The Appalachian Trail spans 2,175 miles from Maine to Georgia, but nowhere is the scenery more spectacular or the hikes more inspiring than on the stretch of trail that runs through New Hampshire's White Mountains. New Hampshire plays host to 161 miles of the Appalachian Trail, topping 17 of the 48 four-thousand footers of New Hampshire, including Mount Washington –the highest point of the AT north of Tennessee– along the way.
117 miles of the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire stretch across the spines of the stunning White Mountains from the Maine-New Hampshire state line to Glencliff, New Hampshire.
While the White Mountains section is the Appalachian Trail's most frequented by backcountry visitors, it's also an infamously difficult portion, making proper planning and an honest awareness of your abilities a must. Much of the trail is above treeline, including 13 continuous miles above timberline over and around Mount Washington. As the Appalachian Trail Conservancy's website best puts it: “Be prepared for steep ascents and descents that require the use of your hands and, occasionally, the seat of your pants.”
But the views as you top these rugged and oh-so-regal peaks makes the challenge of the craggy climb worth the work. Perhaps the only thing harder than the hike itself is picking which peak to summit in the White Mountains. The trail map of the area reads like a who's who of US 18th and 19th century history, thanks in large part to the Presidential Range, which is located within the White Mountains. That range includes Mount Adams (named after America's second president, John Adams and 5,735 feet high), Mount Jefferson (named after America's third president, Thomas Jefferson, and 5,659 feet) high), and of course, Mount Washington, which at 6,288-feet, is the tallest peak in the northeast.
The Appalachian Mountain Club also offers an extensive network of huts in the White Mountains, each a day's hike apart though the Presidentials' portion of the Appalachian Trail, offering bunk style sleeping quarters and hot meals served family style, as well as an on-site hut caretaker to assist with trip planning and evening educational programs. For more information about a hut stay, visit www.outdoors.org/lodging/huts/. For those planning to overnight on the trail, the Top Notch Inn in Gorham is the perfect place to get a good night's sleep and a hot shower before you set off on your hike, or upon your return.
And, for those lacing up their hiking boots for perhaps the first time, there are plenty of day hikes easily accessible for the novice climber within a short drive from the Inn, making it an ideal base camp for all your White Mountain hiking. Inquire at the desk.
For more information, visit http://www.appalachiantrail.org.