Trekking Pinkham Notch to Mount Washington Summit

Trekking Pinkham Notch to Mount Washington Summit
Mount Washington State Park

Pinkham Notch is considered the heart of the Whites with access to some of the most popular and stunning sections of the White Mountains. These include the unique 29,000 acres Presidential Range and the 60.3-acre parcel of land at Mount Washington State Park. The route is considered difficult. However, arriving in the area and would rather not camp, the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Joe Dodge Lodge would readily welcome you. The lodge offers accommodations, food, and plenty of activities including events, hikes, and family adventure programs. The lodge is also the base camp for some of best the outdoor adventures in the region.

The lodge’s Pinkham Notch Visitor Center is the starting route up Mount Washington. Here you can park your vehicle or arrive by an Appalachian Mountain Club-run shuttle. The center takes reservations and stops at several trailheads leading to the Appalachian Trail and the club’s alpine huts. Also, be reminded that the weather on Mount Washington can be quite different. It changes so quickly. That being so, pack appropriately and be sure to check the weather forecast before heading out.

Starting the ascend

Starting at the visitor center, climb the Tuckerman Ravine Trail along the Cutler River. At 0.2 miles cross a bridge over the river, and there is a clear view of Crystal Cascade Falls. From the falls, the trail climbs up the ravine. After passing several trails, one of which, the Huntington Ravine Trail, can also be used to reach the summit, but it is a much more challenging route. Instead, continue up the Tuckerman Ravine towards Hermit Lake. Take a right onto Lion’s Head Trail just before the lake to ascend the Lion’s Head, a rocky outcrop on the northern ridgeline. The climb here is quite steep, about 0.75 miles. However, you will get a short respite as you cross the Alpine Garden Trail. The route soon ascends to rejoin the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. Take a right and follow the trail toward the peak.

Arriving at the summit, navigate to the top via sidewalks and parking areas. A signed cairn is located behind the Tip Top House; a historic former hotel built in 1853 that has been turned into a museum. The summit is so large you can spend some time enjoying the views and summit structures like the Mount Washington Observatory. Here, do not forget to top off your water bottles and use the facilities while you are there. When you are ready to head home, follow the Tuckerman Ravine Trail all the way down.

Dogs: Leashed