View Full Version : White Mountain Section Hike

01-13-2012, 17:22
Over the past ten years I have sectioned hiked (usually around a 100 mile over 7 days) and am considering the Whites this year. Any information would help.

01-13-2012, 17:28
franconia notch to pinkham notch. the best 7 days of hiking you can find in the east. plan on staying at the huts, though , which can get $$

01-13-2012, 17:38
Thank Hikerboy57 I thought it might be alittle more expenses thean my normal section hike. Last year to hiked form Harpers Ferry to the Shenadoah NP and hardly spent anything.

01-13-2012, 17:44
Google Randolph Mountain Club in Randolph, NH. They have several low-cost, self-serve facilities in the Whites, not too far off the AT in the Presidentials (technically, the Presies, as we call them, are only a part of the White Mountains). Below treeline LNT camping is allowed, but there are posted "no camping" areas (mostly near the huts and tentsites - 1/4 mile radius, I think). Most places, it's a pretty long hike off the ridge until you get to treeline (trees 8' and taller), and water is scarce with the exception of the "official" springs.

01-13-2012, 18:01
you can do pinkham to grafton notch. the amc runs tentsites they charge a small fee for, much less exp than the huts(i think they charge $6/night). although if you start at franconia, you dont have to use the huts until mt wash. as tinker said, the rmc runs a few sites n of madison, and if the weather holds up, you can do crawford to pinkham in 3 days two nights.if you've never hiked franconia ridge on a beautiful summer day, its a must, franconia to pinkham. or if you dont mind stepping off the AT altogether, the pemi wilderness between franconia and crawford is beautiful, many loops you can do, and plenty of sites to camp.

01-13-2012, 18:19
If you can afford it, do a hut to hut traverse. That way you only have to carry a day pack and take time to enjoy the views.

01-13-2012, 18:34
hut to huts have been great trips for me. you travel light,can be alone all day, get to eat a great meal with people from all over the world including many thrus.. I met the guy who used to sing the shaefer beer jingle(shaefer is the one beer to have when you're having more than one") at madison hut. i still fell that even though teyre expensive theyre worth the money. no tent, no bag, no food except day snacks, no stove, you get the idea. and the terrain is much easier to navigate with 10 lbs on your back instead of 30.

01-13-2012, 20:39
I'd carry at least a bag and a tarp or poncho, even on a summer traverse. It is possible to get lost or hurt between huts.

I can't afford the huts, myself, and Lakes of the Clouds, especially, gets overcrowded with people on summer weekends, some of whom take the Cog or shuttle to the summit and saunter down to Lakes for the night. Their clothing isn't dirty.

They are, however, great places to load up on leftover snacks, coffee, and treated water. :D

I always felt that it was ok to use the restrooms and fill up my water bottles if I bought a couple dollars' worth of sweets.

01-14-2012, 08:26
the huts can be a pretty bizarre cross section of humanity- you just have to look at the footwear.brand new all leather $800 boots next to a thrus duct tape patched trail runners and lakes definitely gets a lot of turistas, and yes, i agree with tinker. even if you're doing the huts in summer, the weather can turn nasty pretty quickly, raingear, poncho or tarp should be in your pack,i bring my summer bag anyway(it only weighs a pound) and even in summer, theres been some snow in the ravines as late as july, so layers are essential no matter what the forecast is..

01-14-2012, 09:04
You dont need the huts but it makes things convienient as otherwise you are stealthing in potentially exposed spots or you have to drop down on a side trail.

The trades offs for the huts are

Meet lots of folks from all over in the evening and morning - The trade off is you really have to like people as they cram in like sardines, the bunkrooms are four bunks high and there are kids and other making noise all night, if you are a light sleeper you wont get much sleep.

They cook the meals so you dont have to carry them, usually good food and lots of it - the trade off is they only do one seating which means you cant be out on the trail early in the AM or in the evening when the views are the best unless you want to skip a meal.

Hut spacing, the huts are spaced for a beginner to intermediate hiker to be able to hike in 6 to 8 hours, if you are in shape, you will blow past the huts well before you are ready to stop hiking.

If you have nasty weather, the huts provide a great refuge, there is a good chance that if its a stretch of bad weather, other guests may have shortended their hikes and will not show up leaving more room for walk ins.

General comments

With the exception of Lake of the clouds, there are ways to plan around the other huts especially if you hang.

As for Lake of the clouds, it is possible to start at Mitzpah (or the adjacent tentsites) and make it to the RMC facilities but its a real long day. Many thruhikers, drop down on the Jewell trail just after Mt Washington and set up a camp at a large area of bootleg campsites. Its potentially exposed to weather but many use it. From there you can easilly make it over to the valley way tentsites or down the Osgood trail. Do note you have to go quite far down the Osgood to find a good place to camp.

01-14-2012, 09:15
I did Franconia Notch to Gorham (US 2) in 7 days as a section hike. That was a tough slog, but if you're in good shape, it's doable. It's also a spectacular section. You could do Franconia to Pinkham if you want to take things a bit slower.

01-14-2012, 10:07
Hikerhead and I did Glencliff to Pinkham Notch (89 miles) in 6.5 hiking days on a beautiful stretch of weather in September 2006. Absolutely lovely and memorable section hike, but also my hardest to date. My best advice is to plan on hiking about 1 mph slower than your typical average down south, due to the unevenness of the trail surface combined with elevation change. With a 26-pound pack I typically average 2.3-2.7 mph, but after Kinsman Notch I was well under 2 mph, even without breaks factored in. I recall that my slowest hour was from Madison Spring Hut down to Osgood Junction, a whopping 1.0 mph pace, and that was on dry rock without any wind! Hikerhead averaged half-a-mile-an-hour on his morning climb from Franconia Notch up to Liberty Springs Tentsite, but he's s-l-o-o-o-w on the uphills.
It's a lovely section. Start early, realize that, as a section hiker, you will likely only cover 10-12 miles per day in the Fall; maybe 14-15 in the Summer with longer days. Of course, these mountains can be subjected to really poor weather, which could slow you down even more. Have fun and be safe!

Mr. Clean
01-17-2012, 06:37
There are places to stay other than the huts, but they will typically cost you $8 a night. The stretch between Mitzpah (Nauman) and RMCs "Perch" is long, but you could possibly stay in the Dungeon at Lakes. Or drop below treeline to the west.

01-17-2012, 10:01
...Hikerhead averaged half-a-mile-an-hour on his morning climb from Franconia Notch up to Liberty Springs Tentsite, but he's s-l-o-o-o-w on the uphills.It's a lovely section. Start early, realize that, as a section hiker, you will likely only cover 10-12 miles per day in the Fall; maybe 14-15 in the Summer with longer days. Of course, these mountains can be subjected to really poor weather, which could slow you down even more. Have fun and be safe!1/2 mph? So there really are other people out there as slow as me. Good to know.My only thought is that averaging 10-12 mpd can be pretty tough on a section hiker in the Whites, especially throwing in the climbs out of the notches. Probably not a problem for a thru-hiker as they have their trail legs and lungs. I'd be more comfortable with 8-10 max.

01-17-2012, 13:29
Slow shouldn't be a problem as long as you plan for it (timing, food, and so on). It's not a section you want to rush through anyway, even if you are physically able to do so, because it's drop dead gorgeous and in some places almost other-worldly. Once you do all the work on the ascents, you might as well enjoy being above treeline.

01-17-2012, 13:38
All good advice. It makes the planning so much easier with the good informaiton.

02-13-2012, 11:42
How far is it form Franconia Notch to Gorhman?

02-13-2012, 11:46
About 75 miles

02-13-2012, 11:53
Thank you.

02-13-2012, 12:45
please help me figure out the costs of huts or where to get reservations and subsequent costs

02-13-2012, 14:52
please help me figure out the costs of huts or where to get reservations and subsequent costs
go to :www.outdoors.org

02-16-2012, 02:15
I would recommend getting a "White Mountain Guide from the AMC. Also check current White Mountain Trail conditions at Views from the Top (http://www.vftt.org)

02-16-2012, 09:15
I know this is not a normal winter for snow accumulation, would the first or second week in june be to early for this section hike?

02-16-2012, 09:49
no, especially the way this year is playing out, but june is still one of those anything goes months , just be prepared for wintery conditions above treeline, and make sure you're checking the forecasts.

02-16-2012, 13:06
Early June should be fine. Maybe a little buggy, but no concerns about snow.

There is a feature on the side of King Ravine which is called "the Seven" because when all the other snow is gone, what is left looks like a giant "7" from the valley. Local lore is that when you can't see the 7 anymore, its warm enough to go swiming. Last year, snow lingered in the 7 until early July. This year I doubt if it will hold on until April.

02-16-2012, 15:16
Will be interesting to see how long the Tuck's snow arch endures. Last year, after a snowy winter, it was going strong on July 19, may have made it to end of July. This year I'd imagine the over/under is more like June 19.

02-16-2012, 16:40
Thank You!

02-16-2012, 17:24
Remember that water is somewhat limited above treeline, so take a map to mark the sources. One of the major things that the huts are very good for is refilling water jugs/bags.

AND - bring plenty of sunscreen for those rare cloudless days.

02-16-2012, 17:33
On the weekend closest to June 21st many folks do the presidential traverse. There are a couple of variations but most start or end at Appalachia in Randolph then up to Madison hut and the AT and then south on the AT to Rt 302. The Rt 302 end can vary with most folks coming down Crawford Path but some include the webster Cliff trail (the AT) and end at 302. The usual hiking time is 12 to 16 hours. There is usually a small snow field on the back side of Jefferson that is a novelty.

Mountain Mike
02-16-2012, 18:36
I would recomend this map. It covers most of the Whites & can give you great bad weather alternatives. http://amcstore.outdoors.org/amcstore/product.asp?s_id=0&dept_id=3023&pf_id=PACOADFMIPGDFJJG The Whites can be some of the best hiking on the trail or some of the worst. One year I was atop Mt Washington in June with blizzard like conditions. A year later a t-shirt & wind shell. Milage is much slower due to steepness of the notches. Many of them requiring hand holds. But the view are worth it in great weather. On my thru I stayed at Lake of Clouds in the dungeon. No meals & cheap rate in basement. It was full when I arrived but for same rate I was able to bunk on top a table for the night. Huts are nice but expensive. Other than Lake of Clouds they can be avoided fairly easy although trying to aviod fee campsites & shelters can prove difficult. Unless you are a hammock hanger finding a legal campsite is fairly difficult too.