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.