The safety practices for hiking safely on Mount Washington are the same as for hiking in general, with extra attention to be paid to the risks associated with the potential for rapid weather changes and for the ruggedness of the terrain. Here are some ways to prepare for a safe and enjoyable hike.

  1. Very important: prepare yourself mentally, before the hike, to turn back if conditions become dangerous. Once on the trail, with the summit in sight, it can be hard to make that call. It is easier if you begin the hike knowing that the dangers are real and can be life-threatening. If driving rain, sleet, snow, ice, or any other unplanned dangers arise, think safety first. Enjoy the hike the mountain gives you, and return to hike another day.
  2. Check weather reports. While Mount Washington weather can change quickly, it is still important to check the Mount Washington Observatory current conditions and summit forecast.
  3. Study the trails on your intended route, especially the trail crossings and junctions where there is potential to take a wrong turn. Know in advance the trail junctions along the way. Realizing on the mountain that you aren’t sure how to read the map is a bad feeling.
  4. Many hiking preparation lists suggest bringing a map and compass. If you can read a map and compass, that is great advice. If you can’t, it is virtually useless. In that case, stick to well-traffic trails where you know there will be others around, and keep others in sight. Doing this can be a lot easier is hiking as part of group, especially a group with someone who knows the route well. Which brings us the next point…
  5. Hike with a partner or as part of a group, especially if you are not proficient at reading a map or using a compass. If something goes awry, it is great to have someone on hand to assist.
  6. Bring proper clothing and equipment.
  7. Bring a basic first aid kit.
  8. Prepare yourself mentally to turn back if conditions worsen.

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.


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