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Pinkham Notch to Mount Washington Summit

Difficult
 4.5 (12) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A strenuous but fantastic hike to the summit of Mount Washington.

Liz

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Map Key

8.0

Miles

12.8

KM

Lollipop

6,251' 1,905 m

High

2,098' 639 m

Low

4,154' 1,266 m

Up

4,152' 1,266 m

Down

20%

Avg Grade (11°)

72%

Max Grade (36°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall

Overview

A stunning and rugged loop up to the summit of Mount Washington. While you can drive to the summit, it will feel much more rewarding to reach it via the classic Tuckerman Ravine trail.

Description

This hike begins at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and heads up the Tuckerman Ravine trail. For the first 0.2 miles you'll ascend along the babbling Cutler River. As you cross the bridge you'll have nice views of the Crystal Cascade Falls. From here, the grade of the trail steepens as it climbs up the ravine towards Hermit Lake.

Before you make it to the lake, take a right onto Lion's Head Trail. You'll ascend the northern ridgeline of the ravine which takes you up to Lion's Head, a rocky outcrop above the ravine. The grade continues to be steep for about a half mile. You'll have a nice respite for a bit as you cross the Alpine Garden trail but you'll shortly be climbing again to rejoin the Tuckerman Ravine trail. Take a right here and follow the Tuckerman Ravine trail towards the summit. You'll reach the parking area and from here will navigate via the sidewalk paths and parking areas to the summit station. Here you'll find the Mount Washington Observatory, The Tip Top House, and a place to use the restroom and refill water. The Mount Washington Observatory is a weather station that studies the uniquely harsh conditions found at the summit. Be aware the weather varies drastically above tree line than at the base. Thanks to the observatory, you can check the higher summits forecast for the White Mountains here. The official summit is a large signed cairn located behind the station.

After enjoying the views return the way you came to reach the Tuckerman Ravine trail. This time, continue following the Tuckerman Ravine all the way down. Tuckerman Ravine is most famous for being the most popular backcountry ski destination on the East Coast. The ravine holds snow well into the summer while most of the backcountry skiing takes place in April & May you may see skiers as late as July 4th. The trail get's incredibly steep at times as it descends the headwall. There are narrow sections and some places can be wet, so watch your footing to avoid slipping. The trail can be quite rocky, even after dropping below the headwall, and you'll be following a small alpine stream all the way to Hermit Lake. Here there is a cabin and some restrooms. From the lake, continue down Tuckerman Ravine trail back to the visitor center.

Contacts

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Liz

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 12 votes

#662

Overall
  4.5 from 12 votes
5 Star
50%
4 Star
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Recommended Route Rankings

#12

in New Hampshire

#662

Overall
117 Views Last Month
6,335 Since Apr 15, 2019
Difficult

0%
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20%
70%
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Photos

Mount Washington Peak, Gorham, NH
Jul 1, 2015 near Pinkham…, NH
Looking back from the summit.
Jul 1, 2015 near Pinkham…, NH
Tuckerman Ravine from Hermit Lake Shelters.
Oct 9, 2016 near Pinkham…, NH
Climbing down from the summit towards Tuckerman Ravine
Jun 6, 2018 near Pinkham…, NH
Even in July, the summit of Mount Washington lives up to its reputation. The base was sunny and 70 degrees, while the summit was 40 degrees with 70 MPH winds.
Mar 30, 2017 near Pinkham…, NH
Summit lookout on a clear day.
Sep 7, 2019 near Pinkham…, NH

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Weather


Current Trail Conditions

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Bad / Closed 12 days ago See History
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Check-Ins

Nov 7, 2020
Nate Roberts
Crampons + ice axe recommended. Warm ish and wet in valley. Freezing 55-75mph wind, 3-5 feet of snow, icy sections, VERY STEEP. Plan for a 10 hour day 10.5mi — 8h 30m
Sep 13, 2020
Matthew Blank
Jul 16, 2020
Jessica L
Started at 8 am and finished at 6:45 pm, but with a long break at the summit. A TON of water on the Tuckerman Ravine trail; stairs made it easier.
Jul 7, 2020
Ethan Gingerich
Jun 26, 2020
Alessandra Seiter
8.2mi — 5h 00m
Jan 18, 2020
Jonathan Fraser
Jul 20, 2019
James Malone
Jul 13, 2019
Lindsey Wilson