Although not on the AT but just off of it, are two of the steepest trails in the Northeast. Huntington Ravine is considered to be the toughest non technical trail in the US. It ascends from the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to the Alpine Garden on Mt. Washington. The steepest section ascends 1,400 feet in .75 miles on a sheer granite face. Here is a passage from the White Mountain Guide official trail description: "This is the most difficult regular hiking trail in the White Mountains. Many of the ledges demand proper use of handholds for safe passage...the exposure on several of the steepest ledges is likely to prove extremely unnerving to novices and those who are uncomfortable in steep places. The use of this trail for descent is strongly discouraged"
The Six Husbands Trail connects the Great Gulf to the cone just below the summit of Mt Jefferson and intersects with the AT. The steepest section ascends 1,520 feet in .8 miles. Here's a passage from the Guide: "...soon (the trail) begins to attack the very steep main buttress, the north knee of Mt. Jefferson, passing by one boulder cave and through another. At 1.0 miles it ascends a steep ledge on a pair of wooden ladders, then climbs under an overhanging ledge on a second pair, with a tricky spot near the top that can be quite dangerous if wet..." also there is a sign posted at the beginning of the trail that reads: "Warning, do not attempt this trail unless you are in top physical condition".
also in nh,not on the at itself, is the madison gulf trail up the headwall thats just as steep as the other two.
Mad gulf trail is not as bad as the guide describes but given that its adjacent to hut and looks like a nice option for descending, I expect AMC exercised a bit of hyperbole. I still wouldn't recommend it with a pack on or if there is any dampness in the air.
The hike down into the NOC is a knee slayer.
the climb down to noc, was steep, but as id just finished hiking through an ice storm, practically ran down. the mountains down south have some long uphills ,but generally skirt the summits. in the north the trails go straight up and over, with a minimum of switchbacks. i found the south much easier with nothing as steep as nh and w.me.
Last edited by hikerboy57; 01-03-2014 at 23:32.
Here are the results for top 25 steepest 1 mile segments on the AT*
1 - 1794.1 to 1795.1, 1760': Asquam Ridge Trail to Kinsman Notch (2180' in 1.7m)
2 - 2181.6 to 2182.6, 1640': O Joy Brook to The Gateway (2120' in 1.4m)
3 - 1858.6 to 1859.6, 1640': Mt Madison to Osgood Tentsite (2850' in 2.3m)
4 - 1865.6 to 1866.6, 1500': Pinkham Notch to Wildcat E (2000' in 1.5m)
5 - 1869.9 to 1870.9, 1430': Carter Notch to Carter Dome (1530' in 1.1m)**
6 - 1813.4 to 1814.4, 1420': Liberty Brook to Franconia Ridge Trail (2180' in 1.8m)
7 - 1880.1 to 1881.1, 1360': Just north of Mt Moriah to First Crossing of Rattle River (1600' in 1.3m)
8 - 1930.8 to 1931.8, 1340': Hall Mtn Lean-to to Sawyer Notch (1530' in 1.3m)
9 - 1823.8 to 1824.8, 1330': Galehead Hut to South Twin Mtn (1130' in 0.8m)
10 - 1907.8 to 1908.8, 1330': Mahoosuc Notch to Mahoosuc Arm (1600' in 1.4m)
11 - 1839.6 to 1840.6, 1250': Crawford Notch to Mt Webster (2650' in 3.2m)
12 - 1585.6 to 1586.6, 1230': Mt Prospect to stream at base of Greylock (1450' in 1.4m)
13 - 1985.3 to 1986.3, 1200': Crocker Cirque to South Crocker (1330' in 1.1m)
14 - 1982.9 to 1983.9, 1200': South from Carabassett River (1020' in 0.9m)
15 - 1932.0 to 1933.0, 1200': Sawyer Notch to Moody Mtn (1300' in 1.3m)
16 - 1789.9 to 1790.9, 1180': Last mile to South Peak Moosilauke (total, 2920' in 3.0m)
17 - 1918.5 to 1919.5, 1170': North from East Peak Baldpate (1070' in 0.9m)
18 - 1804.0 to 1805.0, 1170': Eliza Brook to South Kinsman (1310' in 1.4m)
19 - 1964.6 to 1965.6, 1160': Moose & Deer Stream to Saddleback (1480' in 1.9m)
20 - 1818.5 to 1819.5, 1150': Lafayette to Garfield Notch (1460' in 1.5m)
21 - 1701.2 to 1702.2, 1130': North from Thundering Falls Road (1300' in 1.2m)***
22 - 1934.5 to 1935.5, 1090': South Arm Rd to Old Blue (2180' in 2.6m)
23 - 1788.7 to 1789.7, 1080': Bottom of S. Moosilauke (total 2920' in 3.0m)****
24 - 1830.0 to 1831.0, 1070': Zeacliff to Zealand Falls Hut (1070' in 1.0m)
25 - 2000.9 to 2001.9, 1070': Bigelow Avery Peak to Safford Notch (1860' in 2.0m)
*: the mile numbers are not an exact match for the Data Book, since I haven't adjusted it from my GPS tracks yet.
**: Wildcat to Carter Notch is 1120 in 0.8m, but the calculation missed because the entire climb is less than 1 mile. Maybe I'll try half-mile segments next time.
***: This is the most surprising to me. Who remembers this climb? Not me!
****: This is from the field near Glencliff Road, so Moosilauke shows up three times on this list, once for the north side, and twice for the south side.
I was kind of surprised by the results, which is why I'm sharing them here. I hope some of you think this is as entertaining as I do
Maybe Mahoosuc Arm or the north side of Moosilauke.
Smarts Mountain and a lot of stuff in the Whites are
steep and Rocky - north side of Mt. Guyot for example.
Sorry Big Dawg - I know that the section North of Stecoah
is sort of steep and folks huff and puff going up to Brown Fork Gap
but it is not even close to the sustained difficulty and steepness of (for example)
the miles of steep hiking for a Sountbounder up Moosilauke or others I have
mentioned and plenty I have not - heck, St. Johns Ledges in CT is steeper and it
wouldn't make the top 25. That hill where it's steep is only about 1/2 mile, right?
It might be one of the steeper little stretches in the South but
I would say that Albert Mountain is about equal.
Before I did the climb out of NOC, I kept hearing how hard it was. When I finally got there and did it, I thought to myself "You guys haven't hiked in Maine or NH yet have you? This is nothing".
The AT - It has it's ups and downs...
I've covered everything up to Rangeley, but I still think that my hardest climb was South Kinsman NOBO. I was just glad that I hadn't attempted it late the prior afternoon from Beaver Brook Shelter on my 2nd day out.
GA←↕→ME: 1973 to 2014
the biggest steep i remember in the south was albert mtn, and it was too short to be that much of a challenge. a lot of long hills, but very few real "steeps".
Last edited by hikerboy57; 01-05-2014 at 20:16.