazing! Great views at the knolls and amazing to look back where you were minutes ago. We took other trails on the way down to complete a loop ending with Watson trail. It took us about 10 hours with a good stop a Madison cabin. Probably closer to 4.5 miles out.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Hiked Mt Madison on may 8th, saw some nice water falls on the way, the trail
Was Howker ridge trail, it was very steep and filled with ice flows, a river crossing and 3 false summits, it was raining at first but then is stared hailing and snowing at alpine, the wind was reaching 60mph making the sleet painful, it was very difficult to keep going, all my gear was soaked and the wind made me freezing, we had to crawl over blips and rocks as the wind gusted, I made it 100 yards from the summit but the wind was to powerful so I took shelter in a small cave like overhang well Jon reached the summit and came back, it's crazy how fast the weather can change at 5000 feet, the wind and sleet was getting more intense making for a quick decent to treeline to block the wind and sleet, definitely the hardest hike so far.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Loved this trail. The most beautiful way up Mt. Madison. Tough, but worth the views of course!

Monday, December 07, 2015

This is a hard trail. It has 4 knobs on it. you go up one and down to the bottom of the other .This
repeats 4 times in a row and it seams like you gain no elevation until you pull away from the last howk. It is a beautiful trail. You really feel like you have accomplished some thing when you are done

Monday, June 16, 2014

Beautiful Ridge Hiking. Awesome views of the gulf of Madison and Mt. Adams

Wednesday, October 12, 2016