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.
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 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.
Further reading on Mount Washington day hikes
Looking for more information about day hiking Mount Washington? Here are some pages to check out.
- Clothing and Equipment for a Mount Washington Day Hike
- Getting in Shape to Hike Mount Washington
- Preparing Mentally to Hike Mount Washington
- Safety Precautions Before Your Mount Washington Day Hike
- Frequently Asked Questions about Hiking Mount Washington
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.
- Hike Mount Washington with HIKE for Mental Health
- Summit Mount Washington Smashes Goal
- Amazing photos and trail notes from our 2017 hike
- Painting the mountain orange: 2016 Summit Mount Washington photos
- Stunning views of 4th Annual Summit Mount Washington
- Spirits and Funds Reach New Heights on 3rd Annual Summit Mount Washington