Presidential Range Traverse

Date of Hike: 12/15/14

Valley Way: 3.8 miles  /  Osgood Trail: 1.0 miles  /  Gulfside Trail: 0.3 miles  /  Airline: 0.6 miles  /  Lowe's Path: 0.3 miles  /  Gulfside Trail: 1.5 miles  /  Jefferson Loop 0.7 miles  /  Gulfside Trail & Snow Whack: 2.5 miles  /  Crawford Path: 1.6 miles  /  Monroe Loop: 0.7 miles  /  Crawford Path: 1.3 miles  / Eisenhower Loop 0.8 miles  / Crawford Path: 1.2 miles  /  Webster Cliff Trail: 0.2 miles  /  Crawford Path: 3.1 miles

Total Miles: 19.6 miles (8,550 feet elevation gained)

Trip Report:
- I took Monday off hoping that the weather would break just right for Whitney and I to get in a long hike.  As the weekend wore on the weather above 4,000 feet called for clear skies, temperatures above freezing and audible wind.  Perfect weather for a late fall Presidential Range traverse!
- We started hiking in the dark and in the clouds around 6:15 a.m. We instantly heated up as we ascended through and then above the clouds around 4,000 feet.  When we reached treeline we were greeted with amazing undercast views of clouds below us resembling an ocean with the tops of peaks looking like islands in this ocean of clouds.  It was quite the site to see throughout the day as the undercast slowly dropped in elevation revealing more and more of the mountains below while melting the snow capped pine trees as the undercast level dipped.
- Above treeline we both enjoyed the one in a million day in the Presidential Range.  Other than heading up Mount Madison, there was barely any wind throughout the day.  The sun was shining bright and powerful as we walked directly towards it, all alone, with the whole ridge to ourselves.  We only saw other hikers on the summit cone of Washington.  Every mile of our hike was just the two of us, the snow, the undercast, and jet planes leaving vapour trails in the sky!
-  According to the calendar this was still officially a fall hike, however, it was full winter conditions at its finest.  Almost all the rocks, roots, and boulders are now hidden beneath the snow meaning it's time for microspikes, snowshoes, and crampons depending on where you are heading.  For our hike, Whitney wore her snowshoes from car to car for the entire 19.6 miles, I wore my microspikes from the car to the summit of Madison and back to the hut, then wore my snowshoes all the way until the last summit of the day, Mount Pierce, before switching back into spikes for the descent below treeline.  Conditions were absolutely perfect for snowshoes between Mount Adams all the way to Mount Eisenhower, before that and after that the trails were packed down enough for light traction like microspikes.
-  Instead of writing more I figure I'll let the pictures tell the story of a perfect day with perfect company on the Presidential Range, enjoy!

Route for the day, click here for details

 Early morning at treeline on the Valley Way Trail

Looking down upon an ocean of clouds from the weather warning sign on the Valley Way Trail

The Kilkenny Range floating above the clouds to the
 Madison Springs Hut waiting for the sun to melt away the frost and rime ice

 Whitney heads up the summit cone of Mount Madison on the Osgood Trail

 A thick blanket of clouds covers the Great Gulf Wilderness and Pinkham Notch with the Carters and Wildcat Ridges rising above the clouds

 Approaching Mount Madison's summit

 View of Mount Washington from Mount Madison

 Mount Adams from Mount Madison

 Looking out towards the Kilkenny Range

Whitney heads towards Madison Springs Hut

 Mount Adams from the Osgood Trail

 Madison Springs Hut and Mount Madison

 Whitney heads up the Gulfside Trail below Mount J.Q. Adams

 Whitney takes in the views on the Airline Trail up to Mount Adams

Whitney heading up the Airline Trail

J.Q. Adams and Mount Madison

 Whitney ascending Mount Adams with J.Q. Adams and Mount Madison behind her

 Mount Jefferson, Clay, and Washington as seen from Mount Adams

Mount Jefferson

 Whitney captures the breathtaking views on camera

 Osgood Ridge blocking the wave of clouds from spilling over into the Great Gulf

 Descending Lowe's Path for a few tenths of a mile

Whitney follows the snowshoe track down from Mount Adams

 Whitney scurries down Mount Adams

Off to Mount Jefferson!

 Along the Gulfside Trail towards Mount Jefferson

 Looking back up the Gulfside Trail

 Following day old hiking tracks in the snow

 Snow drifts and buried scrub line the Gulfside Trail

Traveling along a winter wonderland

 Mount Jefferson

 Zooming in on the Mount Jefferson snow field

 Looking towards Edmands Col

 Undercast floating around the Great Gulf Wilderness

 Heading towards Edmands Col

Edmands Col

 Snow and rime blasted trail sign in Edmands Col

 Whitney ascends the steep snow field below Mount Jefferson

 Jefferson Loop Trail Junction

 Summit mass of Mount Jefferson looks like another planet

 Whitney makes her way up the Jefferson Loop Trail

 Heading up the summit cone of Mount Jefferson

Mount Adams as seen from the northeastern shoulder of Mount Jefferson

 Six Husbands Trail Junction

 Looking south towards Mount Clay, Washington, Monroe, Eisenhower, and Pierce

 Ocean of undercast floating around the southern Presidential Range

Bigger view of the undercast

 Whitney takes in the views

 Monticello Lawn

 Heading south along the Gulfside Trail surrounded by Nature's snowmen

 Mount Clay

 Heading along the Gulfside Trail below Mount Clay

 Whitney heads up towards Mount Clay

Looking south to the Twins and Franconia Ridge

 Mountain islands

 Undercast slowly dropping as the day moves along

The Cog Railway and Mount Monroe

 another shot of the cog and Mount Monroe

Mountains slowly rising above the undercast as it drops

Whitney charges towards Mount Washington

 The sun melting away the snow capped tops of trees as the undercast drops it level

 Whitney with Mount Clay behind her

 Northern Presidential Range

 Cog Railway disappearing into the clouds

 Whitney with Mount Clay, Jefferson, Adams, and Madison behind her

 Making her way up towards Washington

 The snow covered tracks

 An tower covered in rime ice at the summit of Mount Washington

 Wildcats and Carter Dome as seen from the observation tower

 Summit of Mount Washington

 Tip Top House

 Summit area

 This building needs to be chained down to protect it from the high wind speeds!

 Starting the second part of the hike.  Descending the Crawford Path towards Mount Monroe

Whitney heading down from the summit cone of Mount Washington

 Snow fields below Mount Washignton

 Mount Washington snow filled summit cone

Mount Monroe

 Bright afternoon sun shining over the White Mountains

Approaching Mount Monroe

 Lakes of the Clouds!

 Lakes of the Clouds Hut

 Sun hiding behind Mount Monroe

 Lakes of the Clouds and Mount Washington

Whitney heads up the Mount Monroe Loop Trail

 View from Mount Monroe's summit

Heading down from Mount Monroe

 Mount Monroe and Washington peaking up behind it from Mount Franklin

 'Franklin Flats' AKA Presidential Lawn

 Whitney hiking and enjoying the outstanding views

 Undercast blankets the Dry River Wilderness

 Whitney takes off towards Mount Eisenhower

 Undercast at its finest!

 Looking back towards the Northern peaks of the Presidential Range

 On top of the Mount Eisenhower cairn

View of the undercast from Mount Eisenhower

 Mount Eisenhower


 One in a million day for views!

 Last presi awaits, Mount Pierce

 Crawford Path southbound late in the afternoon

 Pierce - Eisenhower col

 Sun falling fast behind the higher peaks

 Whitney on Mount Pierce

 One last awesome view of the undercast form Mount Pierce

The Presidential Range glowing in the late afternoon sun

The Presidential Range!

 Back into the woods along the Crawford Path

 Last stretch of hiking as night falls

The end of the day!


  1. Awesome !

    1. Thank you, glad you like the pics. It sure was a wow view filled day!

  2. Great trip and perfect weather... and of course great pictures! I hope this early season snow is an indicator of what winter will be like.

    1. Thanks, Mike! Hope you are enjoying the snow over in the ADK's :)

  3. Terrific photos, what a beautiful day to be in the mountains!

    1. Thanks, Jeff. The weather was absolutely perfect for our hike!

  4. Thank you for the fantastic pictures and report. Hope to do that some day,

    1. Hope you get out there soon! Glad you enjoyed the pics, much appreciated.

  5. These are the most Beautiful pictures I have ever seen, what a perfect day...can't wait to get up there soon

    1. Thank you Anonymous :) Hope you get a day like Whitney and I had!

  6. I have to agree with "anonymous". These are indeed the most fantastic pics of the White Mts I have ever seen. Fantastic job!!

    1. Thanks, Maineguy. The perfect weather and a good camera goes a long way to being able to get pictures like this. It's not so much me as it is the camera, lol! :)

  7. WOW!!!!!!!!
    Could not have scripted better weather.
    Absolutely gorgeous pictures.

    Climbing Pierce and Eisenhower on the 27th...extended weather is looking good...keeping the fingers crossed!