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  1. #1
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    Default Parking/AMC shuttles in NH

    Wondering about parking at Pinkham and Crawford notches, specifically security, proximity to the trail, and proximity to the AMC shuttle buses. I've already looked up info on these spots, but would love to hear firsthand knowledge of these spots/shuttles. Thanks!

  2. #2

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    Shouldn't be an issue. I parked at the AT trailhead in Crawford overnight with no problem. Parking at Pinkham can be an issue on weekends, their lot often fills up early and you have to use the auxiliary lot and hope that isn't full too. Pinkham is on the trail, the AT passes right through the parking lot.

    There are actually two places you can park at Crawford. One is at the highland center which would be the most secure, the other is at the actual AT trailhead, which only has room for half a dozen cars. You can get the shuttle at either location.

    Sounds like you want to do the traverse from Crawford to Pinkham or visa versa. There are several was to get to Mizpah hut and Nauman tent site. The "easy" route is up the Crawford path, a little more difficult is the Webster-Jackson trail. Both of these are accessed from the Highland center. The difficult route is the AT up Webster cliffs, which can be intimidating as it is very exposed and your right on the edge of the cliff. Not a good place to be if it's windy or raining.
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  3. #3

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    Oh forgot to say if you park at the Highland center but want to go up the AT route, you still pay $24 to be shuttled 3 miles. Do not attempt to walk the road.

    Due to the way the shuttle schedule works, it's probably best to hike SOBO from Pinkham and take the afternoon shuttle back from Crawford.
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  4. #4

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    Pinkham is probably the safest parking lot in the area with the exception of parking across from the town hall in Gorham (which has cops driving by it 24/7 as the police station is in the town hall). Pinkham has a security guard at night that makes rounds on occasion. The parking at Crawford Notch is actually 4 lots, there are generally no issues with security in any one of them .

    Crawford Notch is somewhere a lot of folks get confused. The AMC Highland Center and its associated parking lots are located just north of the Notch. The AT does not run through this area yet it is a popular spot to start a hike. The actual AT crosses the south end of the notch just about 4 very steep miles down RT 302. The AT is the Ethan Pond Trail on the West side of the highway and the Webster Cliff Trail to the east. The AMC shuttle goes to both the Highland Center and Webster Cliff.

    The upper parking lots near the Highland Center are all fairly busy with frequent traffic. The actual Highland Center lot is signed for AMC Highland Center guests only. I am not aware if they enforce the sign. There is large lot for the Crawford Path across the street a short distance up Mt Clinton road. That lot is screened with trees from the road and the least visible. There is smaller lot near the old train station south of the Highland Center that is very visible but off RT 302. The last lot is south of there on the west side of RT302. Its get a lot of traffic pulling in and out. The actual parking at Webster Ciff/Ethan Pond crossing is not much, just a wide spot off RT 302. It has route 302 traffic but no local traffic. Its probably the sketchiest of the lots from a break in point of view (but not known for break ins)

    I live locally and do not use the AMC shuttles. The key thing to realize is they are predominantly for hut guests and they do fill up. They are not full size buses. You can make reservations in advance and may want to do so or take your chances as a walk on. They frequently fill up on weekends. Read the schedules here https://www.outdoors.org/lodging-cam...odging-shuttle. Their schedule may not be convenient to you but they are to hut guests. There are local shuttle firms but they will be more expensive then the AMC.

  5. #5
    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
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    There was a bunch of construction equipment parked by the train station, filling up most of the lot Wednesday morning when we drove past to get to the Ethan Pond Trail head to pick up my GF's car parked there for five days. No issues with her car over that period. I can't wait for them to finish widening the Notch and remove that equipment.

  6. #6

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    If you spend your last night at either Osgood (going NOBO) or Nauman (going SOBO) you have enough time to get to the shuttle back around to where you started.

    I used the shuttles twice this summer and found it to be convenient. Both times I was a walk on with no problem, but it was early summer and non-weekend.
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  7. #7
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    Thanks for all the good advice! Plan is to park at Pinkham since it appears to be the safest/most convenient parking. Shuttle to Liberty Springs parking to take AT Nobody back to Pinkham. Bail out plan (if necessary due to weather, time constraints, etc...) is to get off at Crawford and catch shuttle back to Pinkham. Looking truly forward to this trip!

  8. #8
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    Correction! Nobo, not Nobody! Lol

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by icebeard View Post
    Thanks for all the good advice! Plan is to park at Pinkham since it appears to be the safest/most convenient parking. Shuttle to Liberty Springs parking to take AT Nobody back to Pinkham. Bail out plan (if necessary due to weather, time constraints, etc...) is to get off at Crawford and catch shuttle back to Pinkham. Looking truly forward to this trip!
    I took the shuttle from the AT trailhead in Crawford to Franconia. The only problem is you don't get there until nearly 11AM. I didn't get to Garfield until nearly dark - 8:30 PM - on one of the longest days of the year. I would suggest spending the first night at Liberty Spring campsite. That makes for a short day, but once past Liberty Spring there is no camping until you get to Garfield. The trail is all above tree line, very steep and difficult. Apparently there is "Stealth" camping at Garfield pond, but I couldn't find the sites. The climb up and over Garfield is a killer at the end of the day.

    This is a difficult section logistically if your not using the huts. Designated camping sites are few and far between. There are very few stealth sites and they're not in convenient locations -if you can find them at all. Don't underestimate the difficulty of this stretch of trail and how soon it gets dark this time of year.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    I took the shuttle from the AT trailhead in Crawford to Franconia. The only problem is you don't get there until nearly 11AM. I didn't get to Garfield until nearly dark - 8:30 PM - on one of the longest days of the year. I would suggest spending the first night at Liberty Spring campsite. That makes for a short day, but once past Liberty Spring there is no camping until you get to Garfield. The trail is all above tree line, very steep and difficult. Apparently there is "Stealth" camping at Garfield pond, but I couldn't find the sites. The climb up and over Garfield is a killer at the end of the day.

    This is a difficult section logistically if your not using the huts. Designated camping sites are few and far between. There are very few stealth sites and they're not in convenient locations -if you can find them at all. Don't underestimate the difficulty of this stretch of trail and how soon it gets dark this time of year.
    Yeah, I've revised my game plan a bit. Was originally trying to avoid the huts, but like you stated it is difficult to plan realistic goals without incorporating them! With that being said here's my revised itinerary:
    Day 1- Franconia notch to Greenleaf hut. 7.5
    Day 2- Greenleaf hut to Guyot 9.4
    Day 3- Guyot to Crawford notch 11.9
    Day 4- Crawford notch to Lake of the Clouds Hut 11.1
    Day 5- Lake to Pinkham 14.9 alternative Lake to Madison hut 7.1
    Day 6- (if needed) Madison hut to Pinkham 7.8
    Do these seem realistic?

  11. #11
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    Or on Day 4 Crawford to mizpah hut 6.4
    Day 5 Mizpah hut to The Perch 10.3
    Day 6 The Perch to Pinkham 9.3

  12. #12

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    Lakes to Pinkham is a killer day. A 12-14 hour hike for most people. The only problem with Greenleaf is that is a LONG way down a steep a shoulder of Lafayette. 1.1 miles and 1000 feet down - and then of course back up in the morning. Looked to me like a real knee cruncher and some butt sliding to get there. Of course, there will be a fair amount of that from Franconia to Pinkham just on the AT.

    There is no camping at Crawford. You'd have to stay at the Highland center or Ethan Pond. It's a quick 2.5 miles to the notch from Ethan Pond.

    Don't know when you plan on doing this hike, but if it's in the near future you'd better check for space at the huts. It will probably be quiet for the next couple of weeks and then get booked solid for when the colors usually come out in late September.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  13. #13
    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
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    I saw a few stealth spots between Lafayette and Garfield this past week. One at the base of Lafayette had a little spring or seep next to it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by icebeard View Post
    Yeah, I've revised my game plan a bit. Was originally trying to avoid the huts, but like you stated it is difficult to plan realistic goals without incorporating them! With that being said here's my revised itinerary:
    Day 1- Franconia notch to Greenleaf hut. 7.5
    Day 2- Greenleaf hut to Guyot 9.4
    Day 3- Guyot to Crawford notch 11.9
    Day 4- Crawford notch to Lake of the Clouds Hut 11.1
    Day 5- Lake to Pinkham 14.9 alternative Lake to Madison hut 7.1
    Day 6- (if needed) Madison hut to Pinkham 7.8
    Do these seem realistic?
    if you seriously think you can do lakes to pinkham notch (it can be done, but maybe not everyone would enjoy doing it) then just do franconia notch to galehead and dont waste effort and time going down to greenleaf

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdoczi View Post
    if you seriously think you can do lakes to pinkham notch (it can be done, but maybe not everyone would enjoy doing it) then just do franconia notch to galehead and dont waste effort and time going down to greenleaf
    or franconia notch to garfield campsite. memory is a bit hazy and ive never done it personally but garfield campsite to crawford notch is probably possible, mostly because zealand falls hut to the notch is shockingly easy compared to all the other terrain around it.

  16. #16
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    Every time I visit the Whites I have to reread the regulations for camping there. If you plan on doing any camping outside of designated sites I think this pdf is helpful. If there is a more current version please someone let me know.

    https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE...rdb5363715.pdf
    LT End-to-Ender 2017; AT from Lehigh Gap to Hudson River; NH 48
    "Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in." - Isaac Asimov

  17. #17

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    That is the most recent. The key thing to realize is that whoever developed it either intentionally or inadvertently mixed the voluntary Leave no Trace recommendations with actual WMNF regulations. Even though "rules" are mentioned on the second page, the adjacent Leave No Trace section are not rules, they are recommendations. The best approach is if you want to know the rules skip the second page and go direct to the 3rd page.

    Note the FS has been known to post frequently used/overused sites as closed to camping, they are not listed anywhere I have found. The section of ridgeline just outside the Liberty Springs RUA seems to be a popular place for this to happen.

  18. #18
    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    That is the most recent. The key thing to realize is that whoever developed it either intentionally or inadvertently mixed the voluntary Leave no Trace recommendations with actual WMNF regulations. Even though "rules" are mentioned on the second page, the adjacent Leave No Trace section are not rules, they are recommendations. The best approach is if you want to know the rules skip the second page and go direct to the 3rd page.

    Note the FS has been known to post frequently used/overused sites as closed to camping, they are not listed anywhere I have found. The section of ridgeline just outside the Liberty Springs RUA seems to be a popular place for this to happen.
    is that why all the FPA notices seem to be backwards? They say you are entering one, when it should be leaving? We were a long ways down Liberty Springs trail towards the parking lot, but still a couple miles from the trail head, when we started seeing entering FPA signs. From what I can see, through-hikers tend to ignore those signs, anyway.

  19. #19
    Registered User somers515's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    That is the most recent. The key thing to realize is that whoever developed it either intentionally or inadvertently mixed the voluntary Leave no Trace recommendations with actual WMNF regulations. Even though "rules" are mentioned on the second page, the adjacent Leave No Trace section are not rules, they are recommendations. The best approach is if you want to know the rules skip the second page and go direct to the 3rd page. . . .
    Thanks peakbagger! I absolutely attempt to follow the WMNF regulations and I also try to follow the LNT recommendations too. As anyone who reads the pdf I linked can tell, it's not that easy sometimes and I have sympathy for anyone who honestly tries to follow the regulations and the recommendations but inadvertently messes up.

  20. #20

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    The issue with the backcountry regulations is the WMNF rarely if ever has backcountry rangers enforcing them. The budgets are tight and staffing is low. Generally a camper that sets up late and gets going early without building a fire pit is highly unlikely to get tagged. The folks who are taking a risk are the ones that set up long term camp for a couple of days in a RUA. Folks do get tagged on occasion along the Lincoln Woods trail and the renamed section past Franconia Falls (now called Bondcliff trail). I have also heard of occasional enforcement near Liberty Springs. Most of the huts and campsite along the AT in the whites have areas that they will unofficially direct hikers to when overfull.

    It come down to resources versus impact. There used to be enforcement on Jefferson Notch road for road side campsites. When the state repaired the road after severe washouts, they opened up more pull offs and these are all getting used and "improved", the ground is bare and the browse line around the sites is expanding. I would suggest that enforcement is easier and far more effective in reducing impact dealing with road side campsites than backcountry overnighters.

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