BACKPACKING IN NEW HAMPSHIRE


Jim Liberty Cabin on Mt. Chocorua Mount Adams, New Hampshire Mount Adams, New Hampshire

Welcome to the Newenglandwaterfalls.com guide to backpacking in New Hampshire!

New Hampshire offers some of the finest backpacking in the United States. Some of the most exhilarating sections of the Appalachian Trail are found here, and so is world-famous Mt. Washington and the Presidential Range. The majority of the 800,000-acre White Mountain National Forest is located within this state, offering over 1,000 miles of well-signed, easy-to-follow trails, many of which are excellent for backpacking. The state features 8 full-service backcountry huts, over 40 remote lean-tos/shelters, plus over 100 established tenting areas where you can legally camp in the backcountry.

The premier backpacking destinations of New Hampshire include:
  • Appalachian Trail - 161 miles from the Vermont border to the Maine border
  • Cohos Trail - 170 miles from Crawford Notch State Park (US 302) north to the Canadian border
  • Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway - 50 miles from Mt. Monadnock to Mt. Sunapee
  • Wildcat-Carter-Moriah Range - White Mountain National Forest
  • Franconia Ridge / Franconia Range - White Mountain National Forest
  • Pemigewasset Wilderness - White Mountain National Forest
  • Presidential Range - White Mountain National Forest
  • Presidential Range-Dry River Wilderness - White Mountain National Forest
  • Great Gulf Wilderness - White Mountain National Forest
  • Wild River Wilderness - White Mountain National Forest
If you are planning or hoping to go backpacking in New Hampshire, pick up a copy of the latest edition of these long-trusted and excellent guidebooks: AMC's Best Backpacking in New England (2nd edition), AMC's White Mountain Guide, and the AMC's Southern New Hampshire Trail Guide.

Here is a list of the fantastic backpacking opportunities in New Hampshire. If you think I've missed any of the best backpacking trips in this state, or if you believe any of this information needs updating, please email me @ gparsons66@hotmail.com or make a comment at the bottom of this page using the Facebook social plugin.





MOUNTAIN / DESTINATION AREA / REGION SCENIC RATING TYPICAL # OF NIGHTS LODGING TYPE CROWD LEVEL NOTES & DESCRIPTION (is a fee charged?) MORE INFO
13 Falls White Mountains / Kancamagus Highway 8 / 10 1-2 tent sites very high to extremely high a relatively flat backpacking trip to an area full of several premier backcountry swimming holes (some of the best remote pools in New England); requires an 8-mile one-way hike in from the Lincoln-Woods trailhead off the Kancamagus Highway (NH 112); separate fees are charged for parking and camping (bring cash for both); don't miss the short 0.8 mile round-trip detour to Franconia Falls (an interesting set of waterfalls, natural waterslides, and good swimming pools) at mile 2.8; the pools at 13 Falls are extremely cold so plan your visit for 80+ degree days if possible; from 13 Falls, you can also continue backpacking on to Mt. Garfield, Owl's Head (although the trail from the 13 Falls to the turn off for the Owl's Head slide is often very tough to follow), Galehead Mountain, and several other on-trail and off-trail destinations in the Pemigewasset Wilderness (a fee is charged) more info
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more info
AMC Hut Traverse (Lonesome Lake Hut to Carter Notch Hut) White Mountains 10 / 10 8 nights (assuming one night per hut) AMC huts extremely high, but you can reserve in advance stay in up to eight AMC huts on a 50-mile traverse (which includes about 17,000 feet of elevation gain) that covers some of the most spectacular terrain in the White Mountains (or in the United States for that matter); traverse is along the Appalachian Trail from Lonesome Lake Hut in Franconia Notch (off I-93) to Carter Notch Hut in Pinkham Notch (of NH 16), or vice versa; reserve all the huts at once (discounts may be available) and many months in advance (preferably as soon as the AMC opens reservations for the year); take that some huts open and close earlier for the season versus other huts (Lakes of the Clouds Hut typically opens the latest and closes the earliest); come prepared for potentially nasty whether as there are several sections that are extremely exposed to the elements-waterproof jackets and warm clothes are a must in all seasons (a fee is charged) more info
Baldface Mountains / Emerald Pool / Baldface Shelter White Mountains / Evans Notch 10 / 10 1 shelter very high this is a classic, challenging loop over the summits of both South Baldface & North Baldface; most hike this loop clockwise in order to ascend the steepest part of the loop; each of the Baldfaces offers outstanding views; most will agree that this is the best hike in the Evans Notch region of the White Mountains; do not attempt this hike when wet as the ledges on South Baldface can be slippery and potentially dangerous; plentiful blueberries in season (typically late July through early August); don't miss swimming and cliff-jumping at the cold but gorgeous Emerald Pool on your way out (best on an 80+ degree day); access via  a well-marked trailhead on the east side of NH 113 north of Chatham & Fryeburg n/a
Black Mountain / Black Mountain Cabin White Mountains / Jackson 5 / 10 1 historic cabin
(fully enclosed)
very high, but you can reserve in advance stay in a historic USFS cabin that is open year-round; reservations required (book at www.reserveamerica.com); haul up fire-wood for the cabin's small wood stove; excellent backcountry skiing in winter; some views are available on the trails above the cabin, but I hear rumors the views are quickly becoming grown-in (a fee is charged) n/a
Blue Brook White Mountains / Evans Notch 5 / 10 1 tent sites low this is an extremely remote tent site located in the Wild River Wilderness; there used to be a shelter here, but it was removed because this area became a designated wilderness area; if you are seeking solitude, this area will probably provide it for you more info
Bonds Traverse / Guyot Shelter White Mountains / Lincoln & Twin Mountain 10 / 10 1-2 shelter, tent sites extremely high a trip over "The Bonds" includes the fantastic & wild peaks of West Bond, Mount Bond and Bondcliff; these peaks are often hiked together as part of a long and tough one-day or backpacking traverse from a trailhead on Zealand Road (off US 302) to the Lincoln Woods trailhead (off NH 112), or vice versa (with a quick side trip to Zealand Mountains en route); many will hike The Bonds as part of a 1 to 2+ night overnight trip (lodging available at Zealand Falls Hut & Galehead Hut; shelter & backcountry tenting available at Guyot Shelter); views from all three of the Bonds are wildly spectacular; do not attempt hiking the ridge between Mount Bond and Bondcliff in foul weather; the photo-opportunity from Bondcliff is legendary; sunsets from West Bond can be awesome (and aren't too far from the campsites and shelter at Guyot Shelter); one of the most memorable backpacking adventures in the Northeast; avoid on weekends as this place is a complete zoo from May through October (a fee is charged) more info
Bridal Veil Falls / Coppermine Shelter White Mountains / Franconia 8 / 10 1 shelter low to moderate stay at a rustic lean-to within 0.2 miles of the famous & scenic falls; several unofficial campsites are also across the river if the shelter is full; 2.3 relatively easy miles (one-way) along the Coppermine Trail to reach the shelter; a great introductory backpacking trip, especially for families; trailhead is on Coppermine Road off NH 116; the next morning, hike out early and visit Polly's Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill (you can thank me later for this tip) more info
Cannon Mountain / Lonesome Lake / Lonesome Lake Hut White Mountains / Franconia 9 / 10 1-2 AMC hut extremely high, but you can reserve in advance stay in the westernmost AMC hut (open year-round); Cannon Mountain is a 4.2 mile round-trip day hike from the hut; the hut is very popular with families since it is situated close to picturesque Lonesome Lake, which has fantastic views of the Franconia Range; Cannon Mountain has excellent views from its summit fire tower, but you will likely share them with tourists who arrive via a Tram from the ski resort below (a fee is charged) n/a
Carter Dome / Mt. Hight / Carter Notch Hut White Mountains / Pinkham Notch 8 / 10 1-2 AMC hut extremely high, but you can reserve in advance bag a 4000-footer (Carter Dome) and one of the best views in the White Mountains at Mt. Hight on a 9.8 mile lollipop-style loop; reserve the hut with the AMC many months in advance; day trip also possible to the 'Wildcats' (Wildcat A and Wildcat D, both of which are 4000-footers) (a fee is charged) n/a
Cohos Trail / Baldhead Lean-to North Woods 7 / 10 1 shelter low this shelter sleeps 6; nice but semi-restricted views right from the shelter; there is a reliable water source about 0.5 mile below the shelter n/a
Cohos Trail / Hermit Shelter North Woods 5 / 10 1 shelter low this small shelter sleeps 6; no views from the shelter; from here, it is a day's hike either south to the Percy Tentsite or north to the Baldhead Lean-to n/a
Cohos Trail / Panorama Lean-to North Woods 7 / 10 1 shelter low this shelter sleeps 8-10 and is reached via a steep 3-mile hike on the Sanguinary Ridge Trail and Sanguinary Summit Trail from Dixville Notch; nice but semi-restricted views right from the shelter; there is a reliable water source about 0.1 mile below the shelter n/a
Doublehead Mountain / Doublehead Cabin White Mountains / Jackson 8 / 10 1-2 historic cabin
(fully enclosed)
very high, but you can reserve in advance stay in a historic USFS cabin that is open year-round; reservations required (book at www.reserveamerica.com); haul up fire-wood for the cabin's wood stove; excellent backcountry skiing in winter; great views a short distance behind the cabin and more views are only a short-hike away; there are three trails that you can use to create a loop up to the cabin, including the Doublehead Ski Trail, the Old Path and the New Path; I prefer this cabin to the Black Mountain Cabin because the views are better here (a fee is charged) n/a
Dry River Wilderness / Dry River Shelter #3 White Mountains / Crawford Notch 6 / 10 1 shelter, tent sites low stay @ several designated USFS campsites, Dry River Shelter #3, or do stealth camping (following all wilderness camping rules, of course); don't miss the remote and beautiful Dry River Falls along the way (even many seasoned White Mountain hikers haven't been here); although there aren't many famous destinations within this wilderness, hiking here is usually very quiet and peaceful more info
Ethan Pond / Ethan Pond Shelter White Mountains / Crawford Notch 8.5 / 10 1-2 shelter, tent sites moderate to high Ethan Pond has a lean-to (sleeps 8) and some overflow tent sites; additional tent sites rumored to be close to nearby Shoal Pond as well; the easiest way to hike into Ethan Pond is via the Ethan Pond Trail from Willey House Station Road off US-302 in Crawford Notch State Park, however there are other access options (including the Kedron Flume Trail and also from Zealand Notch); many different varieties of hiking loops can be derived from the fast network of trails in this area (consult a map to see all your options) (a fee is charged) n/a
Flat Mountain Pond / Flat Mountain Pond Shelter Intervale / Squam Lakes 8 / 10 1 shelter, tent sites moderate to high shelter sleeps 6-8 hikers; day-trip is possible to Sandwich Dome, which is one of the most interesting mountains in NH that is under 4,000-feet; Flat Mountain Pond is one of the premier backcountry ponds in the White Mountains; unfortunately, there are many leeches in the pond, so don't swim there n/a
Franconia Brook East White Mountains / Kancamagus Highway 5 / 10 1 tent sites moderate to high although there is no fee to camp here, a $3/day parking fee is charged at the Lincoln-Woods trailhead (off NH 112 just east of Lincoln); take note that you cannot connect this trail to the primary trails in the Pemigewasset Wilderness (in other words, camping here will NOT give you a head start on hiking Bondcliff, #13 Falls, Owl's Head, etc.) n/a
Galehead Mountain / Galehead Hut White Mountains / Twin Mountain 8 / 10 1-2 AMC hut extremely high, but you can reserve in advance day-trips to Mt. Garfield, South Twin Mountain and/or North Twin Mountain are common; can also do an out-and-back day hike to "The Bonds" but this can be challenging as the terrain is often rough and rocky (and you will have to hike up South Twin Mountain twice); Galehead Hut is probably my favorite of the AMC huts because it is central to so many awesome peaks and it has a beautiful view right from its front deck; Galehead Mountain is an easy 0.5 mile hike (one-way) from the hut; easiest access to the hut is via the Gale River Trail from Gale River Road (off US-3), although you can also reach the hut by hiking along the Garfield Ridge Trail after summiting Mt. Garfield (a fee is charged) more info
Kearsarge North White Mountains / North Conway 9 / 10 1 fire tower low to moderate there are gorgeous views of the eastern White Mountains from the enclosed fire tower on the top; trailhead is on Hurricane Road off NH-16 just north of North Conway; ledges can be difficult when icy or wet; one of the finest 1/2 day hikes in the White Mountains; bring a sleeping bag and sleeping pad and stay in the empty fire tower overnight; a very popular snowshoe hike in winter (the road and trailhead are usually plowed) n/a
Kinsman Ridge - full traverse White Mountains / Lincoln & Franconia 8 / 10 1-2 shelters, tent sites, AMC hut high to extremely high a traverse of the Kinsmans is typically done by following the Appalachian Trail north from NH 112 over Mt. Wolf and both of the Kinsmans (South & North), past the AMC Lonesome Lake Hut & Lonesome Lake, and then down to the hikers trailhead at the Lafayette Campground off I-93; two shelters (with overflow tent sites) are available en route (Eliza Brook Shelter & Kinsman Pond Shelter), and you can also stay at the AMC Lonesome Lake Hut as well if you want (make reservations months in advance) (a fee is charged) n/a
Magalloway Mountain / Watchman's Cabin North Woods 8 / 10 1 cabin moderate, but you can reserve in advance stay in a historic cabin that is below a fire tower (beautiful views, especially during foliage); reserve online at www.reserveamerica.com (Lake Francis State Park); Magalloway Mountain is one of the premier hikes in the North Woods (a fee is charged) n/a
Mahoosuc Trail / Gentian Pond North Woods / Gorham unknown 1 shelter, tent sites moderate this shelter & tent site can be reached via a 11.8 mile hike up the Mahoosuc Trail, or you can take a shortcut and hike 3.5 miles up the Austin Brook Trail (both trailheads are along North Road in Gorham); shelter & tent sites are very close to the pond n/a
Mahoosuc Trail / Trident Col North Woods / Gorham unknown 1 tent sites low to moderate Trident Col is the first tent site you encounter when hiking the Appalachian Trail or Mahoosuc Trail north from their respective trailheads on North Road in Gorham; this tent site is approximately 6.6 miles from North Road; this tent site is far less interesting than other shelters and tent sites along the Mahoosuc Trail, but it can make a good first-night destination if you are hiking the entire 31.1 mile Mahoosuc Trail n/a
Mahoosuc Trail - full traverse North Woods / Gorham 10 / 10 4-5 shelters, tent sites moderate a traverse of the Mahoosuc Trail takes you over 31.1 miles of tough terrain from North Road in Gorham, NH to ME 26 in Grafton Notch State Park in Maine; almost all of this trip coincides with the famed Appalachian Trail; be prepared for extremely challenging terrain, including lots of boulder scrambling and what is frequently called "the toughest mile on the Appalachian Trail"; overnight accommodations include (these are listed south to north): Trident Col Tent site, Gential Pond Shelter, Carlo Col Shelter, Full Goose Shelter, and Speck Pond Shelter (fee charged for this shelter); you can cut this traverse in mileage by using some of the trailheads off Success Pond Road if you don't want to do all 31.1 miles; several attractive ponds passed en route, along with several excellent viewpoints (make sure to do short spur trail to the summit of Old Speck near the end); it is recommended that you only plan to hike 6-8 miles a day along the Mahoosuc Trail because it is such a rough trail (you can always continue further if you have the energy--just don't plan on doing 10 miles a day if you have never hiked in this area) n/a
Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway Trail Southern New Hampshire 8 / 10 3-5 shelters, tent site moderate As of 2014, there are 5 shelters and one tent site along this trail, which runs for nearly 50 miles from the summit of Mt. Monadnock to the summit of Mount Sunapee; more info can be found at the official website of the trail: http://www.msgtc.org n/a
Mountain Pond / Mountain Pond Shelter White Mountains / Evans Notch 8 / 10 1 shelter moderate the original trailhead is no longer accessible since the access road (Slippery Pond Road) was heavily damaged during Tropical Storm Irene; a long but easy road-walk is now required to reach the old trailhead (or you can mountain bike it); a 2.7 mile loop trail encircles the entire pond (which is one of the finest backcountry ponds in the White Mountains); total mileage is now approximately 8.5-9.0 miles round-trip n/a
Mountain Top Shelter New Ipswich unknown 1 shelter low to moderate one of two shelters located along the Wapack Trail (both of which are located within property owned by Windblown Cross Country Skiing); reservations are required (call 603-878-2869 to make a reservation); the Wapack Trail runs for 21-miles from Mount Watatic in Ashburnham, MA to North Pack Monadnock in Greenfield, NH; the Mountain Top Shelter sleeps 6; more information can be found here: http://windblownxc.com/accommodations/shelters-camping.html  (a fee is charged) more info
Mt. Adams / Crag Camp White Mountains / Gorham 10 / 10 1-2 RMC cabin extremely high a favorite New Hampshire peak of many hikers, Mt. Adams is ruggedly spectacular; offers alpine views for miles in all directions; there are over a dozen loop options to choose from when climbing this peak; do not attempt in foul weather as you could easily get lost or injured; look at a trail map very closely to choose trails that see some of the waterfalls of Appalachia on the way up (or down); can combine with Mt. Madison or Mt. Jefferson, but doing two of three of these mountains in one day is very, very, difficult; you will absolutely want to bring a map for this one, especially if you want to see some waterfalls en route; typically snow-free from early June to early October (like most of the big mountains in NH); most trails begin at the well-marked 'Appalachia' hikers parking lot on US 2 in Randolph; Crag Camp is probably the premier RMC shelter/hut/cabin, and it can fill up quickly on weekends (a fee is charged) more info
Mt. Adams / Gray Knob White Mountains / Gorham 10 / 10 1-2 RMC cabin extremely high a favorite New Hampshire peak of many hikers, Mt. Adams is ruggedly spectacular; offers alpine views for miles in all directions; there are over a dozen loop options to choose from when climbing this peak; do not attempt in foul weather as you could easily get lost or injured; look at a trail map very closely to choose trails that see some of the waterfalls of Appalachia on the way up (or down); can combine with Mt. Madison or Mt. Jefferson, but doing two of three of these mountains in one day is very, very, difficult; you will absolutely want to bring a map for this one, especially if you want to see some waterfalls en route; typically snow-free from early June to early October (like most of the big mountains in NH); most trails begin at the well-marked 'Appalachia' hikers parking lot on US 2 in Randolph; Gray Knob is my 2nd favorite RMC shelter/hut/cabin, and it also can fill up quickly on weekends (a fee is charged) more info
Mt. Adams / Log Cabin White Mountains / Gorham 10 / 10 1 RMC cabin very high a favorite New Hampshire peak of many hikers, Mt. Adams is ruggedly spectacular; offers alpine views for miles in all directions; there are over a dozen loop options to choose from when climbing this peak; do not attempt in foul weather as you could easily get lost or injured; look at a trail map very closely to choose trails that see some of the waterfalls of Appalachia on the way up (or down); can combine with Mt. Madison or Mt. Jefferson, but doing two of three of these mountains in one day is very, very, difficult; you will absolutely want to bring a map for this one, especially if you want to see some waterfalls en route; typically snow-free from early June to early October (like most of the big mountains in NH); most trails begin at the well-marked 'Appalachia' hikers parking lot on US 2 in Randolph; The Log Cabin (sleeps 10) is only 2.5 mile hike from Lowe's Store on US-2, so it is a good choice for beginner/family-friendly backpackers (a fee is charged) n/a
Mt. Adams / The Perch White Mountains / Gorham 10 / 10 1 RMC shelter & tent sites very high a favorite New Hampshire peak of many hikers, Mt. Adams is ruggedly spectacular; offers alpine views for miles in all directions; there are over a dozen loop options to choose from when climbing this peak; do not attempt in foul weather as you could easily get lost or injured; look at a trail map very closely to choose trails that see some of the waterfalls of Appalachia on the way up (or down); can combine with Mt. Madison or Mt. Jefferson, but doing two of three of these mountains in one day is very, very, difficult; you will absolutely want to bring a map for this one, especially if you want to see some waterfalls en route; typically snow-free from early June to early October (like most of the big mountains in NH); most trails begin at the well-marked 'Appalachia' hikers parking lot on US 2 in Randolph; The Perch is located on the Perch Path, which is close to the Israel Ridge Path and Randolph Path (a fee is charged) more info
Mt. Cabot / Cabot Cabin White Mountains / Berlin 7 / 10 1 cabin moderate The Cabot Cabin is located only 0.4 mile below the true summit of Mt. Cabot; the cabin is first-come, first served; take note that the Mt. Cabot Trail is still closed and is highly unlikely to re-open in the next few years, so you will have to hike here either from Unknown Pond (along the Kilkenny Ridge Trail) or via the Bunnell Notch Trail from the Berlin Fish Hatchery; if you are hiking to the cabin from the Berlin Fish Hatchery, I recommend doing a 10.9 mile loop to also visit The Horn (good views) and the peaceful Unknown Pond (this loop can be done clockwise or counterclockwise) more info
Mt. Cabot / Unknown Pond White Mountains / Berlin 8 / 10 1 tent sites moderate these tent sites are located near Unknown Pond (which is now quite well-known I should add); the pond can be reached from several different points, including from the north (Mill Brook Road trailhead), from the the south (Unknown Pond Trail from York Pond Road / Berlin Fish Hatchery) or as you descend Mt. Cabot as part of a loop (Kilkenny Ridge Trail); I recommend that you do a 10.9 mile loop over Mt. Cabot, starting and ending at the Berlin Fish Hatchery, including a 1-night stay at Unknown Pond after summiting Mt. Cabot and The Horn; the best views in this area are from The Horn, but take note that by 2020 or so, the views will be extremely limited as the trees are growing taller and taller each year (some of the view is already obstructed) more info
Mt. Cardigan / High Cabin Lakes Region / Central NH 9 / 10 1 cabin very high, but you can reserve in advance the AMC High Cabin is located about 0.6 mile below the exceptionally-scenic summit of Mt. Cardigan and 0.4 mile below its south summit; the cabin sleeps up to 12 hikers on bunk beds and it is rented exclusively (reservations are required well in advance); the cabin is open year-round and it has a seasonal wood-stove (although the wood-stove can only be used in winter); the cabin is located 2.4 miles from the AMC Cardigan Lodge; no pets are allowed and you'll need to haul up all the water and food you'll need (a propane stove and various pots and pans are provided); Mt. Cardigan is the finest peak in central New Hampshire and so staying at this cabin is highly recommended (a fee is charged) n/a
Mt. Cardigan / Crag Shelter Lakes Region / Central NH 9 / 10 1 shelter moderate to high this shelter is located on the Mowglis Trail north of the Mowglis Trail / Manning Trail junction on Firescrew Mountain (this is all north of the summit of Mt. Cardigan)> n/a
Mt. Chocorua / Camp Penacook White Mountains / Conway 9 / 10 1 shelter, tent sites very high Camp Penacook (first come, first served) is located along the Piper Trail about 1.5 miles below the open, rocky summit of Mt. Chocorua; great views can be obtained a short distance above the shelter more info
Mt. Chocorua / Jim Liberty Cabin White Mountains / Conway 9 / 10 1 cabin very high The Jim Liberty Cabin is located off the Liberty Trail only 0.5 mile below the summit of Mt. Chocorua; huge chains are in place to ensure that the cabin is not damaged during extreme storms (very cool photo opp!); sleeps a total of 9 hikers more info
Mt. Garfield / Garfield Ridge Shelter White Mountains / Twin Mountain 10 / 10 1-2 shelter, tent sites extremely high stay in one of the most well-constructed, attractive log-based shelters you can find anywhere in New England (it was built in 2011); Mt. Garfield has fantastic views of the Pemigewasset Wilderness and some of the peaks of the Franconia Range; access is via the Mt. Garfield Trail from Gale River Road (off US-3), and then turn left onto the Garfield Ridge Trail and descend to the shelter; Mt. Garfield is one of the best 4000-footers in New Hampshire for good reason! expect heavy crowds at this gem of a shelter; day trips are possible to Galehead Mountain and Mt. Lafayette (both of these are 4000-footers) and also #13 falls for a dip in its pristine swimming holes (a fee is charged) more info
Mt. Isolation / Rocky Branch Shelter #1 White Mountains / Crawford Notch 6 / 10 1 shelter, tent sites low to moderate shelter sleeps 6-8 hikers; this shelter is located near the junction of the Rocky Branch Trail and Stairs Col Trail; take note that the Rocky Branch Trail from the end of Rocky Branch Road (Jericho Road) to the shelter is currently closed (as of October 2014), so you will need to access this shelter from the west or from the north; ; can combine with other shelters in the Presidential Range-Dry River Wilderness to make this a multi-day trip n/a
Mt. Isolation / Rocky Branch Shelter #2 White Mountains / Crawford Notch 6 / 10 1 shelter, tent sites low to moderate this shelter is located at the junction of the Rocky Branch Trail the Isolation Trail; take note that the Rocky Branch Trail from the end of Rocky Branch Road (Jericho Road) to the shelter is currently closed (as of October 2014), so you will need to access this shelter from the Rocky Branch Trail trailhead on NH 16; the summit of Mt. Isolation is 3.5 miles from this shelter; can combine with other shelters in the Presidential Range-Dry River Wilderness to make this a multi-day trip n/a
Mt. Langdon Shelter White Mountains / Jackson 6 / 10 1 shelter low to moderate this shelter is located at the junction of the Mt. Langdon Trail and the Mt. Stanton Trail; shelter sleeps 6-8; the easiest access to this shelter is from the Mt. Langdon Trail to a right onto the Mt. Stanton Trail n/a
Mt. Liberty / Liberty Spring White Mountains / Lincoln 9 / 10 1 tent sites extremely high Mt. Liberty offers wide-open views of most of Franconia Notch and the Pemigewasset Wilderness from its exposed summit; many hikers add an out-and-back trip to Mt. Flume (another one of NH's 4000-footers) after visiting the summit of Mt. Liberty; access via the Franconia Notch Bike Path and the Liberty Springs Trail/Appalachian Trail (the Whitehouse Trailhead is exit 34A off I-93) (a fee is charged) n/a
Mt. Lincoln / Mt. Lafayette / Greenleaf Hut White Mountains / Franconia 10 / 10 1-2 AMC Hut extremely high, but you can reserve in advance most would agree that a Mt. Lafayette and Mt. Lincoln loop is best loop hike in the western side of the White Mountains; the classic loop is counterclockwise: Falling Waters Trail > Franconia Ridge Trail > Greenleaf Trail > Old Bridal Path, but you can also do this clockwise as well; features several miles of fantastic open ridgeline hiking; three waterfalls are seen along the Falling Waters Trail, including the stunning Cloudland Falls; do not attempt in foul weather, as many hikers have unfortunately learned this the hard way over the years; reserve the AMC Greenleaf Hut months in advance; trailhead is off I-93 heading north from Lincoln (although you can also park at the parking lots in front of the Lafayette Campground off I-93 heading south and walk under I-93 through a pedestrian tunnel); the hut sits below the summit of Mt. Lafayette on the Greenleaf Trail (a fee is charged) more info
Mt. Madison / Madison Spring Hut White Mountains / Gorham 10 / 10 1-2 AMC hut extremely high, but you can reserve in advance the AMC Madison Spring Hut is located just above treeline and only 0.5 mile below the magnificent open summit of Mt. Madison; from the hut, don't miss the very short walk to Star Lake to see beautiful views across the lake back to the summit cone of Mt. Madison; Mt. Madison is an alpine mountain, so do not attempt in foul weather; day-trips to Mt. Adams are also possible and very commonly done from this hut (just be aware that most trails are quite steep and very rocky in this area) (a fee is charged) more info
Mt. Madison / Osgood White Mountains / Pinkham Notch 8 / 10 1 tent sites moderate to high the Osgood tent site is located just outside the Great Gulf Wilderness; access is typically via the Great Gulf Trail (from US 302) to the Osgood Trail; the tent site sits 2.6 miles below the open summit of Mt. Madison; Mt. Madison is an alpine mountain, so do not attempt in foul weather;  n/a
Mt. Madison / Valley Way  White Mountains / Gorham 9 / 10 1 tent sites extremely high the Valley Way tent sites are located 3.1 miles up the Valley Way Trail; the tent sites are typically accessed from the Appalachia trailhead on US 2 and they are located 1.2 miles below the summit of Mt. Madison; Mt. Madison is an alpine mountain, so do not attempt in foul weather; you can also hike to Mt. Adams from here, but it's a challenging hike n/a
Mt. Moosilauke / Beaver Brook Shelter White Mountains / Lincoln 9 / 10 1 shelter, tent sites very high Mt. Moosilauke is one of the most famous of NH's 4000-footers; wide-open alpine views; several different route options available; the easiest is the 7.5 mile loop up Gorge Brook and returning via Carriage Road and Snapper Trail (no backcountry lodging available); a more interesting route is via the steep but waterfall-infused Beaver Brook Trail; do not attempt this mountain in poor weather as there is some above-treeline terrain ; the Beaver Brook Trail coincides with the Appalachian Trail and the well-marked trailhead is on NH 112 west of Lincoln more info
Mt. Moriah / Imp Shelter White Mountains / Gorham 8 / 10 1 shelter, tent sites moderate to high the Imp Shelter is located along the Carter-Moriah Trail/Appalachian Trail, 2.1 miles southwest of the summit of Mt. Moriah; easiest access to the shelter is via the Stony Brook Trail from NH 16 (a fee is charged) n/a
Mt. Moriah / Rattle River Shelter White Mountains / Gorham 6 / 10 1 shelter, tent sites moderate to high in hot weather, enjoy the swimming holes that are within a very short distance of this Appalachian Trail lean-to; Mt. Moriah is a few miles from this shelter, but the hike is interesting, especially on the Kenduskeag Trail with its dozens and dozens of wooden boardwalks n/a
Mt. Pierce / Mizpah Spring Hut White Mountains / Crawford Notch 8 / 10 1-2 AMC hut extremely high, but you can reserve in advance one of the easier of the AMC huts to reach, Mizpah Spring Hut serves a great base camp for hiking several nearby 4000-footers: Mt. Pierce (0.8 mile away) Mt. Eisenhower (2.4 miles away), and Mt. Jackson (1.6 miles away); make reservations several months in advance; if the hut is full, the Nauman tent site is nearby; day trips are also possible to the beautiful but remote Dry River Falls from here (but be prepared for the hike back up to the hut) (a fee is charged) n/a
Mt. Pierce / Nauman White Mountains / Crawford Notch 8 / 10 1-2 tent sites extremely high the Nauman tent site is located near the AMC Mizpah Spring Hut; this tent site serves a great base camp for hiking several nearby 4000-footers: Mt. Pierce (0.8 mile away) Mt. Eisenhower (2.4 miles away), and Mt. Jackson (1.6 miles away); day trips are also possible to the beautiful but remote Dry River Falls from here (but be prepared for the hike back up to the hut) (a fee is charged) more info
Mt. Washington / Great Gulf  White Mountains / Pinkham Notch 10 / 10 1 tent sites moderate the Great Gulf Trail has several official campsites spread out along its route through the Great Gulf Wilderness; several other trails branch out to climb Mt. Adams, Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Washington more info
Mt. Washington / Harvard Cabin (winter only) White Mountains / Pinkham Notch 10 / 10 1-2 cabin, tent sites extremely high the Harvard Cabin & its tent sites are only open in the winter; the cabin is most commonly used by ice-climbers; access to the cabin is via the Tuckerman Ravine Trail and Huntington Ravine Trail (a fee is charged) n/a
Mt. Washington / Hermit Lake Shelter White Mountains / Pinkham Notch 10 / 10 1-2 shelters, tent sites extremely high as of 2014, the Hermit Lake complex had 8 shelters and 3 tent sites that could accommodate a total of 86 people; the shelter and tent sites is located very close to the base of beautiful and famous Tuckerman Ravine; permits must be obtained at the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, which sits at the base of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail (which is the trail you take to the shelters and tent sites); open year-round (unlike the Harvard Cabin, which is only open in winter); dogs are not allowed here overnight; Tuckerman Ravine can typically be hiked from mid-July to mid-October and is typically skied from late March/early April through late April or early May (a fee is charged) n/a
Mt. Washington / Lakes of the Clouds Hut White Mountains / Twin Mountain 10 / 10 1-2 AMC hut extremely high, but you can reserve in advance Lakes of the Clouds Hut has the finest views of all the huts and is central to so many adventures in the Presidential Range; the hut is completely full for most nights during the summer and so probably deserves its nickname "Lakes of the Crowds"; views from the hut itself are outstanding, but even better vistas can be obtained on the shores of the two nearby lakes and also on Mt. Monroe (a 4000-footer that is only 0.5 mile from the hut); Mt. Washington is only 1.1 miles away; make reservations many months in advance; day trips also possible to several 4000-footers, including Mt. Monroe, Mt. Eisenhower, Mt. Clay (not a 4000-footer, but has incredible views) and Mt. Jefferson (a fee is charged) n/a
Mt. Whiteface / Mt. Passaconaway White Mountains / Squam Lakes 8 / 10 1 tent sites moderate to high there are several unofficial campsites below the summit of Mt. Passaconaway; I recommend doing a  12-mile loop to hike both mountains; Mt. Whiteface has excellent south-facing views from its open ledges, and Mt. Passaconaway has several viewpoints near the summit (the best one is on a 0.3 mile spur trail heading north from near the summit) more info
Pemi Loop - East Side White Mountains / Lincoln & Franconia 10 / 10 2-3 huts, shelters, tent sites extremely high the entire Pemi-loop is 31.5 miles of hiking perfection, but you can still come away very satisfied by only hiking 1/2 of it; to hike the east side of the loop, you have several lodging & camping options, including: #13 Falls tent sites, Garfield Ridge Shelter & tent sites, AMC Galehead Hut, and Guyot Shelter and tent sites (plus some unofficial campsites along the way); I recommend starting and ending at the Lincoln Woods trailhead (off NH 112) and visiting all the summits of Bondcliff, Mt. Bond, West Bond, South Twin and Galehead Mountain; do not attempt this loop in foul weather as several miles of terrain are above treeline (a fee is charged) more info
Pemi Loop - Full Loop White Mountains / Lincoln & Franconia 10 / 10 3-4 huts, shelters, tent sites extremely high the entire Pemi-loop is 31.5 miles of hiking perfection; there are many lodging & camping options en route (consult a map to see them all); I recommend starting and ending at the Lincoln Woods trailhead (off NH 112) and visiting all the 4000-footer summits along the way (including Galehead Mountain and North Twin, which are located on spur trails); do not attempt this loop in foul weather as several miles of terrain are above treeline (a fee is charged) more info
Pemi Loop - West Side White Mountains / Lincoln & Franconia 10 / 10 2-3 huts, shelters, tent sites extremely high the entire Pemi-loop is 31.5 miles of hiking perfection, but you can still come away very satisfied by only hiking 1/2 of it; to hike the west side of the loop, you have several lodging & camping options, including: #13 Falls tent sites, Garfield Ridge Shelter & tent sites, AMC Greenleaf Hut and Liberty Spring tent sites; I recommend starting and ending at the Lincoln Woods trailhead (off NH 112) and visiting all the summits of Mt. Flume, Mt. Liberty, Mt. Lincoln, Mt. Lafayette, Mt. Garfield; do not attempt this loop in foul weather as several miles of terrain are above treeline (a fee is charged) more info
Percy Peaks / Percy Loop Campsite North Woods 8 / 10 1 tent site low to moderate one wooden platform for tenting; excellent views on North Percy Peak; avoid North Percy Peak when it's wet or icy (steep slabs); South Percy Peak is mostly wooded; these trails are located in the remote Nash Stream Forest, which is north of the main attractions of the White Mountains; trailhead is off Nash Stream Road (off NH 110), which is typically open from mid-to-late May through early-to-late October n/a
Perkins Notch White Mountains / Pinkham Notch & Evans Notch 5 / 10 1 tent sites very low this is an extremely remote tent site located in the Wild River Wilderness near No Ketchum Pond; there used to be a shelter here, but it was removed because this area became a designated wilderness area; if you are looking for solitude, this area will probably provide it for you more info
Province Pond / Province Pond Shelter White Mountains / Pinkham Notch & Evans Notch 7 / 10 1 shelter low to moderate this 6-8 person shelter is adjacent to Province Pond, which offers fine views right from the shelter; access via a 1.6 mile hike on the Province Brook Trail (trailhead is at the end of Peaked Hill Road (FS 450), which is off South Chatham Road and Hurricane Mountain Road (just north of North Conway); this is one of the quietest areas in the White Mountains; good views of Mt. Shaw from the pond n/a
Rogers Ledge Tent site North Woods 8 / 10 1 tent sites moderate this tent site is located along the Kilkenny Ridge Trail; Rogers Ledge is one of the finest viewpoints in the White Mountains; the tent site can be reached via the Mill Brook Trail from York Pond Road or Kilkenny Ridge Trail from South Pond Rd; day trips are possible to Unknown Pond and even Mt. Cabot if you are up for a long hike more info
Sawyer Pond / Sawyer Pond Shelter White Mountains / Crawford Notch / Kancamagus 7 / 10 1 shelter moderate to high Sawyer Pond can be reached via the Sawyer Pond Trail from either Sawyer River Road (off US-302) or NH 112 (Kancamagus Highway); the shelter is only feet from the waters' edge and has a great clear view of the pond n/a
Smarts Mountain Shelter Appalachian Trail 8/10 1 shelter, tent sites moderate to high enclosed shelter just below the enclosed firetower and the wooded summit of Smarts Mountain (which reopened in 2016 and has fantastic views) n/a
South Kinsman / North Kinsman / Eliza Brook Shelter White Mountains / Lincoln & Franconia 7 / 10 1 shelter, tent sites high the recently constructed Eliza Brook Shelter is located along the Kinsman Ridge Trail a few miles south of South Kinsman Mountain; small but pretty cascades are nearby (Eliza Brook Cascades); access to the shelter is possible via several routes, including Mt. Kinsman Trail from NH 116, Reel Brook Trail from NH 116, and also by hiking the entire Kinsman Ridge Trail from NH 112 n/a
South Kinsman / North Kinsman / Kinsman Pond Shelter White Mountains / Lincoln & Franconia 7 / 10 1 shelter, tent sites very high the Kinsman Pond Shelter is located along the eastern shore of scenic Kinsman Pond; several trails converge near the shelter, so there are multiple access routes you can use to reach the shelter (tip: I think the Fishin' Jimmy Trail is the worst trail in the White Mountains because it is often rough and wet) (a fee is charged) n/a
South Kinsman / North Kinsman / Lonesome Lake Hut White Mountains / Lincoln & Franconia 8 / 10 1-2 AMC hut extremely high, but you can reserve in advance stay in the westernmost AMC hut (open year-round); day trips to the Kinsmans are possible from the hut, although take note that the Fishin' Jimmy Trail is rough and often wet; the hut is very popular with families since it is situated close to picturesque Lonesome Lake, which has fantastic views of the Franconia Range; you can also hike to Cannon Mountain from the hut, and that mountain has excellent views from its summit fire tower (however, you will likely share the views with tourists who arrive via a Tram from the ski resort below) (a fee is charged) n/a
Three Ponds Shelter Rumney unknown 1 shelter low to moderate this 8-person shelter is located near the edge of one of three ponds that sit between the peaks of Carr Mountain and Mt. Kineo; trailhead is located on Stinson Lake Road, which is one of the quieter areas of the White Mountains (many hikers have never been to this section of the national forest) n/a
Valley View Shelter New Ipswich unknown 1 shelter, tent sites low to moderate one of two shelters located along the Wapack Trail (both of which are located within property owned by Windblown Cross Country Skiing); reservations are required (call 603-878-2869 to make a reservation); the Wapack Trail runs for 21-miles from Mount Watatic in Ashburnham, MA to North Pack Monadnock in Greenfield, NH; Valley View Shelter sleeps 6-8, plus there is additional room for a few additional people who wish to tent; more info here: http://windblownxc.com/accommodations/shelters-camping.html (a fee is charged) more info
Wildcat A / Wildcat D / Carter Notch Hut White Mountains / Pinkham Notch 8 / 10 1-2 AMC hut extremely high, but you can reserve in advance the easternmost of the AMC huts, Carter Notch Hut serves a great base camp for climbing some of NH's 4000-footers, including the "Wildcats" (Wildcat A & Wildcat D) and Carter Dome (don't miss nearby Mt. Hight (great views!) if you hike up Carter Dome); Carter Notch Hut is open year-round, but come prepared for the potential for temperatures in the range of -20 or even -30 degrees in winter--there are usually a few days each year when this happens (a fee is charged) n/a
Zealand Mountain / Zeacliff / Zealand Falls / Zealand Falls Hut White Mountains / Pinkham Notch 10 / 10 1-2 AMC hut extremely high, but you can reserve in advance Zeacliff is one of the top viewpoints in all of New Hampshire; if you are hiking up to Zeacliff, you might as well continue on to hike the viewless Zealand Mountain (one of the 48 4000-footers); lodging available at nearby AMC Zealand Falls Hut (reservations required well in advance); Zeacliff and Zealand Mountain are also common stopping points along a "Bonds Traverse" day hike or backpacking trip (a fee is charged) n/a

Lowe's Path, Mount Adams
Lowe's Path, Mount Adams

Davis Path heading towards Mt. Isolation
Davis Path heading south towards Mt. Isolation

Black Mountain Cabin
U.S. Forest Service's Black Mountain Cabin (reservations required)

Star Lake, Mount Madison
Star Lake & Mount Madison (only 0.2 mile from AMC Madison Spring Hut)

trail sign on Mt. Adams
trail sign on Mt. Adams

sunset near the summit of Bondcliff
sunset near the summit of Bondcliff

summit of Mt. Eisenhower
giant cairn on the summit of Mt. Eisenhower

Jim Liberty Cabin on Mt. Chocorua
Jim Liberty Cabin on Mt. Chocorua

TIPS FOR BACKPACKING IN NEW HAMPSHIRE



Here are some general tips to help you make the most of your backpacking trips in New Hampshire:

AVOID BUG SEASON - Unless you are a masochist, avoid backpacking in New Hampshire from late-May through early July. This is black fly season and they can be absolutely intolerable (think Alaskan mosquito-bad). You can try to use bug spray or DEET-based products, but they don't always work well for all people all th etime. If you absolutely must go backpacking during this time-frame, do yourself a favor and bring a wide-brimmed hat and a mesh bug net.
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TRAIL CONDITIONS - Review Trailsnh.com, Newenglandtrailconditions.com, Vftt.org or other websites to obtain the latest in trail conditions, especially in winter and early spring, when snow & ice conditions can be highly variable.
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USE GUIDEBOOKS - Buy hiking or backpacking guidebooks and actually read each relevant chapter before you take your backpacking trip. You'll understand potential dangers and also make sure you don't miss anything important or scenic along the way.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- BRING FRIENDS - I encourage you to bring friends with you on your backpacking adventures, so long as you sincerely believe they will be capable of hiking the trails and mountains that you have selected for them. If you want to get someone hooked on backpacking, make their first trip both easy and rewarding. I wouldn't do more than 5 or 6 miles per day if you are taking a newbie with you.
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CHECK THE WEATHER - Check the Mount Washington Observatory Higher Summits Forecast the morning before hiking any of the major peaks of New Hampshire. This forecast typically gets updated between 4:00am-6:00am each morning and is far more trust-worthy than the generic weather websites. You can also do a "spot" forecast using www.noaa.gov, but pointing to a peak and getting its forecast. Some hikers will check both.
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STAY IN A HUT - Stay in an AMC or RMC hut or cabin at least once (tip: some of the AMC huts have a "self-service" season that is much more affordable than the prime "full service" season).
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GET THE RIGHT BOOTS OR SHOES - Invest in high-quality hiking shoes or hiking boots. If the boots or shores cost less than $100, they probably aren't that high of quality. I love the Oboz, Asolo, REI, Vasque and Merrill brands, but there are many others.
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USE TREKKING POLES - Save your knees so that you can still hike when you are in your 70's. Bring and use trekking poles most or all of the time.
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LEAVE A NOTE - Always leave a note or tell someone which trails and mountains you will be backpacking (too many people get lost and/or injured in the mountains of New Hampshire).
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BEWARE OF BREAK-INS - Don't leave anything valuable in your car. Unfortunately, too many break-ins have occurred in this region.
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GET CREATIVE - Learn the value of hitch-hiking, using a car-spot, and/or mountain biking between trailheads (note: a traverse is always more interesting than an out-and-back hike).
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WINTER BACKPACKING - Most people avoid backpacking trips in New Hampshire from November through May since this is the snow/ice season. You need specific winter backpacking skills to be able to backpack during the cold weather seasons in New Hampshire.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- BEAT THE CROWDS - Start your hikes early (i.e. before 6:30-7:00am) to beat most of the crowds and to have a better shot of grabbing a space within a shelter or at an established tent-site.
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REVIEW HIKING MAPS - Study hiking maps because they can help you become creative in the routes you take (you don't always have to take the easiest or most-straightforward trails).
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HIKE IN SEPTEMBER - Mid-week September hiking is amazing. Hike at least once during this time-frame (call out sick from work if you have to).
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CARRY THE RIGHT FOOD - Carry the appropriate food based on the season you are hiking in (some foods will melt in summer, and some foods become rock-solid in winter).
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EAT UP - Attack some great local restaurants after at least some of your hikes (or all of them). You've earned it. In the White Mountains of New Hampshire, many of the best restaurants are found in the towns of North Conway, Jackson, Lincoln and Woodstock. You can use yelp.com or tripadvisor.com to find restaurants in all regions of New Hampshire.
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VISIT THE MOUNTAIN WANDERER BOOKSTORE - Introduce yourself to Steve Smith at the Mountain Wanderer in Lincoln at some point. There aren't many people as passionate about New Hampshire's trails as he is.
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REI MEMBERSHIP - Get that $20 REI membership to save 8-10% on all full-price REI purchases for the rest of your life (you have no idea how much time you'll probably spend at their stores and on rei.com). Also, strongly consider applying for the REI credit card (you can earn hundreds of dollars in dividends each year if you use this credit card as your primary card for your non-REI purchases).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- PICK YOUR MOUNTAINS WISELY - Hike the great mountains and route on the bluebird days, and the less interesting mountains and routes on the overcast or lousy-weather days.
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FALL FOLIAGE - Don't miss backpacking in New Hampshire during peak fall foliage in early October.
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GET YOUR ELECTROLYTES - Bring some Gatorade (or something similar) to get some electrolytes into your system. I like bringing these drinks in powder form and making them when I need them.
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VITAMIN I - Ibuprofen can be extremely helpful in controlling pain and/or reducing swelling. Some hikers swear by using this drug, but don't consume them on an empty stomach.
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SNOW & ICE - Be safe out there - New Hampshire's mountains can be nasty (even deadly) in adverse weather conditions. Snow and ice can also be very problematic, sometimes accumulating as early as early October and often extending well into May.
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MEETUP.COM - If you are short on hiking friends, consider joining a Meetup hiking group (there are several groups and they always have good hikes planned) or ask for partners on one of several local Facebook hiking 'groups'.
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GEAR STORES - Spend time perusing at least a few gear stores that focus on hiking & backpacking equipment. There are currently no REIs in New Hampshire, but there is a good EMS in North Conway and Concord. REI is building a store Bedford, New Hampshire and it is expected to open in 2017.
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LEARN FIRST AID - Take a wilderness first aid course to prepare you in case something goes wrong. If you hike for long enough in your life, you are likely to encounter a situation where first aid training can come in handy.
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WATCH THE WEATHER - Try to read the weather frequently while hiking, and react quickly to changes in clouds or temperature.
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TURN BACK IF YOU HAVE TO - Don't be afraid to turn back if your energy levels are low or the weather is deteriorating (most hikers will be turned back at some point).
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CATCH A SUNSET OR SUNRISE - Catch a sunset or sunrise from a mountain top or above treeline (bring at least one headlamp to help you get down).
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TREAT WATER - Always treat water before drinking it (use iodine, boil, or use a filter). I recommend using a pump filter or a gravity-based filtering system.
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LIMIT YOUR MILEAGE - Try to limit your first backpacking trip to no more than 6-8 miles a day. Some will want to do even fewer miles than this. Once you get some experience under your belt, you'll likely find yourself doing trips in the 8-12 miles per day range.
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BRING A REAL CAMERA - Don't forget your camera, and remember to label the pictures after you are done with each hike (you'll want to capture these moments). I recommend that you bring a good point-and-shoot or DSLR camera instead of taking pictures with your smart-phone. The reason is because the camera's resolution on your smart-phone will not look good on tablet and computer monitors 10 or 20 years from now.
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UNDERSTAND WHAT CAN GO WRONG - Read Not Without Peril and/or Desperate Steps: Life, Death, and Choices Made in the Mountains of the Northeast to learn about what can go wrong in the rugged mountains of New Hampshire if you aren't properly prepared.
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GET THE HIKER'S BIBLE - The AMC White Mountain Guide literally describes every single trail in the White Mountains. There are no photographs in this book, but it's the finest and most accurate hiking guidebook on the planet. I'm serious about this.
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BEAT THE CROWDS - If you want to beat the crowds, avoid backpacking anywhere along the Appalachian Trail from May through October, especially on the weekends. If you want an even higher chance of solitude, avoid trails that climb on or near the 4000-footers. The Cohos Trail is an excellent way to generally beat the crowds (although its popularity is quickly increasing).

en route to the Pemigewasset Wilderness
en route to the Pemigewasset Wilderness from the Lincoln Woods trailhead on NH 112/the Kancamagus Highway

BACKPACKING THE 4000-FOOTERS



Here are the official opportunities for backpacking on the 4000-footers of New Hampshire. Please take note there are many other unofficial backpacking opportunities on most of these peaks, and I have not listed them here as I feel that people need to work a bit to find them on their own (so that these pristine sites are not overrun).
  • Adams - AMC Madison Spring Hut, RMC The Perch, RMC Crag Camp, RMC Gray Knob, RMC Log Cabin, Valley Way Tentsite, Osgood Tentsite
  • Bond - Guyot Shelter & Tentsites, AMC Galehead Hut, AMC Zealand Hut
  • Bondcliff - Guyot Shelter & Tentsites, AMC Galehead Hut, AMC Zealand Huts
  • Cabot - USFS Cabot Cabin, Unknown Pond
  • Cannon - AMC Lonesome Lake Hut, Kinsman Pond Shelter & Tentsites
  • Carrigain - no official backpacking sites noted
  • Carter Dome - AMC Carter Notch Hut, Imp Shelter
  • Carter, Middle - Imp Shelter, AMC Carter Notch Hut
  • Carter, South - Imp Shelter, AMC Carter Notch Hut
  • Eisenhower - AMC Mizpah Spring Hut, Nauman Tentsite, AMC Lakes of the Clouds Hut
  • Field - Ethan Pond Shelter & Tentsites, AMC Zealand Hut
  • Flume - Liberty Springs Tentsite
  • Galehead - AMC Galehead Hut, Garfield Ridge Shelter & Tentsites, Guyot Shelter & Tentsites
  • Garfield - AMC Galehead Hut, Garfield Ridge Shelter & Tentsites
  • Hale - AMC Zealand Hut
  • Hancock - no official backpacking sites noted
  • Hancock South - no official backpacking sites noted
  • Isolation - Rocky Branch Shelter #1, Rocky Branch Shelter #2
  • Jackson - AMC Mizpah Spring Hut, Nauman Tentsite
  • Jefferson - RMC The Perch, RMC Crag Camp, RMC Gray Camp, RMC Log Cabin, AMC Lakes of the Clouds Hut, AMC Madison Spring Hut, Valley Way Tentsite, Osgood Tentsite
  • Kinsman, North - Kinsman Pond Shelter & Tentsites, Eliza Brook Shelter & Tentsites, AMC Lonesome Lake Hut
  • Kinsman, South - Kinsman Pond Shelter & Tentsites, Eliza Brook Shelter & Tentsites, AMC Lonesome Lake Huts
  • Lafayette - AMC Greenleaf Hut, Liberty Springs Tentsite, Garfield Ridge Shelter & Tentsites
  • Liberty - Liberty Springs Tentsite, AMC Greenleaf Hut
  • Lincoln - AMC Greenleaf Hut, Liberty Springs Tentsite
  • Madison - AMC Madison Spring Hut, Valley Way Tentsite, RMC The Perch, RMC Crag Camp, RMC Gray Knob, RMC Log Cabin, Osgood Tentsite
  • Monroe - AMC Lakes of the Clouds Hut, AMC Mizpah Spring Hut, Nauman Tentsite, Hermit Lake Shelter & Tentsites,
  • Moosilauke - Beaver Brook Shelter & Tentsites
  • Moriah - Rattle River Shelter & Tentsites, Imp Shelter & Tentsites
  • Osceola - no official backpacking sites noted
  • Osceola, East - no official backpacking sites noted
  • Owls Head - 13 Falls Tentsite (although the trail to Owls Head is in rough shape and may be hard to follow)
  • Passaconaway - no official backpacking sites noted
  • Pierce - AMC Mizpah Spring Hut, Nauman Tentsite
  • Tecumseh - no official backpacking sites noted
  • Tom - AMC Zealand Hut, Ethan Pond Shelter & Tentsites
  • Tripyramid, Middle - no official backpacking sites noted
  • Tripyramid, North - no official backpacking sites noted
  • Twin, North - AMC Galehead Hut, Guyot Shelter & Tentsites, AMC Zealand Hut
  • Twin, South - AMC Galehead Hut, Guyot Shelter & Tentsites, AMC Zealand Hut
  • Washington - Hermit Lake Shelter & Tentsites, AMC Lakes of the Clouds Huts, Harvard Cabin (winter only)
  • Waumbek - no official backpacking sites noted
  • West Bond - Guyot Shelter & Tentsites, AMC Galehead Hut, AMC Zealand Hut
  • Whiteface - no official backpacking sites noted
  • Wildcat - AMC Carter Notch Hut
  • Wildcat, Peak D - AMC Carter Notch Hut
  • Willey - Ethan Pond Shelter & Tentsites, AMC Zealand Hut
  • Zealand - AMC Zealand Hut
Know of any other official opportunities to backpack on the 4000-footers? Please email your tips to gparsons66@hotmail.com.

MULTI-DAY BACKPACKING TRIPS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE



Here are some recommended multi-day backpacking trips in New Hampshire:
  • AMC Hut traverse (up to 8 days)
  • Appalachian Trail (up to 12-15 days)
  • Cohos Trail (up to 12-15 days)
  • Mahoosuc Trail traverse (4-5 days)
  • Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway Trail (up to 3-5 days)
  • Pemi Loop-east section (2-3 days)
  • Pemi Loop-west section (2-3 days)
  • Pemi Loop-entire loop (3-4 days)
  • Presidential Range (2-3 days)
If solitude is what you are seeking, the Cohos Trail can deliver that. The trail is starting to hit the radar of backpackers, but some friends and I took a 4-day trip in the summer of 2016 and we ran into no other backpackers.

If you study trail maps of the White Mountain National Forest, you can easily customize a backpacking trip of 2 or 3 or even more days. Just beware of potentially dangerous major river crossings, especially those in the Pemigewasset Wilderness and those in the Wild River Wilderness.

Panorama Shelter, Cohos Trail (between NH 26 and Coleman State Park)
Panorama Shelter, Cohos Trail (between NH 26 and Coleman State Park)

AMC HIGH MOUNTAIN HUTS



The non-profit organization Appalachian Mountain Club (the 'AMC') operates eight (8) backcountry huts in the White Mountain National Forest. All eight of these huts sit directly along the path of the Appalachian Trail. They are between 8-10 miles apart, which helps make for some excellent multi-day hut-to-hut trekking opportunities.

All huts have a 'full-service' season and most, if not all, have a 'self-service' season:
  • A stay during the 'full-service' season (which is typically from late-May through early October) includes dinner and breakfast and wool blankets are supplied for warmth.
  • A stay during the 'self-service' season (which is typically from early October through late-May) requires that you bring your own food and sleeping bag. As you can imagine, the 'self-service' season is considerably cheaper than the 'full-service' season.
The huts are very expensive to stay in, especially if you aren't a current AMC member or if you stay on a weekend night (the huts are sadly more expensive than most of the huts in the Alps and in New Zealand). The huts are well-built and a stay is typically quite enjoyable, despite the burdensome cost.

All huts require advance reservations, unless you are an Appalachian Trail "thru-hiker". These huts are wildly popular these days, so make your reservations early in the year or chance are good you'll be out of luck.

The following is a list of all eight of the AMC huts, listed in order as they lie on the Appalachian Trail as you travel from south to north. I have also included my opinion of the quality of the scenic views that are seen directly from the hut or within a few hundred feet of the hut.
  • AMC Lonesome Lake Hut (views: B+)
  • AMC Greenleaf Hut (views: B+)
  • AMC Galehead Hut (views: B+)
  • AMC Zealand Falls Hut (views: B)
  • AMC Mizpah Spring Hut (views: none)
  • AMC Lakes Of The Clouds Hut (views: A+)
  • AMC Madison Spring Hut (views: A)
  • AMC Carter Notch Hut (views: C)
A few of the huts are open year-round, and if you have the gear to keep you warm, a cold weather visit where you snowshoe or cross-country ski into the hut can be wonderful. Here are huts that are open year-round:
  • AMC Lonesome Lake Hut
  • AMC Zealand Hut
  • AMC Carter Notch Hut
My favorite huts are the AMC Galehead Hut and the AMC Madison Spring Hut. The AMC Galehead Hut feels incredibly remote and has a lovely view right from its front porch. You can also easily access trails to hike several of New Hampshire's 4000-footers from the hut. The AMC Madison Spring Hut is a great base camp to both Mt. Adams and Mt. Madison, two of NH's finest mountain peaks. In addition, Star Lake sits only 0.2 miles from AMC Madison Spring Hut and provides a wonderful view of the lake with Mt. Madison in the background.

The AMC Lakes of the Clouds Hut is the largest and most popular hut, and it can be difficult to score a reservation. This hut lies above treeline and is the closest hut to Mt. Washington. From the hut, you can hike to all sorts of beautiful destinations in the southern Presidential Range, including Mt. Washington, Mt. Monroe and Mt. Eisenhower. This hut has the best views of all the AMC huts, but take note that it closes in early September.

The AMC Lonesome Lake Hut is the most popular with families, since it's only a 1.6 mile hike to the hut. Lonesome Lake sits just below the hut and is popular with kids for swimming (but beware there are some leeches). Views of the Franconia Ridge from the pond are spectacular when clouds/fog are not present.

The AMC also rents a hut high on the slopes of Mt. Cardigan in Central New Hampshire. This is the AMC High Cabin and it sleeps up to twelve hikers on four sets of bunkbeds that are 3-beds tall each. This cabin is rented exclusively to one party at a time, but you don't need to be an AMC member to reserve it. The hut is open-year round and you may use its wood stove during the colder seasons. Bring a lot of water if you visit because there isn't reliable water anywhere near the cabin.

AMC Lakes of the Clouds Hut
AMC Lakes of the Clouds Hut

AMC Madison Spring Hut
AMC Madison Spring Hut

RMC HUTS & SHELTERS



The Randolph Mountain Club ('RMC') offers a few wonderful and cheaper alternatives to the Appalachian Mountain Club huts.
  • RMC Gray Knob - a fully-enclosed cabin/hut
  • RMC Crag Camp - a fully-enclosed cabin/hut
  • RMC The Perch - a three-sided shelter with four tent platforms
  • RMC Log Cabin - a three-sided shelter
All of the AMC shelters and cabins/huts are first-come, first-served. It is recommended that you arrive early in the day if you want to guarantee yourself a spot, especially on the weekends. Gray Knob and Crag Camp typically fill to capacity every weekend from May through October. The Perch and the Log Cabin are less popular than the other two, but on occasion will still fill to capacity.

All of these shelters and cabins/huts can be reached by parking at the well-marked Appalachia trailhead on US 2 in the town of Randolph. You'll want to bring a solid trail map with you on your hike since there are literally dozens of trails that stem from that one trailhead.

Most hikers will use the RMC facilities as a base camp to hike Mt. Madison and/or Mt. Adams. You can also reach Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Washington from the RMC sites, but this will be a longer and more challenging hike than Mt. Madison or Mt. Adams.

The RMC Crag Camp is often considered the premier or best RMC facility. It is as nicely constructed as any of the AMC huts, but is far less expensive.

RMC Crag Camp near Mt. Adams
RMC Crag Camp below Mt. Adams

WMNF CABINS, SHELTERS & LEAN-TOS



The White Mountain National Forest has dozens of shelters and lean-tos available for use. All of these are available on a first-come, first-served system. Many are free to stay in, but some require a fee. All tend to be quite popular, especially on weekends.

Hikers should always carry a tent in case they arrive at a shelter or lean-to and find it already full. Nearly all shelters are full on weekend nights during the busier months, especially those found along the Appalachian Trail.

The AMC White Mountain Guide comes with trail maps that show the locations of all of the lean-to shelters in the White Mountains.

Some of these lean-to shelters are located along the shores of beautiful backcountry ponds. Here is a list of such shelters:
  • Ethan Pond Shelter
  • Flat Mountain Pond Shelter
  • Gential Pond Shelter
  • Mountain Pond Shelter
  • Province Pond Shelter
  • Sawyer Pond Shelter
  • Kinsman Pond Shelter
  • Three Ponds Shelter

If you want to say in a shelter near a beautiful waterfall, you can't beat Coppermine Shelter. This shelter sits 0.2 miles from impressive Bridal Veil Falls. There are two unofficial tent sites nearby if you arrive and the shelter is full.

The U.S. Forest Service also rents out two backcountry cabins that are available for rent year-round. Each of these two cabins has a wood-stove. The cabins sleep up to eight people (bring a sleeping pad and sleeping bag) and they must be reserved through www.recreation.gov:

  • Black Mountain Cabin
  • Doublehead Cabin
Several of the shelters and lean-tos in the White Mountains are operated by the Appalachian Mountain Club. A fee is usually charged to stay at these shelters.

The only downsides to the shelters and lean-tos in the White Mountains is that they tend to be very crowded on weekends and occasionally one will have a frequent mouse problem. Make sure to hang all your food, or better yet, use a bear bag, box or canister.

AMC Garfield Ridge Shelter
the beautiful but extremely popular AMC Garfield Ridge Shelter

BACKPACKING IN NEW ENGLAND



Newenglandwaterfalls.com has also created backpacking guides to most of the other New England states. Those pages can be found here:
view from Zeacliff, NH
view from Zeacliff, New Hampshire

BACKPACKING CHECKLIST



Here is a quick packing list for your next backpacking trip. You probably won't want or need to bring all of these items, but I have listed them here anyway for your consideration.
  • FOOD & WATER
    • Food and snacks
    • Water
    • Electrolytes drink (i.e. Gatorade, Powerade, etc.)
    • Coffee
  • BACKPACKING GEAR
    • Hiking shoes or hiking boots
    • Backpack
    • Backpack cover or bag liner
    • Tent, tarp-tent, bivy, or hammock
    • Sleeping bag or quilt
    • Sleeping pad
    • Headlamp and batteries
    • Guidebook or route description
    • Permits (if applicable)
    • Trail Map
    • Water bottles and/or water bladder/hydration reservoir
    • Water filter
    • Trash bag
    • Stuff sack
    • Pillow
    • Trekking poles
    • Sunglasses / contacts
    • Camp shoes, down booties, sandals or crocs
    • Gaiters
    • Tent footprint, tarp or ground cloth
    • Fishing gear
    • Sanitation shovel
    • Camp chair
  • CLOTHING
    • Shirts-quick drying
    • Socks
    • Hiking pants, hiking shorts or kilts
    • Waterproof jacket
    • Camp clothing
    • Underwear-quick drying
    • Waterproof hiking pants
    • Fleece jacket, softshell jacket and/or down jacket
    • Bandana and/or face towel
    • Towel
    • Hat
    • Winter hat
    • Winter gloves or mittens
    • Winter facemask or balaclava
  • COOKING & EATING
    • Stove and fuel
    • Cooking utensils
    • Cooking pot and/or cooking bowl
    • Bowls and/or plates
    • Cups
  • COMFORT & TIOLETRIES
    • Tiolet paper
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Baby wipes
    • Toothbrush/toothpaste
    • Earplugs
    • Bug spray
    • Bug net
    • Deodorant
    • Sun-screen lotion
    • Lip balm
    • Aloe Vera
    • Bio-degradeable soap
  • SAFETY & SECURITY
    • Matches or lighter
    • Safety whistle
    • Medical kit
    • Knife, Razor-blade or multi-tool
    • Identification
    • Money/Cash
    • Compass
    • Duct tape or superglue
    • Rope or nylon cord
    • First-aid Handbook
    • GPS
    • Altimeter
    • Signaling mirror
    • Phone
    • Bear bag or canister
    • Watch
    • Personal location beacon ('PLB')
    • Foot traction
    • Ice axe
    • Bear spray
  • FUN STUFF
    • Camera
    • Alcohol/booze
    • Plastic wine glasses
    • Tripod or mini-tripod
    • Playing cards
    • Book/magazine/e-reader
    • Pet supplies
    • Pencil/pen/paper
    • Mini-speakers
    • Miniature lantern
    • Binoculars / monoculars
Click here for a more comprehensive backpacking checklist, including some personal recommended gear brands.

BACKPACKING GUIDEBOOKS



The following guidebooks are trusted resources that you can rely upon to help you plan great backpacking trips in New Hampshire. Click on any book to read reviews and/or to purchase them on Amazon.com. I personally own (and love) each of these four guidebooks.













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