Trip report

Southern Presidentials Winter Traverse

Hiking/Walk DATE: 03/29/2014 - 03/29/2014

Trip/Event Location: Bretton Woods, NH

Trip Leader(s): Gandalf , JDNnh

Max # People: 15

Trip Guiding / Event Fee: No, I will not be asking participants for money

Difficulty Level: Strenuous

This winter hike traverses one of the most spectacular routes in the White Mountains that including climbing 3 four thousand footers: Monroe, Eishenhower and Pierce!
It starts on the
Driving directions to the location and spot to meet at:
We will meeting at the AMC Highland Center [Rte. 302] and then decide on which cars will be going to the Cog Railroad Base Station. We will be driving a blue Toyota FJ Cruiser. 
While carpooling is encouraged you are responsible for coordinating your own rides. Use the comments section below to communicate with others who may also be looking to share a ride. If you do share a ride be sure to share the expenses - suggested donations per person are $20 from Boston MA, $15 from Salem NH, and $10 from Concord NH. You can meet other members for carpooling at NH Exit 2 Salem Park & Ride off I-93 or NH Exit 14 LL Bean/Shaw's Parking Lot off I-93. 

Trip Report/Photos
Featured Photo

A pretty nice way to end the winter hiking season, even though it officially ended a couple weeks ago. We all met at 8:30am in the parking lot near the Highland Center. Steve left his car and we carpooled to Marshfield Station for the start of our hike. The rolling access road had sections of thick ice so we had to drive carefully. This drive over was the most dangerous part of the entire hike!

The day was cloudy but warm and nicely calm. We all started the day with MicroSpikes right from the parking area and they stayed on for the next 8 hours. That’s right; we were able to make it up the Ammonoosuc Ravine without crampons. There were spots on the Crawford Path where we could have used snowshoes.

The early part of the hike to Gem Pool is level and easy.  The trail is generally clear sailing. There’s enough elevation to help with a good warm-up but that’s about it. Jon and I did some layer adjusting in this section as we came up to temperature. At Gem Pool it was surreal with clouds and fog drifting through the trees. From Gem Pool to the Lakes of Clouds Hut the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail gets serious. It’s only one mile but includes 1550 feet in elevation gain. Steep! We stayed with the MicroSpikes. The trail was packed but soft. Generally the surface was solid enough to hold but there were occasions when we all slipped back while attempting to move higher. As we got further up, the skies got brighter and later on we saw a sunny orb above us.

At the first crossing we stopped for a quick break. With that out of the way we continued the climb. Soon we hit the treeline and were enjoying fantastic views to Washington. Below the Presidentials we could see a great deal of undercast! We started to feel some wind.

We checked out the dungeon (emergency shelter) at Lakes of the Clouds [LOC] Hut. We left the dungeon and headed to the front of the Hut where the snow had collected so we were able to walk right up onto its roof! We decided to break for lunch since we were getting hungry so we went behind the Hut for wind block. We were enjoying full sun. Nice, but standing still we started to get cold so we packed it up and began heading for Mt Monroe.

The climb to Monroe was a little tougher than usual. The wind was fierce and gusty! We were all adequately layered up. Monroe was definitely an interesting first summit for the day. Reaching the small ridge that leads back to the actual summit area we were near the east edge of it with a pretty good drop-off to the east. The wind was gusting to 30 mph and with wind chill, it must have been around 15 degrees. We hit the blustery summit, got the usual pictures, and headed south for Eisenhower.

We left Monroe on the usual route that passes over Little Monroe and connects with the Crawford Path. The Crawford Path passes around the east side of Monroe/Little Monroe and we could see a trace of the trail down below.

As we hiked south we enjoyed views in all directions! Eventually we made it to the area where the Crawford Path, Edmands Path, and the Eisenhower Loop all generally meet. The trail since leaving the LOC Hut was for the most part clear of any deep snow. We started into the climb and after some good cardio came to the Eisenhower summit cairn, got our pictures, and headed south.

Leaving Eisenhower we followed the large cairns. In a very short time we were at the south junction of the Eisenhower Loop and the Crawford Path. That was easy!

We continued south. The trail was well packed with all the previous foot traffic.  Eventually we made it to the Webster Cliff Trail junction, made the turn, and headed for the summit of Pierce.

We headed back to the Crawford Path and our exit. The hike out was an easy cruise down the huge ramp of the Crawford Path. It was an easy walk out. In what seemed like a very short time we reached the Mizpah Cutoff and not long after we hit the trailhead and the Crawford Connector parking lot.  

We were all tired as we had a full day hiking over Mt Monroe, Eisenhower and Pierce. What a day!  While the hike began with clouds after some serious ascent the sun broke out and we were treated to our favorite phenomenon of an undercast below us.  

The three of us got back home to take a shower and finally relax by the fireplace with a glass of wine.  Shortly later dinner was ready where we gobbled down freshly roasted turkey with mashed potatoes, stuffing, asparagus, cubed sweet potato and just out of the oven puff pastry crescent rolls.   Dessert was a homemade pumpkin tart with a ginger cookie crust topped with a hit of cream.  We retired upstairs to relive the hike with over 100 slides to watch.

This southern presi-traverse was a memorable “winter” season ender.  Here’s looking forward to future hikes in shorts and a t-shirt!


What Members Are Saying About This Trip/Event

  • Views galore in every direction seared into my brain - this hike rocked! I'm addicted in a good way. - JDNnh
  • Thanks, Mike and Jon, for hosting a truly amazing early spring day above the clouds. It turned out to be simply spectacular on the Presidential Range and it was awesome catching up with you guys. You outdid yourselves on the post-hike dinner as well. - shep5

Members That Participated


Outdoor Fitness Level: Very Strenuous

Thornton, NH

United States

Outdoor Fitness Level: Very Strenuous

Thornton, NH

United States

Outdoor Fitness Level: Very Strenuous

Jaffrey, NH

United States
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