Hike Tuckerman's Ravine Trail on Mt. Washington
New Hampshire › Pinkham Notch
Added by Shannon Kalahan
This White Mountain National Forest hike is 9 miles roundtrip to the Lakes of the Clouds hut. The summit is 8.2 RT. There is a family-friendly shorter option, where the first 2.4 miles of the trail are much more manageable. This hike offers waterfalls, lakes, and spectacular views (especially in the warmer months).
While this trail is open year round with winter hiking/skiing down the ravine walls, this entry will focus on hiking in the warmer months.
Your hike starts behind the Pinkham Notch AMC Center in Jackson, NH at an elevation of approximately 2050 ft. There is plenty of parking at the visitors center, as well as bathrooms and access to load up on food / water before you being.
The first 2.4 miles of the Tuckerman's Ravine Trail is relatively mild trip, making it a good section of trail for families or those people just looking for a relaxing hike in the woods. Within the first 10 minutes, you'll encounter a beautiful waterfall worthy of a photograph. There is a trail wall built up at the waterfall to keep visitors safe, as a tumble down to the base of the Crystal Cascade could be disastrous. From there, continue on to the Hermit Lake shelter at approximately 3875 ft. Here, you will find camping shelters (the only legal spot to camp on this side of the mountain), a ranger station, first aid, a lake and a nice view of what's to come.
From below, the ravine looks benign. As you get closer, you'll see a narrow, but well worn trail from the base of the ravine to the headwall. The trail isn't vertical in most places, containing several switchbacks to keep it manageable, but it can be slippery. There are multiple waterfalls running down the ravine walls and several sections where streams flow past or across the path.
As a word of caution, the Tuckerman's Ravine trail is both very narrow and very popular in the summer months. Be careful not to dislodge rocks that could crash onto the people below you and treat those slick sections seriously. Like most mountain hikes in New England, straying from the designated path is frowned upon as it can be dangerous and damaging to the delicate local flora.
Furthermore, Mt. Washington is home to the some of the world's worst weather and the trail becomes significantly more difficult when the skies turn foul.
Shortly after reaching the headwall, you will come to Tuckerman's Junction, where five trails come together. From here, you can choose to go to the summit, or go on to the Lakes of the Clouds hut. Both the hut and the summit complex offer bathrooms, running water and some food. You can also reserve a spot to stay in a bunk overnight in the AMC huts; however, they generally fill up quickly. Plan to book months in advance.
Either trail choice will bring you through rock fields with cairn trail markers. As I mentioned before, the weather on Mt. Washington is very fickle, and the summit spends a lot of time being socked in. Be very careful to stay on these cairn marked trails, especially in bad weather. Again, this is a matter of both protecting the ecosystem and keeping yourself safe.
On a clear day, Mt. Washington provides some of the most breath-taking views in New England. When you reach the summit, take a photograph next to the elevation marker at 6288 ft, and then find a place to rest while you take in the stunning 360 degree views of the surrounding peaks and valleys.
The hike to the summit can be done in one day, as long as you start your hike early so you can get off the mountain before it gets dark. However, in my experience, hiking out the same day doesn't leave you much of an opportunity to enjoy the mountain. If you can camp or get a space in the hut, the extra time is worth it. It makes the trip much more enjoyable.
- Appropriate hiking shoes and clothes
- Plenty of water
- Dry-wick / warm layers, and rain gear (even on good days)
- Hiking poles if you have bad knees (I do)
- A camera
- A good ol' fashioned trail map - the service is spotty and GPS has been known to fail here
- Camping gear if you intend to stay overnight (at the very least, a sleeping bag and backpacking essentials)
- A permit for either Hermit Lake camping or your hut stay if you intend to stay overnight
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Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Photography, Rock Climbing, Skiing, Snowshoeing
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ReviewsLeave a Review
My favorite hike on the east coast. Highly recommend. Although you'll see a lot of other hikers, the company ends up being reassuring towards the summit, as the fog often becomes so thick you can hardly see ahead of you. The horrendous weather was part of what made it so exciting for me. I've been up on a nasty day and a perfectly clear day, and both were absolutely amazing!
Bad Weather But Lot Of Fun
I did it with a couple of friend over the weekend (First of July). We were told that the weather at the top was not nice (20F and 50m/h wind), but we decided to hike 'till the Hermit Lake lodge and than decide if we want to continue or not. The sun was coming out when we arrived at the lodge so we decided to make it to the top. The beggining of the final ascension thru the rocks was fine but the last mile was horrible. We could'nt see more than 20ft ahead and the wind was so strong we needed to hide behind rocks for some time. Still the view before that was breathaking and I'm glad I make it to the top! Would definetly try to come again on a better day!
Tuckerman Ravine Is A Great Intro Hike In The Area
I'm not a very experienced hiker, but I have aspirations to be. That being said, Tuckerman Ravine was an excellent starting point for a full day hike. With excellent weather, we had views for many miles the more we ascended Mt. Washington. The fresh air, challenging portions of the hike, and outstanding scenic overviews make for one of the best experiences in New Hampshire! This is a total bucket-list item, and so worth taking a nice day to journey up!
Don't miss out! By far the most memorable hike I've done around. One that proved challenging and rewarding yet really accessible. The viewpoints are incredible. Driving through New Hempshire to get there is already an journey in itself surrounded by the hilly landscape and the vernacular houses along the road. If I'd get back I would: - Pack lighter (carrying 15lb worth of camera gears never helps) - Bring poles (the way down through Tuckerman's ravine proved really challenging for my knees) - try to get there out of the touristic peaks as it tends to be quite crowded
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