Tuckerman Ravine and the Great Gulf Wilderness

Date of Hike: 7/18/10

Tuckerman Ravine Trail: 4.2 miles
Gulfside Trail/Mount Clap Loop: 2.3 miles
Sphinx Trail: 1.1 miles
Great Gulf Trail: 2.0 miles
Nelson Crag / Old Jackson Road: 5.2 miles
Total Miles: 14.8 miles (7,000 feet elevation gain)

Trip Report:
- The forecast on Mount Washington called for starting in the clouds then clearing to in and out of the clouds under mostly sunny skyies...Perfect weather for a long day hike!
- On Trail at 7:30am, summit of Washington at 10:00am, finished at 4:30pm. Temps below treeline in the 70's with decent views, Mount Washington Summit in the morning was 49 degrees with wind chill of 40, very low visibility, winds of 30-50mph.
- I decided to hike up Tuckerman Ravine to the summit which I had not done since I was a teenager, I had descended "Tucks" several times since then but for some reason just didn't get back to hiking up it.
- The views hiking up the headwall were pretty interesting, to the east towards the Wildcat Ridge were sunny with high cloud cover but immediately above me were a thick blanket of clouds that soon came rolling in. (click here for video clip)
- Once above the headwall I was in the clouds with visibility at about 75 to 150 feet which dropped to about 50 feet with some pretty good wind gusts at the summit observatory and along the Cog Railway. (click here for video clip)
- From Washington my next goal was to hike over Clay and to the Sphinx Col where I would hike down the Sphinx Trail and check out my newly adopted trail the Sphinx.  While hiking on the Mount Clay Loop Trail the views opened up for a few minutes here and there from time to time.
- It was my first time on the Sphinx Trail and loved it, it's steep, rocky, part of the trail is a mossy brook bed, passes by a couple of awesome cascades, and has rough and rugged footing as well as great views into the great gulf. The trail is in excellent shape and the only thing I'll have to do for now is clip back a couple of overgrown branches here and there and make sure the couple of water bars are clear.
- Once I reached the Great Gulf trail I had two options, descend to Pinkham Notch in the woods with no views via Great Gulf, Madison Gulf, and Old Jackson Road OR hike one of the best parts of a trail around UP the Great Gulf headwall and then over to the Nelson Crag Trail back to Pinkham enjoying many miles with many views...of course I chose the hike with the views!
- As I ascended the headwall above the clouds continued to blanket Washington (so much for that forecast!) but everywhere else in the Great Gulf up to Jefferson through Madison was wide open with sunlight and high puff clouds making for some great views.
- Last year when I hiked up the Great Gulf Trail I lost the trail about halfway up and ended up about .1 miles to the left of the trail, this year I was able to stay on the trail and what a difference that made making the ascent much more enjoyable.
- Once above the headwall I was back in the clouds until I hooked up with the Nelson Crag Trail where I was awarded with great views of the Northern Presidentials to my left, the Wildcat/Carter/Moriah Range in front of me, and partial views of Huntington and Tuckerman Ravine up to the Boot Spur Ridge back and to my right.
- Once back below treeline I was exhausted and had to gut out the last 1.1 miles on Nelson Crag and another 1.7 miles on Old Jackson Road but at the end of the day it was worth it as I got to hike up the most traveled trail up Washington (Tuckerman Ravine), check out one of the least traveled trails in the Whites (Sphinx), enjoy the great Great Gulf Wilderness views while climbing up the Great Gulf headwall, and enjoy the descent above treeline on the Nelson Crag Trail!

Pictures: Click here for all pictures

Bright Sun and Puffy Clouds
Above Hermit Lake Shelters
Last of the Snow (near lower right)
in Tuckerman Ravine
Tuckerman Ravine Trail
Mount Clay Loop
Sphinx Col
Looking down the Great Gulf Trail
to Spaulding Lake
Nelson Crag Trail with the Boot Spur
off in the Distance


  1. How are you able to pull off all these long hikes with that much elevation??!! Do you have a training regiment?

  2. Hey there Anonymous!

    I train early every morning (6am) at the gym, I do an endurance workout which focuses on reps and correct form with free weights for about 50 minutes, then do a core workout for about 45 minutes. In the evenening I'll walk about 5 miles...I used to run 3 miles but I have a dog and he doesn't run, he loves his walks!