Climbing: Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail to Crawford Path
Descending: Jewell Trail
Elevation Gain: 3,800 feet
Date: August, 2013
Trail Head: Base Road Parking Lot just before Cog Railway Parking. National Forest Service Pass required- available at trail head kiosk.
Useful Books: White Mountain Guide, 29th: AMC’s Comprehensive Guide to Hiking Trails in the White Mountain National Forest and AMC’s Best Day Hikes in the White Mountains: Four-Season Guide to 60 of the Best Trails in the White Mountain National Forest.
Climbing Mt. Washington:
When planning our road trip through New England (see our itinerary here), Dave had a dream of climbing Mt. Washington with the kids. Unsure of the best route to take, we stopped at the AMC Visitor Center in Pinkham Notch to get advice and decided to take the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail from the western side of the mountain. To prepare for our hike, we made sure to have clothes for all weather as I knew that conditions can quickly change from sunny and warm to wind and rain. This held true for us! We had stopped at a Goodwill store on the way out of Maine and picked up extra rain gear and we were very glad we did as there was a drastic difference in the weather at the trail head and at the summit. Each of us started out in shorts and long sleeve shirts and we brought with us rain pants, a rain jacket, gloves, a hat and an extra long sleeve shirt or jacket. Even in early August, we used it all. Said to have the world’s worst weather, hiking Mt. Washington is no joke. I can not stress enough the importance of having proper gear when climbing here as the weather is notoriously erratic. When we started at the bottom the weather was sunny and 60s but it was drastically different at the summit. Many people have died on Mt. Washington. In fact, Backpacker Magazine named it as one of America’s 10 Most Dangerous Hikes. The wind at the top truly was unbelievable! I felt like it could blow us off the mountain and we spent several hours hiking in cold rain with strong winds on both our way up and down the trail. Click here to see a video we shot near the top which gives you a taste of what it’s like. Definitely check the weather before venturing out and turn back if it gets too intense.
Climbing Mt. Washington was amazing and definitely rates as one of my all time favorites. It was pretty strenuous and rocky at times, taking us about 8 hours to hike to the summit and back which included a long break at Lakes of the Clouds Hut for snacks, hot chocolate and coffee and the Summit where we ate lunch and explored the observatory, Tip Top House and rested up before heading back down the trail. Make sure to bring cash as credit cards weren’t accepted at either place for the food we bought, although an ATM was available at the summit. I found the trail up to be much easier than back down as the stinging rain really started on our way down the Jewell Trail. It was coming down so hard, it felt like we were being slapped with it! The terrain is rugged and rough and it took us longer than normal to hike the miles. It was especially slow going when it was raining as we didn’t want to slip on the slick rocks. That being said, the kids did great and hiking Mt. Washington is one of our favorite memories from the trip.
Climbing Mt. Washington With Kids
If you go:
–Bring rain gear, cold weather gear and a map. You DO NOT want to get lost up here and the trail did get confusing at times.
–Be CAREFUL and take your time! Wear shoes with good grip. We came across one poor guy who had twisted his ankle on the rocky trail and was having to slowly hobble down with the help of his wife.
–Water is available at both the Lakes of the Clouds Hut and the Summit along with bathroom facilities. The composting toilets at the Lakes of the Clouds Hut are wonderfully efficient and clean. This would be a great place to spend the night.
–Snacks are available at Lakes at the Clouds Hut along with hot drinks. We bought several delicious home made mocha truffles to go with the snacks we brought along with us and soup was also available although we didn’t buy any.
–There is food available at the summit with pizza, snacks, soup and other snack bar type foods. Credit Cards aren’t accepted but there is an ATM here. It is CRAZY how crowded it is up here due to the road and cog railway that also go to the summit.
–If you didn’t pack enough cold weather gear, a limited supply is available in the gift shop. I saw sweatshirts, rain jackets, hats and gloves which would be a godsend if you had forgotten any of these things.
Climbing Mt. Washington with kids was awesome! With proper preparation, I can’t recommend it enough and I can’t wait to visit here again.