Best time to visit New Hampshire

Mount Washington in New Hampshire

The highest peak of the Appalachian Trail in the Northeast will challenge you with strong winds

Best time: all year round

Mount Washington
Mount Washington
Mount Washington
Mount Washington
Mount Washington
Mount Washington
Mount Washington
Mount Washington

Mount Washington, with its highest peak reaching a height of 6,288 ft (1917 m), is considered to be one of the most dangerous for hiking. This spot is infamous as home to the world's worst weather. Severe weather conditions that combine storms, snow, icy temps, strong winds, and high humidity can occur in any season. Sometimes winds can speed up to 96 km/h, which makes hiking nearly impossible.

Besides the challenges, Mt Washington offers breathtaking views, lots of hiking trails, the famous Cog Railway, and driving the Mount Washington Auto Road. This place is a perfect destination for hikers, climbers, and skiers.

Hikers ascend Mount Washington year-round. Summer often brings unexpected thunderstorms. Winter hiking requires a better preparation, but it's worth the effort as the views are stunning and there are fewer people around. Some trails are rather challenging during the winter moths requiring ice climbing equipment and prior experience. On average, the summit is covered in for for about 300 days out of the year, but on clear days you will be able to enjoy the views of five states and Canada.

One of the most popular and easiest routes is Tuckerman Ravine Trail, which can be found at the east side of the mount. The trail head is at the Pinkham Notch Visitors Center. The trail will take you to the summit with a quick elevation gain passing by a gorgeous waterfall right at the base.

When the weather is good, you can also try the Boot Spur Trail, which offers beautiful views. There are also other trails to the summit, but they are harder to climb as they are steeper. Do not underestimate this hike. This mount has seen lots of fatal cases, about 150 since 1849 to be more precise, mostly due to hypothermia.

Every hiker should check the weather before heading to the summit, especially during the shoulder season when the weather changes unexpectedly fast. On a hot sunny day at the base of the mountain, you can expect the summit to be freezing cold. If the weather is getting worse during your hike, don't proceed. It will get much worse at higher elevation. Always pack warm clothes, weatherproof layers, and an emergency blanket or a bivy sack.

Practical info

When is the best time to hike Mount Washington?

It is advisable to plan to hike Mount Washington from late May to early September during summer months. The weather at this time is usually mild. However, it is essential to note that unexpected thunderstorms can occur in any season. Winter climbs are also possible, but it requires more extensive preparation. Despite the crowd, winter trails offer spectacular views. Show more

Where can I find hiking trails on Mount Washington?

Tuckerman Ravine Trail, the most popular and easiest route to the Mount Washington summit, can be located on the east side of the mountain, starting at the Pinkham Notch Visitors Center. Boot Spur Trail is another sought-after trail due to its stunning views. Besides, there are other trails with steeper and more challenging terrains. Show more

What are the most challenging trails to the summit of Mount Washington?

Huntington Ravine Trail, Lion Head Trail, and Great Gulf Trail are among the most challenging routes to Mount Washington. Although Tuckerman Ravine Trail is the most preferred for being the easiest, the trails mentioned above require prior climbing experience and gear, especially in winter, when ice can be a significant hurdle. Show more

How often does the weather at the summit of Mount Washington change?

Mount Washington's summit weather changes frequently, even during summer months, and fog covers the peak approximately 300 days yearly. The temperature can drop as low as -40°C, including wind chill. It is crucial to check the weather forecast, especially during the shoulder season when the change is unpredictable. Show more

What should I pack for a hike on Mount Washington?

Mount Washington hikers are advised to pack appropriately, with warm clothes, weatherproof layers, and an emergency blanket or bivy sack being essential. Waterproof and thermal boots are ideal, with hikers encouraged to carry a first-aid kit, map, compass, extra food, and water. A flashlight and whistle are also essential in case of emergencies. Show more

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