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Rock Scrambles in New England

Many people are not aware of just how rugged some of New England's trails are. Fantastic and exciting rock scrambling can be found in man places. The ruggedness of Mt. Washington, Mt. Adams, Mt. Monadnock, & Katahdin are well known, but there are many other major scrambles that you can find in the often rocky regions of New England.

Please email me ( if I am missing any substantial rock scrambles in New England, or if you think I should include any additional tidbits of important information to the Notes & Highlights column in the table below.

Please see the bottom of this web-page for a chart detailing the various 'classes' of rock scrambling (each trail is rated I, II, II+, III, IV or V). Most hikers are perfectly comfortable with trails rated I or II, but a moderate or strong fear of heights can make class II+ or higher a bit too much of an adventure for some. Trails that are marked as Class III or higher have the potential to really freak some hikers out.

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Pamola Peak
Pamola's Finger on the Dudley Trail, Baxter State Park, Maine


Here is a list of all known trails with rock scrambling in the state of New Hampshire.

Air Line Trail Mt. Adams II one of several exciting routes to the summit of Mt. Adams; many other less-scrambly trail options are available for the return trip back down trail info
Baldface Circle Trail South Baldface II several class II moves are required on the ledges of South Baldface; fantastic views are obtained on the ledges and also at the summit of South Baldface; I recommend that you continue on and make a 10-mile loop over both Baldface summits (the summit of North Baldface is one of the best summits in New England); don't miss swimming in cold but beautiful Emerald Pool on the way down; overnight accommodation available at the Baldface Shelter (below South Baldface) trail info
Beaver Brook Trail Mt. Moosilauke II this steep trail climbs alongside several series of picturesque waterfalls; some wooden blocks are bolted to rocks to assist you in the steepest sections; this trail will ultimately bring you to the awesome bare summit of Mt. Moosilauke (highly recommended); a shelter is available for those that want an overnight adventure trail info
Blueberry Ledge Trail Mt. Whiteface II only one or two short sections of this trail are steep and challenging; the rest of the trail is much less steep; beautiful views from the ledges below the actual ("true") summit of Mt. Whiteface; you can continue across the ridge and make a loop over the summit of Mt. Passaconaway (make sure to take the 0.3 mile spur trail downhill to the north for the best views on Passaconaway) trail info
Brook Trail Chocorua II several short and fun sections of scrambling are found on the south slopes of Chocorua (which is one of the most rewarding 3000-footers in New England); this is the steepst trail on Chocorua trail info
Caps Ridge Trail Mt. Jefferson II / II+ it's a 2.5 mile one-way hike to the top of Mt. Jefferson from Jefferson Notch Road, but it seems much harder than the mileage indicates; the lower "crag" is the steepest and is quite fun for those who like rock scrambling trail info
Carter Ledge Trail Chocorua II several semi-steep ledges en route to the summit of Middle Sister; only one portion really stands out as semi-challenging (but it's very short) trail info
Carter-Moriah Trail North Carter II a long series of short ledges trail info
Castle Ravine Trail Mt. Jefferson II involves scrambling and a significant amount of walking on loose talus; a quiet & scenic trail trail info
Castle Trail Mt. Jefferson II+ fantastic views with some challenging rock scrambles; do NOT attempt in foul weather trail info
Chemin des Dames Mt. Adams II+ connects King Ravine to Air Line; rough and very steep scrambling is involved trail info
Dilly Trail n/a II short but very steep and rough trail that is part of the Lost River Reservation off NH 112 trail info
Flume Slide Trail Mt. Flume II+ long sections of (typically wet) slab scrambling; hiking up this trail allows you to do a day-hike loop over Mt. Flume and Mt. Liberty; most hikers will want to avoid descending this route; take note that this is NOT the easiest route up Mt. Flume trail info
Great Gulf Trail Mt. Washington II/II+ climbs a steep headwall; a wild, long, and difficult route up Mt. Washington; route-finding may be difficult in certain sections trail info
Great Gully Trail Mt. Adams II connects King Ravine Trail to Thunderstorm Junction on the shoulder of Mt. Adams trail info
Hi-Cannon Trail Cannon Mountain II includes one fun and challenging wooden ladder to climb, plus some moderate hand-scrambling ; return via Lonesome Lake for a nice day-hiking loop trail info
Holt Trail Mt. Cardigan III this trail is surprisingly steep considering this mountain isn't located in the White Mountains; do NOT attempt this trail in foul weather (in fact, I would only hike this trail if it has not rained the previous 2-3 days); there is one awkward class III move located about 200 feet below the summit; in addition to that crux move, there are 4 or 5 class II+ moves trail info
Huntington Ravine Trail Mt. Washington III undeniably the hardest "hiking" trail in New England; only those with previous scrambling experience should attempt this trail; do NOT try to descend this trail; this trail is typically ice free from mid July through late September, but snow, ice or hail can occur in any month; do NOT attempt in foul weather or if the temperature dropped below 32 degrees the night before as having ice present on this trail can be extremely dangerous trail info
Ice Gulch Path n/a II extended periods of scrambling over wet & slippery rocks; wild and remote trail info
King Ravine Trail Mt. Adams II+/III climbs a steep headwall; one of the most scenic scrambles in the White Mountains; an optional trip through "the Subway" is very challenging trail info
Madison Gulf Trail Mt. Madison II+ one of the steepest and most challenging hikes in New England; arguably the toughest route up Mt. Madison trail info
Mount Major Main Trail II the Main Trail is the fun route up Mt. Major; there is only a small amount of scrambling here, but it makes for an excellent first family scramble! views from the ledges and the summit of Mt. Major are first-rate (some of the best lake views in New England) trail info
Mount Morgan Trail Mt. Morgan II involves climbing over several ledges, passing through a boulder cave, and scrambling up three ladders and some ledges; Mt. Morgan is typically combined with Mt. Percival for a classic 5.4-mile loop; don't miss the boulder caves on Mt. Percival trail info
Mount Osceola Trail E. Osceola / Mt. Osceola II+ the "Chimney" between the two peaks is a short but exciting class II+ section, but it is optional (there is a bypass route that is class II) trail info
Mount Percival Trail Mt. Percival II optional boulder cave; typically combined with Mt. Morgan for classic 5.4 mile loop trail info
North Slide Mt. Tripyramid II+/III lengthy sections of extremely steep slab scrambling; this trail gains 1,200 feet in 0.5 mile, making it one of the steepest and most challenging hiking trails in New England; do not attempt when wet or icy, and do not use this trail for descent; most hikers will make their hike a loop by descending down the nearby South Slide. trail info
Owl's Head Path Owl's Head II/II+ involves a steep climb up a semi-loose slide; some loose rock, so take your time when ascending and descending; Owl's Head is typically done as an 18-mile day hike, but there is an optional bushwhack to make the trail a little bit easier trail info
Percy Peaks Trail North Percy Peak II fun scrambling on a remote peak; access via the remote Nash Stream Road in the northern region of the White Mountain National Forest trail info
Six Husbands Trail Mt. Jefferson II+/III this trail climbs several steep ladders and ascends towards Mt. Jefferson via some challenging scrambling; there is supposedly one section where handholds are a far reach away and the ledges are often wet and slippery trail info
Spellman Trail Mt. Monadnock II/II+ the steepest trail on Mt. Monadnock; if you've done Mt. Monadnock before (and I bet a lot of you have), the degree of scrambling on this trail may surprise you trail info
South Slide Mt. Tripyramid II this slide is full of loose rock scree; most hikers will find this sort of terrain unpleasant trail info
Star Lake Trail Mt. Adams II/II+ very steep hike from the AMC Madison Hut to the summit of Mt. Adams; don't miss the view of Mt. Madison from the shore of Star Lake (visible from the trail itself) trail info
Table Rock Trail Table Rock II+ views of Dixville Notch from the rocky perch at the top; only brave souls will walk across the narrow rock feature to its end; there are three trails up to the beginning of Table Rock, one of which is extremely steep trail info
Underhill Trail North Percy II/II+ supposedly a fun scramble, but the trail is semi-abandoned and sees little use; may be tough to follow in spots not available
White Dot Trail Mt. Monadnock II very fun & relatively easy scrambling; a classic "first scramble" for so many hikers; often combined with White Cross Trail for lollipop-style hike trail info
Wildcat Ridge Trail Wildcat Mountain, Peak E II the steepness of this trail begins very close to the Glen Ellis Falls trailhead; good views are obtained very quickly on this steep climb; several wooden blocks assist you in the trickiest spots; if the river-crossing at the start is running high, you can cross upstream at the AMC Pinkham Notch center trail info

If you love rock scrambling in New Hampshire, you should consider climbing all of the Terrifying 25, an extremely fun list created by Patricia Ellis Herr. Once you complete the list, you can file an application to receive a patch and be officially acknowledged for the feat.

Here is an online guide to the Terrifying 25.


Here is a list of all known trails with rock scrambling in the state of Maine:

Appalachian Trail Bemis Mountain I II+ steep trail to Bemis Mountain, Peak I; from here, you can continue to other peaks of Bemis Mountain (which have much better views); big 1-2 day loop option is possible not available
Abol Slide Katahdin II/II+ steep, loose, and long scramble up to the "Tablelands" of Katahdin; I wouldn't call this trail "fun", but sometimes the other trailheads for Katahdin in Baxter State Park are full and you become stuck with this one trail info
Beehive Trail The Beehive II+ very fun scrambling in Acadia National Park; iron rungs and ladders assist you up the mountain; if you love this trail, also consider doing the Precipice Trail; frequently closed due to Peregrine falcon nesting, so check to see if the trail is open before visiting trail info
Cathedral Trail Katahdin II+/III the steepest "hiking" trail on Katahdin; access is via Chimney Pond (return via Saddle Trail or Dudley Trail instead of descending this steep trail); do NOT attempt this trail in foul weather as ledges can be very slippery trail info
Dudley Trail Katahdin II+ extremely fun scrambling; avoid in wet or icy weather; for perhaps the most fantastic photo-op in the park, scramble to the top of Pamola's Finger on the way up (but be very, very careful); this trail begins at Chimney Pond and climbs to the top of Pamola (from here, you can take the Knife's Edge to the summit of Katahdin) trail info
Hunt Trail (A.T.) Katahdin II/II+ this is the final section of the Appalachian Trail; fun scrambling, including several metal rungs to climb; impressive waterfall en route (Katahdin Stream Falls) trail info
Knife Edge Katahdin III only a short section of the Knife Edge Trail is class III (the "Chimney" near the summit of Pamola); rest of the trail is class II and II+; do NOT attempt the Knife Edge in foul weather trail info
RAM Trail Little Spencer Mountain II+ ropes are in place to guide you through the steepest section (the "Chimney"); other scrambles en route; good views from the summit; the name of the trail I've listed may not be correct not available
Loop Trail Tumbledown II intermediate scrambling to one of the finest mid-sized mountains in New England; the easier way up Tumbledown is the Brook Trail; you can find a trail map here trail info
Mahoosuc Notch Mahoosuc Notch II/II+ often called the "hardest section of the Appalachian Trail"; requires lots of bouldering and travel through caves and narrow enclosures; several fun wooden ladders and metal rungs to negotiate en route trail info
Mount Coe Trail Mt. Coe II steep slide trail trail info
Precipice Trail Champlain Mountain II+/III the most fun scrambling you will find in Acadia National Park; iron rungs and ladders assist you up the mountain; frequently closed due to Peregrine falcon nesting (typically opens mid-August); do NOT attempt in foul weather as ledges and rungs will be very slippery; if you enjoy this trail, also do The Beehive, which is just a bit south trail info
West Face Trail Cadillac Mountain II+ steepest route up Cadillac Mountain, which is the tallest peak in Acadia National Park trail info


Here is a list of all known trails with rock scrambling in the state of Vermont:

Cliff Trail Mt. Mansfield II short trail near the summit of Mt. Mansfield; includes ascending several wooden ladders not available
Hell Brook Trail Mt. Mansfield II+ easily the steepest hiking trail up Mt. Mansfield; trailhead on VT108 not available
Long Trail Camel's Hump II fun scrambling on the way to the summit of Camel's Hump; most commonly done as part of Forest City > Long Trail > Burrows Trail loop not available
Subway, The Mt. Mansfield II+ caves and fun boulder scrambling on the shoulder of Mt. Mansfield not available


Here is a list of all known trails with rock scrambling in the state of Connecticut:

Appalachian Trail Bear Mountain II north side of Bear Mountain not available
Blue / Quinnipiac Trail Sleeping Giant II small amount of scrambling not available
Falls Cut Off Trail Peoples State Forest II light scrambling past several seasonal waterfalls not available


Here is a list of all known trails with rock scrambling in the state of Massachusetts:

Harrington Trail Mount Wachusett II very short and easy rock scrambling near the summit of Mt. Wachusett; don't miss the spur trail to the scenic view while en route not available


The following explains the level of difficulty you can expect based on all the trails I have listed for the New England states in the above tables. These classes are based on the reliable and widely-used Yosemite Decimal System.

Class I: Easy walking/hiking with a very low chance of injury; no use of hands required; a fall is highly unlikely to be fatal.
Class II: Simple scrambling with occasional use of the hands; a fall is unlikely, but injury could result; a fatal fall is unlikely.
Class III: Significant scrambling with moderate to heavy use of the hands; a rope is generally not necessary; falls can cause injury but are typically not fatal.
Class IV: Intense scrambling; a rope is sometimes used; best to wear a helmet and do these trails with other people in case a fall or injury occurs; falls can be deadly.
Class V: Technical free climbing involving rope, belaying, and other protection hardware for safety; Un-roped falls can result in severe injury or death.

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