Mt Jefferson Caps Ridge, NH

• 5-star hike
• 4.5 mile out-and-back
• Medium/Hard difficulty | Gain 2,670 feet
• Bowman, NH | White Mountains
• Driving Directions: Trailhead

The image shows a weathered wooden trail sign at a mountain intersection. The sign, mounted on a post with rocks at its base, indicates directions and distances to various points: “Gulfside Trail” to Mount Jefferson 0.3 miles, “Caps Ridge Trail” 0.7 miles, and “Jefferson Notch Rd.” 2.1 miles. Another sign below points to “The Cornice” leading to the Gulfside Trail for Mount Washington. The background reveals a clear blue sky and a rugged mountain landscape with low vegetation, suggesting high altitude and the potential for challenging hikes or scenic views.
The Cornice junction sign before the final assault to the summit.

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Take a short hike up a tall mountain on this epic trail to the summit of Mount Jefferson, which is an excellent sampler for New Hampshire White Mountain hiking, particularly if you’re visiting or if you’re dipping your toes into tackling the famed four thousand footers.

Located at the top of the highest public road in the state, the trailhead on Jefferson Notch Road sets you well on the way to reach the 5,712 foot summit, but there’s still a vertical half-mile of work yet to be done. Only the first third of the route is under tree cover, so we’d choose sunscreen over bug repellant. Also take note that the Presidential Range is notorious for strong winds and sudden temperature drops so pay attention to the forecast and consider packing extra layers.
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Caps Ridge Trail 5★
4.5 mi, Out & Back, Medium/Hard, Gain 2670ft
Trailspotting Map at AllTrails

The hike begins at a moderate incline on partly rocky ground, but as the vegetation recedes the terrain becomes rockier. Once you reach the ‘caps’ – the smooth outcroppings of granite which afford excellent views all around – your trail is now pretty much all rocks. The pitch of the climb increases from here with increasingly large rocky steps rising out of the mountain. Most of the terrain is navigable without scrambling though an occasional stabilizing hand will come in handy.

Continue straight up when the trail route intersects with the Cornice Trail, then after a little more rocky terrain you’ll finally be at the summit. The peak rewards with crowning views of the White Mountains, made even more spectacular by the accompanying adjacent peaks of Mount Washington to the South and Adams to the Northeast.

Though the trailhead parking lot can accommodate a number of vehicles it can fill up early and cars start parking on the road (parking rules unclear here). Arrive early if possible, or if arriving in the afternoon you're likely to find some spaces opening up. Note that Jefferson Notch Road is usually seasonally closed from November to June, so confirm before setting out during shoulder months.

The image depicts a vibrant landscape view from an elevated vantage point. In the foreground, there are large, smooth rocks with a small, round depression filled with water. Beyond the rocks is a dense forest of coniferous trees stretching into the distance. The forest covers rolling hills and leads up to a prominent mountain peak under a clear blue sky. The scene is interesting for its natural beauty and the contrast between the rocky outcrop and the lush greenery.
Not even half way and already stunning views from the Caps.

Caps Ridge is a very popular route.

Neighboring Mount Washington to the South.

• AMC 4,000 Footer List: #3 Mt Jefferson
• Trailspotting: Day Hikes of NH's 4,000 Footers
• Public Maps at AllTrails: Caps Ridge Trail

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White Mountain National Forest
This trail is part of the 800,000 acre White Mountains managed by the US Forest Service.

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