Member Trip report

Mt. Washington and Monroe


Trip Report/Photos from JDNnh

Featured Photo

2 hours to the Lakes of the Cloud Hut, elevation 5,030 feet

3.4 miles to Mt. Monroe summit, elevation 5,372 feet
4.5 miles to Mt. Washington summit (including Mt. Monroe side hike), elevation 6,288 feet

Difficulty: An 8 hour steady paced hike -- Pack the Aleve and bring a camera

The Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, accessing the summits of Mt. Monroe and Mt. Washington, is equal parts majestic beauty and watch-your-step treacherous, sheltered tranquility and boot-to-boot hiker highway, destination hike and the fastest route between Point A (ground floor) and Point B (the AMC’s Lakes of the Clouds Hut).  For a nine-mile loop of New England’s tallest mountain, this is a can’t-miss New Hampshire hike.

The trail begins at the Cog Railway Base Station with a leisurely stroll through dense forest.  The Trail follows the Ammonoosuc River for a stretch over rocky terrain where any elevation gain is gradual at best -- it’s a nice warm-up for what awaits.

Ahhhh, The Gem Pool cascades.

Eventually the trail reaches Gem Pool, a great spot for a snack break to take in the scenic waterfall and fuel up for the pending climb. Once across the Gem Pool’s outlet brook, the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail’s initial nature walk is over and the real butt-kicking stairway to heaven hiking begins with steep rock steps that give way to full-on rock scrambles. There’s also several awe inspiring viewpoints as the trail overlooks the cascades and ultimately crosses the primary brook at a flat spot.

The rock scrambles are more frequent in the upper portion of the trail, which can be tricky when wet. The viewpoints are also on the rise as the shrinking trees thin out, delivering grand vistas of Mt. Washington. At the three-mile mark the trail emerges above treeline a short distance from the Lakes of the Clouds Hut and the Crawford Path junction. To summit Mt. Monroe, it’s a relatively easy, 0.3-mile side hike with only one spot where the footing gets tricky on a ledge. This diversion does require backtracking to return to the hut, but the views from the Mt. Monroe summit are 100 percent worth the effort.

Today we were rewarded with an undercast – a solid deck of white puffy clouds that stretched for a hundred miles to the west and north with distant peaks poking out like islands.  What a rare treat – it’s always a breathtaking sight to behold – sort of like looking out of a plane window at 30,000 feet,

From the Lakes of the Clouds Hut, it’s a 1.4 mile hike on the Crawford Path (also the Appalachian Trail) to the summit of Mt. Washington that’s tougher than it looks. The cone is one giant, seemingly-never-ending, rock pile, and the entire climb is out in the open and exposed to the elements. Whether you believe it or not, the Mount Washington Observatory doesn’t boast recording the world’s worst weather for nothing, so come ready for anything. It’s also best to mentally prepare for the Disneyland crowds sure to be found on the summit, especially on weekends. And don’t worry when you see the train, you’re not hallucinating or hypoxic from the altitude.

Luckily for us the weather was splendid – very little wind, plentiful sun, wispy clouds and warm summer t-shirt temperatures.  A rare day of perfect meteorological statistics.  With many past attempts stymied by 80 mph winds, skin stinging hail and 10 foot visibility this was a delight!!

At noon we summited Mt Washington.  On such a nice day the summit was packed.  We went inside the observatory building and  took refuge in the “hiker break room” for lunch, rest and to layer up for another dash outside to soak in the views from 6288 feet.  After a few pictures and view gazing, we began the descent off the summit.  Within minutes it was quiet and tranquil once more. 

The walk by The Great Gulf was gorgeous as usual with parting clouds, views to Spaulding Lake and what looked like a hundred shades of green.  We were having Ireland flashbacks so we looked around for leprecauns – but could not find any behind the rocks.

The descent became more knee rattling and rapid - by 4 pm we were back at our car.  Hooray – we could take our hiking boots off and go get a coffee for the ride home.  Once home we showered, cracked open a cold one or two and ate a hearty dinner to cap off the day.

Adventure awaits to those that seek it out – put this hike on your to do list – when the forecast looks great, get up early and head to The Whites for an epic time recharging body, mind and spirit!


Hiking, backpacking, camping or vacation adventures, GayOutdoors [GO] has been the LGBTQ outdoorzy community leader for the last 22 years. We are an informal group of diverse hiking enthusiasts in the United States with a shared love of the mountains who prefer hiking with friends. We invite you to join us on our hikes, to post hikes for other members to join you and to share your hiking photos, stories and advice.

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If you find it invigorating to hike along a mountain trail with friends not knowing what’s just around the corner, to get some fresh air, to stop and soak in the views on a summit, and to soak your feet in a mountain brook after a hike, give us a try!


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