Mount Washington State Park is home to a network in intertwined and interconnecting trails, but there are five primary trails used to day hike Mount Washington:

  • Tuckerman Ravine Trail
  • Lion’s Head Trail
  • Boott Spur Trail
  • Jewell Trail
  • Ammonoosuc Trail

Each trail offers a slightly different hiking experience, both in terms of scenery and degree of difficulty. For an up-and-back hike, several options for combining multiple trails into a single day hike are also described below.

Tuckerman Ravine Trail and Lion’s Head Trail

The two shortest popular routes up Mount Washington are Tuckerman Ravine Trail and Lion’s Head Trail. Both depart from Pinkham Notch, clock in at 4.2 miles one-way, and rise about 4,300 vertical feet. Lion’s Head Trail is steeper and more rugged than Tuckerman Ravine Trail so it tends to get less traffic, but it also offers better views during the slog up the mountain. Some day hikers make a loop by ascending on Lion’s Head (it is much easier to hike up a tough trail than down it) and descending via Tuckerman Ravine. Make no mistake, though: both trails are extremely strenuous, especially the climb up the headwall of the ravine and then the final push up to the summit cone.

Boott Spur Trail

The 5.4 mile Boott Spur Trail also approaches Mount Washington from the east but from the other side of the ravine. Although it is a little longer than Tuckerman Ravine and involves a few hundred feet greater gain in elevation to get to the spur itself, the trail itself is no more difficult, and the extra mileage is rewarded with a quicker route to break through treeline, resulting in better views throughout the hike, and much more solitude on the trail. A day hike loop can be made with Boott Spur Trail and either Tuckerman Ravine or Lion’s Head.

Jewell Trail

The easiest approach up Mount Washington is via the Jewell Trail. It begins in the parking lot of the Cog Railway station on Base Road. About 5.2 miles one-way, the trail gains “only” 4,000 feet of elevation and is generally more moderate than the other trails to the summit. Of course, moderate is a relative term; it is still an unrelenting, muscle-aching upward hike, involving giant steps up granite boulders for much of the route above tree line. But the views are amazing and continuous throughout the upper stretch, and watching the cog railroad train chugging up and down the mountain only adds to the memories of the hike.

Ammonoosuc  Ravine Trail

The Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail also departs from the Cog Railway parking lot, so a good loop hike ascends via the Ammonoosuc and returns on the Jewell. The Ammonoosuc is a little shorter than the Jewell Trail (4.5 miles one way) but considerably steeper and more rugged for a long section. For those wishing to visit the Lake of the Clouds AMC hut as part of your Mount Washington day hike, the Ammonoosuc Trail is the way to go.

Other Trails

Other trails that alone or in combination can be part of a Mount Washington day hike include the Great Gulf Trail, Huntington Ravine Trail, and the Nelson Crag Trail.

Trail Resources

Further reading on Mount Washington day hikes

Looking for more information about day hiking Mount Washington? Here are some pages to check out.

Learn about our annual Mount Washington HIKE for Mental Health

Interested in joining a great hike, for a great cause? Learn about HIKE for Mental Health's annual Summit Mount Washington day hike.


Mount Washington Day Hiking Trails — 13 Comments

    • Yes. If it is busy day on the Cog, you may have to wait to get a seat down, possibly until their last run, since they give priority to those who rode the Cog up, but they will get you down.

      • They will not get you down if they are sold out of tickets. I wanted to purchase a ticket at the bottom for the way down only and I was told that I don’t need to buy a ticket yet and can buy on top. They also said that they get everyone down and they will even push extra people on. But after climbing to the top they said they are sold out and too bad.

        • We have heard some similar reports, but have also been told by staff that they will not strand someone on the top and will eventually get you down. You might have to wait for the last train of the day but they will get you down.

  1. Hi,

    Which trails are recommended if you’d like to hike up but take the Cog down so that you return to where your car is parked?

  2. I remember we hike up and Back down I don’t remember trail we hike because it was back in the late 70s when I was at eagleton school great berrington mass As a kid we got to see the inside where they can sleep if got stucK in snow storm it was just small place then bet it lot bigger now we had a great time too

  3. Sounds like ammo has some vertical scrambles or hiking on scary narrow ledges, which I’m too scared to do. Does jewel, lions head or tuckerman have these? Thank you

    • Hi Donna, I think the Jewel is the one for you. All the trails are a bit of a scramble or rock-hop near the summit, but the Jewel is definitely the most vertigo-friendly. It has a few steep moments on the final climb, but nothing that induce a fear of falling.

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