Mt Washington, Tuckerman Ravine NH

• 4-star hike
• 7.8 mile part-loop
• Hard difficulty | Gain 4,200 ft (Peak 6,288 ft)
• Mt Washington State Park | White Mountains
• Driving directions: Trailhead

Bowl-shaped valley with hiker descending. Clouds above touching the mountaintops on the horizon.
Looking down Tuckerman Ravine.

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Do you like challenging hikes to the highest peaks? Do you like tall waterfalls and spectacular ravines? Do you like hiking over rocks? Lots of rocks? Well, we’ve got the trail for you. And even more rocks, too.

Not only the highest mountain in the Northeastern states, but also the most prominent peak East of the Mississippi River, at 6,288 feet of elevation Mount Washington is likely to be equally high on your list of notable hiking destinations.

Possibly the most popular hiking route to the summit is on the East flank - primarily the 3.9 mile Tuckerman Ravine trail. We chose this approach, combined with an equidistant and parallel side-trip to the rocky Lion Head prominence to add more scenic variety.

Tuckerman, Lion's Head. Expand Map

The trail begins at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, appointed with restrooms, store and even overnight lodgings, in addition to a large parking lot. Start out by sharing the trail with folk strolling up to the Crystal Cascades waterfall, then continue up the valley alongside and across the Cutler River. The gradually ascending route becomes more rocky, and you’ll be picking your footholds from here to the summit as you step from one rock to the next, all the way to the summit.

Lion's Head 4★
3.9 mi ea way, Hard, Gain 4,200ft
Trailspotting Map at AllTrails

Our chosen route via Lion Head requires a right turn off the main trail after just over two miles. This route involves an early steep climb involving some large boulders and a shallow but long chimney. Thankfully there are footholds carved into rock to make the route easier to tackle, and well-built wooden steps up the only sheer granite incline.

Lion Head affords some great views over Tuckerman Ravine and towards Pinkham Notch that you wouldn’t see from the other trail. This route does however expose you to more weather than you will find in the sheltered ravine. If you’re trying to choose between the two, know that both routes are similar in length and involve about the same amount of rock scrambling.

The image depicts a forest trail with two individuals walking on a rocky path. The surrounding trees display early autumn colors, with hints of yellow among the predominantly green foliage. The trail appears serene, offering an immersive nature experience.
Rocks. Rocks everywhere.

Tuckerman Ravine 4★
3.9 mi ea way, Hard, Gain 4,100ft
Trailspotting Map at AllTrails

Tuckerman Ravine is a large U-shaped bowl with steep, looming rock faces. Tall waterfalls flow from the ravine in several slender ribbons to the valley floor below. The trail carefully traverses up the North side of the bowl across irregular rocky steps, occasionally and dramatically close to the edge, but thankfully without any particularly challenging sections.

You’ll want to carefully prepare for changing weather on Mount Washington, a place famous for erratic and extreme weather. Temperatures will drop as you climb, and thick cloud can make navigation difficult. Thankfully the final boulder-strewn ascent is well marked by cairns and yellow blazes - just stay within sight of these and you’ll be fine. If you suddenly can’t see them, then you’re likely off trail and will need to retrace some steps.

The summit is something of a culture shock after a long hike through nature. You’ll find yourself surrounded by the bustle of visitors from the Western side of the mountain, who either drive up the auto road or take the popular cog railway to the top. Hey, at least you can take advantage of a hot chocolate from the mountaintop cafĂ© before embarking on the return leg of your journey back to the trailhead.

The image depicts a rocky terrain covered in a thick fog. A cairn, which is a human-made pile of stones, stands prominently in the foreground as a navigational marker amidst the rugged landscape. The mist envelops the scene, creating an ethereal and mysterious atmosphere that obscures the view beyond a few meters, highlighting the cairn as a point of reference in an otherwise indistinct environment.
Final ascent through the clouds.

The image depicts an old-fashioned train with a steam locomotive and a single passenger car, labeled “MT. WASHINGTON,” on railroad tracks. The setting is foggy, which creates a mysterious and ethereal atmosphere around the train. This image might be interesting due to the historical design of the train, its location suggesting it is used for ascents of Mount Washington, or the atmospheric conditions that give it a unique appearance.
Ghost train: Washington's Cog Railway in the fog.

 WARNING  Hiking in this location demands serious preparation due to upredictable weather, challenging terrain, isolated routes and lack of connectivity. Temperatures can drop suddenly and storms are common. Before tackling this trail please inform yourselves of the dangers, precautions and how to equip yourself. Be ready to turn back at the first signs of a problem - there's always another day, so long as you stay safe.

• Official: New Hampshire State Parks
• AMC 4,000 Footer List: #1 Mt Washington
• Trailspotting: Day Hikes of NH's 4,000 Footers
• Public Maps at AllTrails: Tuckerman Ravine

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