Hiking Distance: 9.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,812 ft
Prominence: 6,148 ft.
Click here for a review of prominence and its role in mountain topography
We ascended Mt Washington via the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail and Crawford Path and then descended via the Gulfside and Jewell Trails.
The first mile or so of the hike paralleling the Ammonoosuc River is easy going through dense forest.
Occasional areas with rocks and tree roots but nothing difficult...just be a little cautious.
There’s an easy rock hop across Franklin Brook and at the one-mile mark the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail. From here the trail turns right and follows the Ammonoosuc River for a stretch over rocky terrain where any elevation gain is gradual at best.
The trail crossed the river in several area where water cascaded over the rocks. The rocks weren't large enough to created waterfalls.
Finally, an opening in the tree cover.
There were several waterfalls along the way including the Gem Pool cascade.
Once we passed the Gem Pool the trail becomes steeper and more difficult.
There were several long and steep stair sections that were tiring, but for the most part the this trail was very doable.
The rock scrambles continued but at least the viewpoints were also on the rise as the shrinking tree began to thin out.
At about the 3-mile mark the trail emerged above the tree line and we were just a short distance from Lakes of the Clouds and the Crawford Path junction.
Although the skies were hazy, Mt Washinton summit was clearly visible before we reached Lakes of the Clouds
The Lakes were the perfect lunch spot. The weather was perfect to sit, relax, recharge and enjoy the near perfect weather. To put these views in perspective, skies are clear from sunrise to sunset — not shrouded in clouds — an average of only 50 days per year
We only had another 1.4 miles to the summit. We followed the Crawford Path to the top.
As we climbed Crawford we had a great look back at the Lakes. Mt Monroe in the background was less than 0.5 miles in the opposite direct, but we decided to continue straight to the summit.
From the Lakes of the Clouds Hut, it’s a 1.4 mile hike on the Crawford Path to the summit of Mt. Washington that’s tougher than it looks.
The cone is one giant, seemingly-never-ending, rock pile, and the entire climb is out in the open and exposed to the elements. Fortunately for us it was perfect weather for hiking.
After a tough climb through the rock fields, we were at the summit. Known as the most dangerous small mountain in the world, 6,288-foot Mt. Washington boasts some scary stats: The highest wind velocity ever recorded at any surface weather station (231 mph) was logged here in 1934. And almost 150 fatalities have occurred since 1849. No surprise: Most are due to hypothermia and not only in winter since snow and cold temperatures occur throughout the year.
Several weather patterns collide on Washington and produce its notoriously foul weather, which can move in quickly. In 60-mph winds, hiking becomes nearly impossible: Traveling north along the Crawford Ridge from Washington's summit, hikers routinely–and unknowingly–get blown off course by powerful westerly winds. Unfortunately, hikers often find the winds have steered them many miles from trails and roads, thwarting their safe return.
A calm and warm day but hurricane force winds occur an average of 110 days per year.
Due to the weather it was extremely crowded with people either driving up or taking the cog railway. We sat around for a few minutes, used the facilities, took a few pictures and then began our hike down by following the Gulfside and Jewell Trails.
The Gulf Side Trail is a leisurely, mostly flat walk through alpine country. After about a mile, you join the Jewell Trail back to the parking lot.
The beginning of the Jewell Trail on your way down is a bit of a scramble, dropping just over 1000' in a very short distance. It was as tough on the joints as the way up. Lots of rock fields to navigate through.
A great picture despite the haze of Mt Clay ( 5,531 ft) and Mt Jefferson (5,716 ft).
Getting closer to the tree line.
After a slow climb down, we back at the car having just finished our first New England 4000 footer.