Summit Mount Jefferson, Mount Clay, and Mount Washington

Caps Ridge Trailhead, Randolph, New Hampshire, United States

  • Activities:

    Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Point-to-Point

  • RT Distance:

    10.5 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    4455 Feet

Easy Parking
Forest
Scenic

Knock three peaks off the 4000' list including the tallest in the Northeast, Mount Washington. This hike will give you challenging terrain, incredible views and lead you through a ridgeline where you feel like you're wandering through a far away land.

Hike with at least one other and take two cars. First drop one car at the Cog Railway parking lot (Base Station Rd, Bretton Woods, NH). Jump into the second car and drive about 15 minutes to the Caps Ridge Trailhead on Jefferson Notch Road ( N 44° 18' 15"W 71° 21' 42" )

The Caps Ridge Trail will lead you to Mount Jefferson Peak in 2.5 miles with a 2730' gain. Check your map as several trails merge at the peak and head onto the Mt. Jefferson Loop trail which in .3 miles will intersect with the Gulfside trail. Continue on the Gulfside trail until you merge with Mount Clay Loop trail. Follow the trail up to the peak of Mount Clay that sits at 5533'. Pay no attention to how far Mt. Washington may look, you'll make it there soon. Continue .7 miles down Mount Clay Loop trail to merge back onto the Gulfside Trail. Here, you'll follow along the Gulfside trail which runs parallel to the cog railway for a bit and eventually crosses over it. Mt. Washington peak is well in sight and close at this point but navigating the trail can be difficult. Look for carins and trail markers and eventually find the Trinity Heights Connector which will lead you to the peak of Mount Washington, 6288'. Most of this hike is above treeline which makes for breathtaking views and scenery, but can also make for unpredictable weather. Mt. Washington is knows for "the worst weather in America" so come well prepared.

Mount Washington Peak is often very crowded as the auto road as well as the cog railway run up to the peak. It offers a large indoor visitor center with a cafeteria and restrooms. Enjoy some lunch and prepare for the hike down.

Begin your descent down Crawford Path which will lead you to Lake of the Clouds Hut. Be sure to check out the lake and feel free to stop in to the hut if hiking during the summer season (June-Sept). Lake of the Clouds would also be a great place to spend a night (Reservations required, weekends book up very fast and early in the season (http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/huts/lakes/)

Mt. Monroe is in plain sight and .4 miles up. It's tempting to check off another peak; however, you may be feeling very tired at this point having completed 7.4 miles.

From the hut head down the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail where in 3.1 miles you will reach your car, hopefully packed with a comfy pair of shoes and a cold beer.

Pack List

  • 10 essentials
  • Warm layers
  • Map
  • Trekking poles
  • Money/credit card (to purchase anything at the peak)
  • Camera
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Beautiful foliage, around this time there is snow about a quarter of the top is covered and sleepers with ice forming on several rocks. Great hike beautiful views. Layer up Temperature change real quick.

4 months ago
4 months ago

Leah Joy

Recreation Therapist professionally. On my own time I love to pursue adventures- Ski, Bike, Hike are my favorites!

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