Mount Jefferson via Caps Ridge Trail is a 4.5 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Twin Mountain, New Hampshire that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
4.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2,660 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dog friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

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

hiking
1 month ago

Went hiking on this trail when the rain was heavy and the summit was cloudy, didn’t make it to the summit but made it to both of the other caps. Will definitely pack lighter next time and bring a buddy, but overall, a great and challenging hike!!!

backpacking
1 month ago

Did this trail with a 30 Pound pack, and including the 35 minutes for lunch at the summit it took us, in a group of 3 to do it in about 7 hours. We got to the parking lot at about 10, and stopped many a time along the way up for water. As there is no water source on this peak, one should expect to bring more water than you would normally think. Otherwise I had an excellent time hiking even though it was very strenuous. If you get there late bring a flashlight for hiking in the dark, as the way down can be dangerous if you can't see your footing.

hiking
2 months ago

I will admit, my husband and I were not completely prepared for this hike. This is a tough one. Be prepared to do some bouldering as well. I would recommend some hiking sticks if you have some as there are some spots that are tricky. If you are new to hiking I would hold off on doing this trail until you get some others under your belt. It is a beautiful trail and has some amazing views but make sure you are prepared for a workout.

hiking
2 months ago

This was a truly gorgeous hike. I went along the Caps Ridge Trail and it was comfortably populated with other people, always a good thing to have company on the trails. Definitely don't go if it's rained at all as there are several bald faced spots to scramble up. Also, I wouldn't bring a dog unless your pup is well accustomed to difficult hiking. Overall I thought it was a wonderful challenge. I am a fairly experienced hiker and in moderately good shape, I completed this loop in about 4 hours. Happy trails :)

hiking
2 months ago

Tough hike! First mile is easy but then it gets pretty steep with some nearly vertical rock scrambles. It’s pretty fun on the way up (you’ll need to climb up some rocks) but difficult on the way down. Just scooted down the steep sections on my butt! Such amazing views! Unfortunately when I went the summit was in the clouds. Would highly recommend!

3 months ago

I hiked it 25 years ago and it started to storm. It was a very strenuous hike but very rewarding at the same time. Once we got to the top the clouds came in and we had to descend fast . Never be on a mountain during storms! However a blue sky can change fast and you will least expect it.

3 months ago

Mount Jefferson is tough for newbies. I hiked Mount Jefferson, then walked over to Mount Adam's via the Gulfside Trail and had lunch, then back to Jefferson, round the Cornice Trail and then back down Cap's Ridge to the trail base parking lot. That was too much and took me almost 11 hours and I broke my glasses. Don't do that.

But Jefferson all by itself via Cap's Ridge is still a challenge for those new to the Whites. Have good boots and plenty of food and water. There is some rock scrambling needed, but not too overwhelming.

hiking
3 months ago

A great strenuous hike with a lot of fun rock scrambles. The view from the peak is wonderful.

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful hike, get above treeline very quick and most of hike is on large rocks. Came down off gulfside trail for less steep descent. One of most scenic hikes in all of NH

hiking
3 months ago

Gives some good swamp ass but good view

hiking
3 months ago

Hi Alltrails.com,
Dogs do not have to be on leash on this trail and most other trails in the WMNF. Leashes are required for dogs in developed recreation areas and interpretive trails. (In a campground, or Guyot campsite for example). I've seen this caveat for other trails on your site and it just isn't true. In fact the forest service dogs and AMC employees with dogs are off leash all over the presidential range in all seasons. Everyone has to act responsibly and manage their pooches however the information at the top of the page is erroneous resulting in occasional conflict for pet owners. Literally hundreds of off-leash dogs travel the Whites in all seasons including the spring during Tuckerman Ravine season.
Please update this information for accuracy so that everyone has the correct information.
Thanks for hosting a great site.
Steven Cooney

hiking
4 months ago

The weather couldn't have been more spectacular and the Caps Ridge Trail was quite crowded. I did this hike knowing it would be a physical and mental challenge for me. I'm not in the greatest shape and I've recently developed a bit of a fear of ledges, but I'm a lifetime hiker -- including a fair bit of experience in the Whites -- and the point was to do something special to commemorate my 50th birthday. (The last time I did this hike, I was 26 years old, wearing a 50 lb external frame pack.) Anyway, the birthday hike exceeded expectations. I found the uphill extremely challenging, but largely because of my not-stellar conditioning and, when I get nervous, I hyperventilate a little. And climbing up the Caps sure made me nervous. Though it took me 4 hours to get there, I made it at long last. My friends are far more athletic but only moderately experienced hikers. They kicked my a** on the way up, but they found the descent much, much more scary and difficult than I found it (though, admittedly, I did have to overcome some panic in two different places). It took about 2.5 hours to get down. With pained knees and ankles, they cursed me much of the way down. Then again that was Saturday. By this morning, it seems the consensus from the group is that they had a great day and, like me, are quite proud of themselves.

A few tips: 1 Only hike this trail in good weather. 2. If you're not into hands and feet scrambles with ledges, or boulder hopping (the last 0.4 cone to summit), don't do this hike. This isn't the typical pretty walk in the woods. 3. Don't assume that you'll be hiking at your normal pace. While I'm sure some do this, i found things took a lot longer than expected. 4. Don't wear very thin trousers if you plan to slide down any rocks on your butt. I completely shredded the entire back of my pants.

4 months ago

Just got off Mount Jefferson. My “Father’s Day hike” We loved the Caps trail but thought it was a bit tough on the dogs. Foolishly took the castle trail to the link trail. Very difficult with the dogs! One wrong step and you are bear bait. It was hot so we thought the trees would be a better place to be. The Black flys kept reminding us otherwise.
Oh well, all is well that ends well!!
If I never see the link trail again it will be to soon.

hiking
4 months ago

Taking the caps ridge trail up was amazing, I did this with a group of 8 on June 9 2018. We went up the caps ridge trail, took castle trail over to the link. The castle trail was very technical. This was my first 4000 footer and I loved it. However, the link trail shouldn't really be considered a trail. Its been a long while since its been maintained. If you're looking for some adventure that feels like you're trekking in the woods not on a trail, this trail is for you. Watch out for the gaping holes in the ground and there is a waterfall area that you have to cross. Not for beginners as it will take too long. With a beginner in the group, the hike lasted 11 hours. Oh BTW, as of June 9 2018, the road up to the trail head wasn't open, so it added on 6 miles of road to the hike (3 miles each way)

5 months ago

hiking, not for beginners
nice foggy weather, great views!
road to trail parking was closed so I had to walk out and back another 6miles (11.5m altogether), FYI this road is not gonna open until July 2018

5 months ago

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hiking
7 months ago

This review is specifically for the Caps Ridge - Castle - Link loop... It was a beautiful day, and all I can say was that this route is among the most dynamic, scenic, and downright enjoyable ventures I've had the pleasure to experience. Once you ascend past the timber line (very soon after the trailhead), the views of the valley are phenomenal. Once the views come, you're in for scrambling nearly the rest of the way to the summit. Once past the largest of the rocks and close to the summit, we were enveloped in fog. ... but the great thing about the fog is that you already know that soon starting the descent, you're in for some more stunning valley views - and that's exactly what we got with Castle Trail. The views from Castle are just as mesmerizing as those from the Caps Ridge ascent, and yet still decidedly their very own. Truly phenomenal.

In retrospect, The Link was likely my favorite part of the entire loop. Though it's a relatively brief stretch, it's a challenge to visually pick out where the trail actually is - so wherever your foot lands might as well be considered it! I'd recommend taking it slow and soaking in as much of the scenery as possible for two reasons: 1) the entirety of this section is what comes to mind if I had to imagine what an enchanted forest looks like, and 2) there are myriad unstable/slippery/otherwise dynamic surfaces upon which you'll tread, and there's no shortage of spots where a misstep is a risk that you can't afford to take.

This loop is not only an excellent physical challenge, but also an unforgettable experience (particularly so given the exceptional bang for your buck given the overall modest distance involved). We completed it in roughly 6 hours (which includes roughly 30 minutes spent enjoying the summit). I've been wanting to give this another go ever since this first time, and will do so again this year. There's a great many hikes yet on my list, but out of all those I've done up until now, this one holds a very special place for me.

Enjoy!

hiking
10 months ago

I enjoy looping this with the Link Trail and Cas. Ridge Trail.

hiking
11 months ago

Absolutely fantastic trail!!!
Not for the faint of heart though.
Fairly easy till you break the tree line then it becomes difficult.

hiking
11 months ago

Great hike with our 5 and 7 year old troopers. Amazing views and technically challenging caps made for a not at all boring hike for the kids.

hiking
Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Wow this hike really gives you your bang for your buck. 1 mile in and the views start coming and they dont end until your back at the 1 mile mark. Very cool day. 30 deg. 20 mile hr winds. hiker said with chill factor we were looking at 10-15 deg feel. But man it was raw nature at its best. No clouds and no bugs!

hiking
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Mount Jefferson via Cap's Ridge is a trail I have done twice. I like it better each time. I would not recommend it for beginners or first timers. It gets steep in places and there's a decent amount of rock scrambling involved. Make sure you get a good breakfast.

Monday, September 18, 2017

best I've done of 4000 footers so far. bouldering up in too third is amazing. false peaks provide almost constant unreal views.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

cool trail. easy for first hour then some rock climbing.

hiking
Monday, August 21, 2017

Hiked up via Caps>Link>Castle, and down Caps. Near the summit, Caps is steep and pretty rocky.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

This hike is actually 5 mikes, not 4.6. It literally says at the trailhead "Mt Jefferson 2.5 miles" but probably the worst thing you could do going into this hike is be deceived by the Milage as others have pointed out. The only reason I make a point of even pointing out the discrepancy in mileage is because the last .4 is a steep summit push with many false summits and before that are about 5 even steeper rock clusters you literally have to climb like bouldering. Relentless rocky terrain is an understatement and it is super unforgiving on the knees. This is coming from an experience hiker, not a casual one. Don't underestimate the whites. Just know going into it that it's definitely NOT an easy hike because it's short in Milage. Feels like 10. Watched many ppl turn back because they thought it was going to be a short hike. Started around 1 and ended at 8. But spent plenty of time at the summit. As long as you respect the presidential range, the rocky terrain and strong winds/ erratic weather of an alpine environment and the fact that it's the third highest point in the north east crammed into 5 miles then you're ready. That being said bring lots of water and snacks, while trying not to over pack cuz weight and be safe! Also there's more fun hikes in the area that feel about the same length tho they're longer but you get to walk along alpine ridges which is awesome. This ones just sort of an up and back. Enjoy ;)

hiking
Friday, August 11, 2017

A very steep, yet short in length, hike. Lots of rock scrambling. Took me and my mom six hours. Four to summit and two hours back.

hiking
Tuesday, August 01, 2017

We had perfect weather when we hiked, I would not have wanted to do this trail in wet conditions due to the rock scrambling. We had children in our group aged 7 to 11 and it took about 6 hrs round trip. Hard work, fantastic views galore.

hiking
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

It wouldn't hurt to train for this one if you don't have major elevation changes. I heard a few half my age make similar comments. The Caps are particularly grueling in spots. Major cramping ... almost had to come back down before completing ascent to Mt. Jefferson. That being said the views are incredible.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Harder than we thought! Worth it for the views. Be careful of dogs pads and I wouldn't carry a kid in a hiking pack. Too much for this one. So beautiful. Rocks are tough and several false summits make it tougher.

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