Hike Mt. Washington via Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail and Jewell Trail

Rate this Adventure Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, Thompson and Meserves, New Hampshire, United States

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  • RT Distance:

    7.4 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    3720 Feet

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly

Hiking Mt. Washington via the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail offers beautiful views of several waterfalls along the Ammonoosuc River and Mt. Monroe after you reach the Lakes of the Clouds. This is a must-do trail for adventurers in the White Mountains looking to summit several peaks in one day.

To begin this hike, drive to Marshfield Station on Base Station Road in Jefferson, NH. There are several large parking lots capable of holding both hiker and Cog Railway traffic even on busy days. Parking in the lots at the Marshfield Station costs $5.00/day, there is a lot for hiker parking at the beginning of the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trailhead but this can sometimes fill up early on a good day. 

The hike up the Ammoonoosuc Ravine Trail starts just around 2,500' of elevation. Do not let yourself be fooled by the seemingly short distance to the summit and keep in mind that the summit of Mt. Washington—the highest peak east of the Mississippi River, sits at 6,289'. 

The total distance to the Lakes of the Clouds Hut is 2.4 miles from the beginning of the trail. The first mile or so of the trail is very mellow and an enjoyable walk along the river. There are several waterfalls along the way that make for some great resting points to take in the other beautiful aspects of this forest. As you move along, the trail becomes steeper and more difficult in some areas. There are several long and steep stair sections that can be tiring, but for the most part, this trail is very doable on a good weather day and you will see young children climbing there way alongside backpackers and more experienced mountain climbing folk. 

The Lakes of the Clouds Hut is a great place to stop and enjoy the surrounding vistas and mountains. From here, the summit of Washington can be accessed by Crawford Path, which will bring you right along Upper and Lower Lakes of the Clouds. These alpine lakes are a beautiful place to sit at and relax if the hut is too crowded, which can often be the case during the busy summer months. 

From the Lakes of the Clouds, follow Crawford Path 1.4 miles to Mt. Washington summit to feel very accomplished for having just climbed the mountain rather than driven up like the crowds of people there that you will see.

My favorite part of the hike is leaving the summit along the Gulf Side Trail and the views over the Mt. Clay, Jefferson, Adams, and Madison. The Gulf Side Trail is a very leisurely, mostly flat walk through alpine country. After .7 miles, you will take the Jewell Trail to the left to hike back down the mountain to the parking lot. 

The beginning of the Jewell Trail on your way down is a bit of a scramble, dropping just over 1000' in a very short distance. After that, the hike down travels through beautiful forest for just around 2.5 miles to the parking lot and trailhead. 

The two most important things to remember when doing this hike is to not be deceived by the relatively short mileage and to keep in mind that a good portion of it is above tree line where there is no shelter from the elements. On a nice summer day, it will still likely be between 40 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit above 5,000'. Mt. Washington is home to the worst weather in the entire country so it's best to be prepared for anything. 

Pack List

  • Water/filter (there are plenty of places along the Ammonoosuc below the Lakes of the Clouds to fill water if you have a filter, after the summit of Washington there are none on Gulf Side and fewer on Jewell)
  • Plenty of layers and a down jacket
  • Rain jacket
  • Food
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen 
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Chris Mongeau Explorer

I am a 26 year old lifestyle and travel photographer from Providence, Rhode Island. I spend my time planning trips, scouring maps, and drinking lots of coffee. I love sharing travel tips and hearing stories from other folks, feel free to get in touch with any questions!

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