DISTANCE
39.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
16,883 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

rocky

scramble

no shade

camping
8 days ago

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.