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4 day Presidential hike

1:00 p.m. on January 9, 2011 (EST)
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Hi. I would like to hike all of the Presidentials in New Hampshire this summer in one 4 day trip. I know it can be done in 2 or 3 days, but wanted it to be relaxing, yet challenging. I live in VT about an hour from Franconia Notch. I've done the Franconia Ridge Trail a few times.

Can someone recommend a starting point and ending point for this adventure and which AMC huts I would need to book? I've ordered a book, but haven't received it in the mail yet and I know it's important to book the huts early. Thanks!

4:53 p.m. on January 12, 2011 (EST)
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I would maybe start near the AMC Highland Center in Crawford Notch. This gives you a few options. You would actually park in the Mt Clinton rd parking area which is $3 per 24 hour period.


You can hike up Crawford path to the top of Pierce and traverse the ridge from Eisenhower all in one go. From there I believe it is only another 3-5 miles to the Lakes of the Clouds hut. Total mileage for that day would be about the 7-10 mile range.


The other option for a slower pace would be to hike up the Crawford path about 2.7 miles to the Mizaph Hut and spend the night there. The next day it's about .9 miles to the top of Pierce, and then the 3-5 miles to the Lakes of the Clouds hut for another stay. 


your plan from there would be up and over washington and beyond, to the eastern side of the presidentials for the remainder of huts and nights, depending on how much longer you want to stay out.


for your more relaxed pace, i'd suggest the second option, staying in the Mizpah hut first. 


Don't forget, the weather in this range is unpredictable and dangerous. It frequently snows in the summer, and weather changes on a dime. Be prepared for this in terms of clothing and emergency equipment. At lower elevations it might be 70. Up high it could be below 30. Also realize that poor weather might ruin or extend your trip. You might have to stay unplanned nights or days at the huts if there is poor weather - hiking in poor weather in this range can and has resulted in serious injuries and deaths on a frequent basis.


Because of this, bring some cash and a credit card with you - not your typical hiking equipment, but maybe necessary to pay for another night at huts in emergencies rather than dying by trying to hike through bad weather.

5:00 p.m. on January 12, 2011 (EST)
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sorry I completely spaced and left out Webster and Jackson. Both are an easy day hike from the Mt Clinton Parking area or from a trail head that starts on Rt 302 a little further down from the AMC Highland Center.


The third option, which I clearly should add, would be for you to to Webster and Jackson first, from the Rt 302 trail head. this is probably a 3-4 mile hike. From there you'd stay a night at Mizpah hut, and the next day, follow my recommendations from option 2, heading up Pierce, traversing Eisenhower, Franklin, Monroe, and staying at Lakes of the Clouds hut.

2:46 p.m. on January 14, 2011 (EST)
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iClimb, have you read "Not Without Peril?" It is an excellent read on the history of the Presidential Range. Sobering, but really good. I feel like I know the mountains from reading it, even though I've never been. Something that I will be changing in the future, of course :)

11:16 p.m. on January 14, 2011 (EST)
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i have read it a couple of times...own it. Great book, but quite somber. Makes you realize how dangerous the most "simple" of hikes can be.

12:18 a.m. on January 15, 2011 (EST)
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What's usage like at the huts these days?  Is it necessary to make reservations far in advance, or is there room for more spontaneous drop-ins?  This may be another factor in kcushman's trip planning.

From my memory (it's been 25-30 years since I've been up there), if I were to do a hut-based traverse of the Presidentials, it would be something like this:  day 1: Crawford Notch to Mizpah Springs Hut, day 2: Mizpah Springs to Lakes, day 3: Lakes to Madison (ouch, that seems long), then day 4: out to Pinkham, and a shuttle back to Crawford Notch.

Myself, I never actually stayed at an AMC hut, other than Pinkham, which doesn't really count.  Well, I take that back, I did stay one night in 1978 the "backpacker room" (with the mice) under Lakes of the Clouds Hut.  I looked online recently and it seems now that room is for emergencies only, but back then (in the days when we drank stream water in the Whites without treating it!!!) they charged a nominal fee to sleep in the room under the hut (where you'd listen to the festivities of the better-heeled crowd cavorting in the regular hut above you).



1:02 p.m. on January 15, 2011 (EST)
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for popular summer months, you should book well in advance 3+ months even - they fill up fast on weekends especially. In the winter, there are only a few open, so it's good on weekend reservations to give yourself at least a few weeks to book it.

1:55 p.m. on January 16, 2011 (EST)
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Hey thanks all...helpful advice. I know about planning safely...I've been up Washington before in one day hike and it's a mountain worth a great deal of respect. I wouldn't be caught up there in bad weather if I could help it...I would wait it out a day...and thanks for the credit card advice! I wouldn't have thought to bring one!  My book just came and I might also read the book you mention.

4:40 p.m. on January 16, 2011 (EST)
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You may want  to visit www.viewsfromthetop.com

It is a NE backpacking website and most of the members live and hike in in this area all year round.

7:14 p.m. on January 16, 2011 (EST)
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he could browse a little on views from the top, but he can't post - it's a rather snobby place that won't let anyone join without a sponsor - and even now I believe no one can join, even with a sponsor. Not sure why it's such an exclusive club, but it has turned me off big time.

6:42 p.m. on January 19, 2011 (EST)
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We did a 4 day three night trip just a couple of years ago. Take it slow and enjoy the journey, it's not a race. Mileage is approximate but close; Day 1, Crawford Notch up the Crawford Path (via trail head parking as previously described) to Mitzpah (about 3 miles all uphill), Day 2 to Lakes of the Clouds Hut (about 5.5 miles), Day 3 (the longest) up over Washington, Clay and Jefferson (forget either Adams too much to bite off) to Madison Spring Hut (roughly 8 miles but nothing easy about it). Day 4 out the Airline trail (knee crushing downhill but only a couple of miles) and take shuttle back to Highland Center in Crawford Notch. We went in September. Perfect weather most of the trip including day three. This should be a life list trek for everyone.

8:54 p.m. on January 19, 2011 (EST)
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1,741 forum posts

he could browse a little on views from the top, but he can't post - it's a rather snobby place that won't let anyone join without a sponsor - and even now I believe no one can join, even with a sponsor. Not sure why it's such an exclusive club, but it has turned me off big time.

 I joined before that became a rule. Not sure why the owner instituted that policy. They do not have a classified section either. The site is not run as a business, so I think that is one reason.

I wouldn't call it snobby, but I know what you mean. He does have a long explanation of why things are that way in the FAQ's or rules section of the site.

April 19, 2014
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