View Full Version : NH>Help with Trip Planning for a hike in the White Mountains

04-28-2014, 21:16
I am a hanger from Charlotte, NC and I am heading to New England this June for some hiking and am in need of some help from my yankee brethren.

Planning to be on the trail from Thursday morning June 12th through Sunday June 15th and driving back to Boston to fly home sometime Monday. I would like to hike the presidentials in that 4 days and have never been on the trail that far north. It will be 3 of us hiking together and we are all experienced backpackers in our early 30's.

Can I hammock at all on this section? If not are tent spaces easy to come by?

Can you camp around the huts? I saw the prices average $120 to stay in them and that is out of my league for this trip.

Is all the hiking on the ridge lines? Are the campsites off of the ridge line?

What are water sources like on the trail here?

We have a ride from Boston to the trail head, do you recommend any shuttle services in the area so we can hike point to point?

Anything else you think we need to know?

Any places that you recommend stopping on our drive from Boston to the trail head or on the way back?

As always thank you so much for your help! This site is such an incredible resource filled with great people.

04-29-2014, 02:00
You shouldn't have a problem with finding places to hang your hammock - most of your hiking will be below tree line. Hammocking around the huts is probably not a good idea though - there is no camping in alpine zones and the trees will thank you. See this brochure for some more info about camping & fire restrictions in the Whites: http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5363715.pdf

Water sources can vary, but are generally frequent (especially when compared to out west!). We've had a fair bit of snow this year and a somewhat soggy spring, so water levels probably won't be an issue.

No idea about shuttles.

What else do you need to know? Don't underestimate the White mountains. They're steeper than most other parts of the AT and the weather can change quick. Be prepared for unpredictable weather, even possibly snow. Then again, it might be in the 70s... and then the 20s at night. You never know. Just follow the good ol' Boy Scout motto; be prepared.

04-29-2014, 10:32
That is a huge relief. All the pictures and everything I've read said that most of the hiking was above the tree line and so I figured I was going to have to leave the hammock and a good nights sleep at home.

04-29-2014, 11:02
That is a huge relief. All the pictures and everything I've read said that most of the hiking was above the tree line and so I figured I was going to have to leave the hammock and a good nights sleep at home.


I have a recommendation. Follow the link below and watch the video. It is a very good depiction of the landscape that you can expect to encounter. I hike the Whites regularly and you'll be right at home in a hammock. The link will lead you to many more videos of the Whites and Presidential Range.

The individual who's video I am linking you to is a YouTube contributor by the trail name of Sintax77. You can search for his user name there, or just follow this link. Once you see the video, you should think about PM'ing Sintax77 and asking him some specific questions. I can't think of a nicer kid who is very knowledgeable of hiking the Whites in all types of weather.

I think you'll be pleased with the result. Be sure to post a trip report after you return. We'd love to hear/see how the trip was. Remember, if you didn't take pics or video, it didn't happen. :)


All the best and have a wonderful trip !

04-29-2014, 11:06
+1 on Sintax77. Awesome hikes and great videos.

04-29-2014, 19:55
I am going to NH in august for my third hike of Mt. Washington. This year I am doing a hut-to-hut hike of the full Presi. I love my hammock, but I decided to stay in the huts because of logistics.

Keep in mind there is NO camping above tree line, including around the huts. Once you are above tree line, which is about 16 or so miles of the Presi, you may have to descend more than a thousand feet or more to the tree line, so make sure you have good maps of all the trails. The weather can change in an instant, and it can go from 60*f and sunny to sub-freezing and socked in with fog in no time. We had steady 30mph winds and wind chills of 30-ish the last time I was there (Memorial Day weekend two years ago). We cancelled our trip last year due to -9* f and ice the last week of May!

Don't want to scare you off; it's a bucket list trip, for sure! Just be prepared!

The AMC has a shuttle. I think it's $19 pp. They have a schedule on their website.

Water and hot lunches are available at huts and Mt Washington visitor's center.

04-30-2014, 09:06
The info has all been great! I watched the video last night and found it very informative. I also got on the stair climber this morning at the gym after looking at all the elevation gained per day.

Do you have a recommendation for a particular map? I looked at a few of the USGS maps on Amazon and will probably purchase one this week.

How many days are you planning for the entire presidential traverse? I would love to do the Hut to Hut but the price per night is just way too much for me to handle.

04-30-2014, 09:17
The info has all been great! I watched the video last night and found it very informative. I also got on the stair climber this morning at the gym after looking at all the elevation gained per day.

Do you have a recommendation for a particular map? I looked at a few of the USGS maps on Amazon and will probably purchase one this week.

How many days are you planning for the entire presidential traverse? I would love to do the Hut to Hut but the price per night is just way too much for me to handle.

I am leading a Meetup group (DC Backpackers). We are going for three days, so ~ 8miles per day and about 8000' elevation change (I am doing the Presi range, not the Traverse), although several hikers are doing the full Presi Traverse (50miles), over a week. We have 30 ppl signed up. Expensive for sure, but like I said, it's a bucket list trip for me! I plan on returning for my through hike in 2021..

I have the National Geographic Map of the Whites, but there are several maps. I also have a Garmin, so use that frequently. There are cairns on the side of the trail, but it's still easy to get off track, since the blazes are hard to see in places. On a clear day, you can see the trail on the ridges ahead for miles.

04-30-2014, 10:47
How bad are the bugs up there? Is bug spray enough or do I need a head net for hiking?

04-30-2014, 12:16
Not bad on the ridge cos of the wind. Don't know what others experienced, but gnats were bad for me once in the woods...

04-30-2014, 15:52
Ran to REI today and no surprise they didn't carry the map for the White Mountains. Looking on Amazon and was wondering if anyone had any experience with the ones they have for sale.




I am also assuming as an experienced backpacker I don't need to invest in the guide book for 3-4 day hike.

05-05-2014, 08:35
the second map is the one that I have. I don't think you can go wrong with the AMC maps either.

05-06-2014, 13:01
The Appalachian Mountain Club publishes the definitive guidebooks and maps. I'd recommend you invest $20 in the newest version, complete with maps for the entire White Mountain area, ot just the Presidentials. Look for the "White Mt. Guide," 29th Edition.

If you're thinking about a north-south Presidential traverse, it's an interesting challenge becuase it's a little long for most people as a day-hike (about 23 miles and 9000' or more, depending on how you do it); a little short for a three-day trip. Right in the middle. The problem is, camping is really difficult anywhere near the halfway point, because yo're above timberline and it's a long walk down (and back up!) to finr a good spot.

Once you get your guidebook and maps (might as well join the AMC while you're at it... it's a good organization and as a member you get some cool discounts!) you can do some armchair planning. For example, you might want to spend your first night at one of the RMC spots on the north slope (just a couple hours in from the road); then head over the higher peaks and spend your second night by Mizpah Hut; and then maybe take a roundabout route down to Crawford Notch on the third day...

Have fun!

05-07-2014, 10:38
Last summer (in July I believe) I was a leader on several hikes around New Hampshire for a youth group and we hiked Mount Pierce and spent a little time at the summit before heading back down. As far as bugs go, I had no problems down in the woods while I was hiking (didn't even use bug spray), but as soon as we stopped at the top, the gnats were terrible. If you kept moving they weren't bad at all but sitting still they'd swarm around you and start biting. They weren't painful bites but they drew blood, and several people, including myself, found blood dripping from behind their ears or down their legs! I think it might have been a freak occurrence since it was a very calm day even on the summit, but I didn't sit long for a rest up there and kept walking in circles to keep them from landing on me. But like I said, if you kept moving, bugs were not a problem at all and I don't think most days were like this one.

05-07-2014, 12:07
gnats are more annoying than the mossies, but i wouldn't sleep without a bug net on my hammock. The Pemi hike is worth all the hype as well if you are looking for options- we have done that one- look to include The Bonds in that 3 day hike. You want to make sure you are prepared weather wise- bring a rain jacket and a down coat because it can get rather chilly on a hot August day up in the Whites. There are designated back country sites you can stay at or you can stealth it. Bears are out there- i know that Lincoln Woods center is renting out Bear cannisters to hikers now.. and the little critters (i.e. squirrels and chipmunks) like to eat through most bags. I'd check out at least getting an Ursack. make sure you have plenty of water and sunscreen on those ridges- they are long and high up. lots of up and down, rocks, crags... wear shoes that you trust and bring a blister pack.. it's almost inevitable to avoid them.
have fun!!! we are planning either another Pemi or Presi hike for mid June ourselves. Hiking up to the summit of Mt. Washington is pretty cool. they have a hut with free water and a cash food bar. don't get annoyed by all the people who stand by the "Mt. Washington" summit sign... they are tired from driving up the mountain.

05-07-2014, 12:20
Be sure to use a map based on Washburn's survey & map such as this... http://shop.mountwashington.org/products/mount-washington-and-the-heart-of-the-presidential-range.html?fullSite=1
The USGS map is lacking.

05-07-2014, 16:17
Thx Mad-- I ordered that map for next month.

05-15-2014, 17:41
You can't camp within 1/4 mile of a hut, (signs will let you know) There are tent platforms at Mizpah Hut, nothing from there until you pass Mt Jefferson, UNLESS, you drop down into Tuckermans Ravine, via Boot Spur, where there are lots of shelters. Make sure to tell them you hike down from the ridge if they say its full. They always have space set aside for ridge hikers. The next morning you can climb back up over the headwall, always a fun hike, and continue north over Mt Washington.

05-17-2014, 07:25
Here is my tentative trip plan. Please tell me what you think and let me know if you think there is a better way to tackle this trip.

We arrive in Boston on a Wednesday night and are going to grab dinner and some beers in the city. My friend who lives up there gets off of work at 6am the next morning and we are picking him up first thing Thursday morning and driving to NH.

We plan on starting at Pinkham Notch around noon and following the AT to Madison Hut and then down to the Valley way tent site for our first night. This is about 8 miles from what I can tell and will have some pretty big climbs for our first day on the trail.

The next morning we will continue on the AT over Mt. Jefferson and then Mt. Washington and we hope to get lunch at the summit and spend a little time there. We would continue on over Mt. Monroe, Mt. Eisenhower, and Mt. Pierce ending the day near the Mizpah spring hut and camping at the Nauman tent site. This looks like a 12 mile day.

From there the plan is to go down the dry river cutoff to the isolation trail and make it back to Pinkham Notch that night to camp. It is about 10.2 miles. Then Sunday morning we plan on driving to Portland and taking in the city for a day before driving back to Boston Monday morning. This also gives us some spare time just in case the weather doesn't cooperate and we need to spend more time than planned on the trail.

If we were feeling good and the weather cooperates we would consider continuing on the AT over Mt. Jackson and Webster to Rt. 302 then following the Saco River Trail to the Dry River Trail to the Isolation Trail to the Boot Spur Trail and back to Pinkham Notch. This would put us back sometime around lunch on Sunday as we would camp somewhere on the trail. It adds about 9 miles to the trip.

The shorter trip plan is a 32 mile hike and the longer option is a 44 mile hike. Both options cover all the main peaks and start and end at Pinkham notch.

Any thoughts or experiences you have had with a trip similar to this are greatly appreciated. I am always open to changes or amendments. Thanks in advance!

05-18-2014, 07:52
I've made most of those legs and they are doable, weather dependent.

05-20-2014, 08:51
Thanks Sweeper

05-20-2014, 13:14
Sounds like a good trip! Have fun, and remember to post a trip report!

05-21-2014, 06:11
Getting the Presidential Range on a clear day is a treat, in bad weather it can be a nightmare. The huts will have daily forecasts posted.

The walk from Madison Hut to Lake of the Clouds hut will almost always go slower than expected as the walk is mostly upon 'felsenmeer' - lotsa broken jutting rock. A good ankle workout. Once you get to the Lake of the Clouds Hut, the southern side of the traverse has much better footing and is mostly downhill.

If the weather looks incompatible with a Presi traverse, I'll second the earlier comment about the Pemi / Bonds trip. Less crowds, gorgeous scenery, and aside from a couple of miles, easy access to trees / shelter.

I hope you get "bluebird days" for your planned trip, but a good plan B will help you enjoy your trip to the White Mountains.

Attached is a sign you'll see below treeline on the Presis. Good advice.


05-21-2014, 06:22
FYI some Pemi Loop links - includes trip report of me making newbie mistakes. Still one of the top 3 backpacks I've ever done.




05-21-2014, 15:14
It's perfect conditions up there right now! I just landed in hot & humid Florida today after hiking out of the White Mountains yesterday. What a depressing change.

05-27-2014, 08:26
Thanks for the links, I will definitely have a plan B hike as well. Fingers crossed for good weather.