|Hiking in the White Mountains
The year I moved to New Hampshire to work as a hiking guide for the AMC, I had hiked the Grand Canyon in a day, Mt. Saint Helens in a day, and multiple challenging hikes in the Sierras. At the time I was living at 6,000 feet and my daily runs would take me into 7,000 feet of elevation. I figured that the White Mountains and it's pitiful little Mt. Washington (6,000 footer) had nothing to offer me in the way of challenge or unique beauty. I discovered that I was completely wrong and now have converted to a White Mountain worshiper. I am a devoted New England adventurer and enthusiast. As a fairly recent convert, I think it's important that White Mountain hikers know the challenges they will face when climbing in the White Mountains.
Here are the 5 things every adventurer should know before tackling the White Mountains...
|White Mountain Trails are Rocky
Advice for Rocky Terrain: Wear sturdy, durable footwear. For long trips or trips with a weighted pack, consider wearing high-top hiking boots and using trekking poles for stability.
|White Mountain Trails are Steep
Advice for Steep Trail: Take your time! Take frequent breaks for water, snack and rest. Plan ahead by giving yourself plenty of time to tackle the mountains. Again, I recommend trekking poles and sturdy footwear for mountain climbing - especially on the steep descents. Don't forget- it might be steep going up, and it's going to be just as steep going down!
|White Mountain Trails are Confusing
Advice for Confusing Trail Markings: Appalachian Mountain Club maintains the trails and staff the huts/visitor centers in the White Mountains. They also publish excellent hiking guides and maps with mileage, elevation, etc. Familiarize yourself with The AMC White Mountain Guide and the AMC White Mountain Map Sets. The cost of the AMC White Mountain Guide is $25 and comes with a set of paper maps. I also purchase the tyvec maps since they are waterproof. Know how to read contour maps, and if you are confused, ask a knowledge staff member at one of the visitor centers (Highland Center or Pinkham Notch). In addition, keep a careful lookout for trail signs, junctions, and river crossings, and finally, know the blaze color you are following. If you are on the Appalachian Trail for your hike, the trail will always be blazed white. Surround trails are often in blues and yellows.
4. It's Crowded:
|White Mountain Trails are Crowded
Advice for Avoiding the Crowds: If you don't want to be dodging the summer traffic, try hiking in the off seasons. While the area is definitely a year-round destination, there are times when those congested July hikes are sparse with visitors. If you aren't comfortable with winter hiking, why not try Mt. Lafayette in early June or early September? There are fewer people on the trails and the weather is often better. If you are going hiking in the high-season, take a hike off the beaten path. Many of my favorite hikes are the ones that don't get much foot traffic, such as Mt. Pierce, Mt. Garfield, Mt. Osceola, and the Moat Mountains. These all provide stunning views and rewarding hiking-without the crowded trails.
|It's worth it!
*Wikipedia's White Mountain National Forest page.
Please feel free to leave comments, advice, and questions below!