View Full Version : White Moutains Trip

11-18-2013, 16:33
When is the best time June through August to hike the Whites and miss through hikers? Trying to select the best time so we have space for 5.

11-18-2013, 17:42
Snarky answer - now would be a good time.
Real answer, in my experience I'm not sure you can entirely miss thru hikers June - August in the Whites. June is early for most of the NOBOs, but you will still see some SOBOs. I've done the Whites during the last week in June for the last 6 or 7 years and don't recall the huts being overrun with thru hikers.

Prime Time
11-18-2013, 17:42
If your sole criteria is less crowded, then the earlier the better. A couple of things though. First, thru hikers will be the least of your concerns with regards to crowds. On the busiest of days for thru hikers which would be late July to mid August, you would run into maybe 15 thru hikers total, north and south bound. On a weekend in this same timeframe you'd run into as many as a 150 day or weekend hikers on the most popular stretches of the AT. So week days in June before school lets out would be the least crowded. It would also be almost unbearably buggy with black flies and may still be quite cool in the highest parts of the Presidential's at the beginning of June.

My advice would be to minimize crowds by staying off the busy trails, which includes most of the trails that make up the AT, and try to avoid a weekend. The best time to go in your window would be late August because the weather is most dependable then and some college age students have begun to go back. Don't even think about Labor Day or Fourth of July weekends.

Your group of 5 should be OK as long as you double up in tents and don't count on shelter space. Your best bet is to be prepared to stealth camp at lower elevations if you can't get to campsites before 5:00 in the afternoon. The chances of all 5 of you getting into a shelter, or finding space for 5 tents at the campsites after 5:00 are about 1 in 20.

Prime Time
11-18-2013, 17:47
Oh, if you are considering staying in the huts (over $100 per person, per night!), then you will most likely require a reservation at Madison Springs and Lakes of the Clouds for any night, and at all the huts on weekends.

11-18-2013, 18:01
thru hikers are in the minority in the whites during the summer.if you stay off the at, there are many trails in the whites you wouldnt see anyone for a day or two.august is prime season.

11-18-2013, 18:50
Yeah, it's not the thru-hikers you have to worry about. There aren't that many and they are pretty spread out by the time they get here. September is when there is the most steady stream of them passing through. It's the locals which take up all the spaces, along with the usual groups like scouts and outward bound programs and the like.

Late July/early August is typically peak tourist season and any weekend all summer long. If your looking to hike the Presidentals (which most consider the Whites) that takes special planning as it is difficult to avoid the AMC huts. What few "stealth" sites there are, are suitable for only a single person, not a group.

But as Hikerboy said, there are other places to go around here which are less populated and just as interesting. One option is simply to car camp at one of the many car campgrounds and do day hikes around the area. Maybe throw in over night trip. Depending on how long you can stay, you might move the base camp to another area to reduce driving time.

11-19-2013, 07:33
Your best chance is about a week after labor day during the week (avoid weekends). You will still encounter thruhikers but there is a marked reduction in overnight traffic. As stated, the AT will still be busy unless you push into October and then risk the chance of getting ice/snow and having to increase your equipment. If on the other hand you just want to visit the whites, the week after labor day is a great week. The eastern Whites on the Maine side of the line has some great backpacking. The Grafton Loop trail in Maine is also a great loop hike.

11-19-2013, 10:22
Hey Plodderman!

The crowds, huts and bears are all part of the fun of hiking in the Whites high-season. Especially fun are the people who bring huge, car-camping tents and take up all the platform space. However, I know that if you plan a stop at the Guyot campsite, you can pretty much count on not being shut out, as it has a very large "overflow" area. The only caveat is that overflow area is at the top of the access trail, which is about .7 from the Spring. If you end up there, you will have to go down to the caretaker's tent, find out the main site is full, get your water and then hike back up. Guyot also has a pretty large three-sided shelter with two sleeping platforms and a porch.

Also really useful are hammocks. Some of the caretakers get kind of nutty about forcing you to camp at a tent platform, even if you have a hammock. The plus side is that legal camping becomes much easier (if have water) as there are many suitable hammock sites, even on steep hillsides. One useful strategy is to plan your hike so you can eat on the trail before reaching a designated campsite, while it is still early in the evening. Then if the site is full, get your water and hike on. Look for a legal hammock site outside the 1/4 mile Forrest Protection Area that surrounds the campsite.

11-19-2013, 10:28
i know everyone will talk about wet conditions and bugs and cold temps and what not but ive on multiple occasions had fantastic times in the whites on weekdays in early june, beautiful weather and the presis practically to myself, all of 20 people staying at lakes of the clouds.

the advice that it isnt thrus you need to worry about is 100% correct though. as ive tried to say ehre many many times, the crowd the AT draws to the whites is a drop in the bucket. you could take the AT out of the whites and the numbers would hardly move.

11-19-2013, 12:13
Thanks so much and I just love the info on Whiteblazes. All the input is much appreciated.