Mount Washington

New Hampshire

Mount Washington

Mount Washington, affectionately known as "the Rock Pile," stands as the highest peak in New Hampshire. Renowned in New England for hiking, backcountry skiing, alpine climbing, and ice climbing, it is nestled just west of NH SR-16, between North Conway to the south and Gorham.

Famous for having "the World's Worst Weather" and holding the record for the highest wind speed ever recorded (231 mph on 12 April 1934), Mount Washington is a prominent feature in the Presidential Range. The range includes New England's five highest peaks, but initially, the entire massif was known as Mount Washington, stretching 30 miles from east to west. It wasn't until the 19th century that the surrounding peaks like Adams, Jefferson, and Madison were individually named. The mountain has a cog railway and a road leading to an observatory, museum, and snack shop at the summit.

Access Point

If driving to the summit, navigate to 7M9W+VH Jackson, New Hampshire.

If hiking, navigate to 7P5W+2Q Gorham, New Hampshire.

The Pinkham Notch Visitor Center is the primary starting point for climbing Mount Washington. It is best for accessing trails like Tuckerman Ravine, Huntington Ravine, Lion Head, and Boot Spur and is conveniently located halfway between Gorham and North Conway on Route 16. Head to the Glen House north of the Notch for the auto road. To reach the cog railroad, take Mt. Clinton Road from Bretton Woods to Marshfield Station, following signs near the Mt. Washington Hotel.

Recommended Route

A short walk leads to the famed rock pile from the summit parking lot.

If you'd like a longer hike, follow the Lion Head Trail.

Mount Washington offers a variety of hiking, ice, and ski routes, along with a few rock-climbing paths. The hiking trails approach from all directions, while ice climbing mainly occurs in Huntington Ravine, with additional routes in Tuckerman Ravine and the Great Gulf.


The White Mountain National Forest requires a parking pass for many trailheads. A pass is necessary for parking in the National Forest, including the overflow lots at Pinkham Notch. However, the Pinkham Notch parking lot itself does not require a pass. Passes range from a $20 annual fee to a $3 daily fee.

Camping & Lodging

Established camping spots are available at the Hermit Lake Shelters, the AMC Lakes of the Clouds Hut (at 5,012 feet), and the Harvard Cabin.

The Lakes of the Clouds Hut, situated a mile southwest of Tuckerman Junction on the mountain, offers services from 1 June to 15 September. A small emergency "refuge room" provides shelter from harsh conditions in winter.

The Harvard Cabin, about 2.1 miles from Pinkham Notch in Huntington Ravine, operates only in winter (1 December to 31 March). It charges $15/night for indoor stays and $7.50/night for camping outside. The cabin accommodates approximately 16 people, offering a gas stove, wood stove, pots, and utensils, with a caretaker on-site for assistance and fee collection.

Overnight stays require registration in the logbook at the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, with availability on a first-come, first-served basis. Pets are not permitted for overnight stays.


Is Mount Washington suitable for beginner climbers?

While some trails are more accessible, Mount Washington is known for its unpredictable weather and challenging terrain. Beginners should prepare thoroughly and consider more accessible routes, like the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail.

Do I need a permit to climb Mount Washington?

No special climbing permit is required. However, a parking pass is necessary if you plan to park in White Mountain National Forest.

What is the best time of year to climb Mount Washington?

The most popular climbing season is during the summer, from late May to early October, when the weather is more stable, and the trails are generally clear of snow.

How long does it take to climb Mount Washington?

The time to summit can vary greatly depending on the chosen trail and weather conditions, but most hikers should plan for a full day, with round trips averaging 6 to 10 hours.

Are there any facilities on the summit of Mount Washington?

Yes, the summit hosts an observatory, museum, and snack shop, so bringing some money is a good idea.

What are the major trails to summit Mount Washington?

Popular trails include Tuckerman Ravine, Lion Head, Huntington Ravine, and the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail. There's also an auto road and a cog railway for those who prefer not to hike.

What are the safety considerations when climbing Mount Washington?

The mountain is known for its severe weather, so climbers should prepare for sudden changes in conditions. Carrying proper gear, checking weather forecasts, and having a solid plan is essential.

Can I drive to the summit of Mount Washington?

The Mount Washington Auto Road allows you to drive to the summit, but prepare for steep, narrow roads.