Trip report

Mt. Willard Jingle Bells Hike/Mt. Washington Hotel Tour

Hiking/Walk DATE: 12/08/2018 - 12/08/2018

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: Easy to Moderate

Join us on our annual holiday hike where we wear jingle bells and holiday hats; followed by a drink at the Mt. Washington Hotel and a historical tour of the hotel!

Mt. Willard [2865 ft.] is a

Driving directions to the location and spot to meet at:

In Twin Mountain at the junction of US 3 and US 302, take US 302 east and drive 8.5 miles [pass the Hotel] to the AMC Highland Center parking lot. If you are coming from North Conway, it's 21 miles from the junction of US 302 and NH 16 in Glen. We are driving blue Toyota Tacoma Truck. 

Trip Report/Photos
Featured Photo

The sky was a perfect blue and the mountains covered with snow as we drove to the Mt. Willard trailhead at Crawford Notch. The temperature was nine degrees! BRRRR. Bretton Woods ski area was taking full advantage with its snow guns in full force. We drove past the Mount Washington Hotel standing in all its glory with the sweeping snowcapped Presidential Range behind it. We would be visiting it after the hike.

We met at the AMC Highland Center. As members arrived, I distributed Santa hats, antlers, jingle bells and an Elf hat for them to wear. We welcome Terry and Lev to their first GO hike. It was also their first ever winter hike along with John [mecyclingrunner]. After we donned our gay apparel and sang a few Fa la la’s, we were off! Our holiday outfits brought lots of smiles to the hikers we met throughout the day. We easily encountered over 25+ people on a very cold winter's day!

The start of Mt. Willard trailhead is behind the Crawford Train Depot station after crossing the train tracks. Mt. Willard [2865 ft.] hike is 3.2 miles round trip with 900' elevation gain. Most of our crew for today had never been to the summit. They were in for a treat!

The trail was packed down so all we needed was MicroSpikes for the hike. With the sunny skies and the workout hiking up the mountain, we did not feel the 9 degree temperatures during the day! We took a break at Centennial Pool and checked out the beautiful frozen cascades.

As we hiked higher we encountered more snow. It was a phenomenal day with beautiful blue skies, the higher mountains looking like frosting on a cake and heavy snow covering the conifers! Magical. We became excited once we saw the opening at the end of the trail.

We found ourselves on a balcony at the top of a cliff overlooking a magnificent view of Crawford Notch. Breathtaking! We posed for a number of pictures.  As we sat down for lunch a Gray Jay visited us with many us of feeding it from our hands. It’s awesome to raise your hand up and have a bird fly to it.

After a half hour break we made our descent. We found ourselves hiking into the wind making the return much colder than the ascent. We were back in the parking lot within 45 minutes! Funny how the cold forces you to walk faster.  

Everyone followed us back to the Mt. Washington hotel for a drink at the Rosebrook Bar followed by a tour of the hotel. As we approached the hotel, there was a magnificent backdrop of the entire Presidential Range covered in snow. The exterior was decorated for the holidays. We walked inside the massive lobby that felt like a huge hallway. It was full of people, most of which were probably visitors and not guests, sitting on couches and chairs relaxing, chatting and enjoying a drink. There was seating beside a fireplace, in the conservatory and throughout the lobby hotel. We were supposed to meet Fred at…hmmm…where could he be….hmmmm…surprise, surprise….he was already at the bar!!! Actually the bar was full and we found him at the entrance. He had been roaming the hotel for 30 minutes waiting for us. It was great to see Fred after almost two years!   

As we walked in, we were lucky to have a group leave a table beside a window so we quickly grabbed it. The view from our table of the Presidential Range was spectacular! Five of us sat at the table and a few minutes later a large group left so we were able to secure that table for the remainder of our group. The drinks were expensive but it was totally worth it for the views!

After we finished our drinks, a few of us walked around the hotel as we waited for the start of the tour. The interior of the hotel was fully decorated for the holidays. Gorgeous. Most members had never been inside the hotel. We visited the room where delegates from 44 countries met after World War II to sign the agreement to start the World Bank. The agreement also included moving away from benchmarking currencies to gold and using the US dollar.  We also visited The Cave that was a Speakeasy during prohibition.

At 3PM we met at the Grandfather Clock for the official tour of the hotel. Our guide, Anna was delightful and very knowledgeable. Jon and I have taken this tour before and Anna was so much better than our previous visit. She spoke about the building of the hotel back in 1902, the vision of the owner Joseph Stickey and how his wife Caroline managed the hotel after her husband died a year after the hotel was built. The tour included visiting the main dining room, an adjoining dining room, and the ballroom where it was fully decorated for a wedding dinner reception. After the tour ended, she told us about unofficial stories such as room 341, where it is haunted by Caroline’s ghost, a room Caroline frequently used.  

After the tour, we walked outside to gaze at a magnificent pastel alpine glow covering the entire Presidential Range! Wow! What a terrific way to end our day!!!

But wait! There’s more! Many members decided to return back to our house for drinks and appetizers beside the fireplace followed by delicious dinner cooked up by Jon! Jon cooked up a tasty pork loin, roasted vegetables/potato and yellow rice. This was accompanied by a fresh salad. Yummy! Later in the evening, we enjoyed a Crème Brule. What a treat!

Our holiday spirit kept us warm on a frigid day. Awesome company and a perfect ending at the Mt. Washington Hotel made for a memorable day!!!

Trip Report: Mike Boisvert
Photos: Jon Normand

What Members Are Saying About This Trip/Event

  • Great report and photos. I can see how much I missed by not going on the hike. I'll have to get the essentials for winter hiking. Great company and my thanks to Mike and Jon for their hospitality and Jon for the best pork I've ever eaten. See you in Boston next month. - sedonahikerman
  • Mike & Jon: Thanks for organizing this fun holiday trip. It was great to see inside the Mt. Washington Hotel for the first time! See you in a few weeks... - Bobcat

Members That Participated


Outdoor Fitness Level: Very Strenuous

Thornton, NH

United States

Outdoor Fitness Level: Very Strenuous

Thornton, NH

United States

Outdoor Fitness Level: Moderate to Strenuous

Raynham, MA

United States
sustaining member

Outdoor Fitness Level: Moderate

Beverly, MA

United States

Outdoor Fitness Level: Moderate

Tuftonboro, NH

United States

Outdoor Fitness Level: Strenuous

Upton, MA

United States

Outdoor Fitness Level: Moderate to Strenuous

Upton, MA

United States

Outdoor Fitness Level: Moderate to Strenuous

Plainville, MA

United States

Outdoor Fitness Level: Moderate

St. Johnsbury, VT

United States

Outdoor Fitness Level: Moderate to Strenuous


United States
guest member

Outdoor Fitness Level: Easy to Moderate

Barnet, VT

United States
sedonahikerman Dec 11, 2018 at 12:49 PM

Comment: Great report and photos. I can see how much I missed by not going on the hike. I'll have to get the essentials for winter hiking. Great company and my thanks to Mike and Jon for their hospitality and Jon for the best pork I've ever eaten. See you in Boston next month.

Bobcat Dec 10, 2018 at 7:08 AM

Comment: Mike & Jon: Thanks for organizing this fun holiday trip. It was great to see inside the Mt. Washington Hotel for the first time! See you in a few weeks...

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