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3 Pinkham Notch Hikes You’ll Want to Do

With a base at Joe Dodge Lodge in the White Mountains, you’re well positioned to spend several days hiking, especially in the summer when the trails are clear all the way through to Mount Washington and other nearby presidential peaks. The other option is to head out on a multi-day backpacking trip to the high huts along the Appalachian Trail in the White Mountains.

In just one day I got a taste of the Pinkham Notch area on the following three hikes.

The Tuckerman Ravine hike

I visited New Hampshire in early June so although the summit of Mt Washington was only 4.1 miles away, I was stopped at the Tuckerman Ravine Shelter because of snow. I would love to make it to the summit on foot, rather than in a car,  (though that’s still a very interesting drive) but that will have to wait until 2018 when I plan to do a hut to hut hike. (See below.) Hiking the rocky Tuckerman Ravine Trail to the shelter is still a worthwhile outing. It’s a pretty trail especially when it’s dressed in spring green and the one beautiful waterfall along the route is a worthy goal in itself.

I found it interesting to see one of the shelters you’d find along the Appalachian Trail. It made me pause and really think how difficult the hike done in its entirety would be – something I’ve contemplated on many occasions.

3 Pinkham Notch Hikes You'll Want to Do

The summit of Mt. Washington seems so close

3 Pinkham Notch Hikes You'll Want to Do

There are plenty of warnings before you head out on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail

3 Pinkham Notch Hikes You'll Want to Do

In short order pass a lovely waterfall

3 Pinkham Notch Hikes You'll Want to Do

In June you’re into a world of fresh green

3 Pinkham Notch Hikes You'll Want to Do

Trails like this get your attention

3 Pinkham Notch Hikes You'll Want to Do

Despite the rainy weather, it’s a popular trail

3 Pinkham Notch Hikes You'll Want to Do

One of the shelters along the Appalachian Trail

3 Pinkham Notch Hikes You'll Want to Do

A couple of young bucks off for a late skiing adventure

Square Ledge Hike

The Square Ledge hike delivers a great view for a minimal amount of effort. It’s only 0.8 miles one way with just 154 feet of elevation gain. The crux of the hike is crossing the muddy logs at the start of the trail across from the Pinkham Notch Visitor Centre.

I’d call it an easy hike but others who don’t climb rocky trails might disagree. At the top there is an easy scramble to get onto a wide ledge – and it is here you get the stellar views of Mt. Washington, should it be a clear day.

It’s easy to combine this hike with the Lost Pond hike pictured below.

3 Pinkham Notch Hikes You'll Want to Do

The muddy first part of the Square Ledge and Lost Pond hike

3 Pinkham Notch Hikes You'll Want to Do

It’s a short trail with some interesting aspects to it

3 Pinkham Notch Hikes You'll Want to Do

The views from the top of the rock over to Joe Dodge Lodge

The Square Ledge hike out of Pinkham Notch

Loving the view of the White Mountains

Lost Pond Trail

The Lost Pond Trail shares the same trailhead as the Square Ledge hike. It’s actually a short section of the Appalachian Trail that is primarily forested. All told its 1.7 miles out and back with 354 feet of elevation gain. Parts of the trail in early June were quite muddy but I’m sure come mid-summer, its long gone.

The prize is beautiful Lost Pond. To get a good view down the pond, you may get your feet wet as much of the area around the lake is marshy. Sit quietly when you get there and listen to the birdsong. It’s in a very peaceful setting.

3 Pinkam Notch hikes you'll want to do

On the way up to Lost Pond

The Lost Pond hike can be done out of Pinkham Notch

Lost Pond is a pretty destination

Fading light on the Lost Pond hike in the White Mountains

Fading light on the Lost Pond hike

The Lost Pond hike is part of the Appalachian Trail

The Lost Pond hike is part of the Appalachian Trail

An Option that’s on My Radar – A Hut-to-Hut Hike above Treeline in the White Mountains

Beginning on September 1, you can book huts along the Appalachian Trail. They provide access to the longest continuous ridge walk on the Appalachian Trail – and better yet are fully catered for much of the time that they are open. Three of the eight huts are either at or above treeline so you can imagine how spectacular the views are. You can expect bunkroom style accommodation (and rooms hold 6 – 8 people) along with hearty meals and camaraderie. If you book the huts you only have to carry lunches and snacks along with the usual 10 essentials. Some of the huts are more challenging than others to get to so you do need to factor in your hiking ability when you book. I’m planning a trip for the fall of 2018 when the colours are at their peak.

For more information on all the huts visit the White Mountains of New Hampshire. And book early.

Lake of the Clouds Hut on the Appalachian Trail - Photo credit: Dennis Welsh

Lake of the Clouds Hut – Photo credit: Dennis Welsh

Greenleaf Hut on the Appalachian Trail- Photo credit: Herb Swanson

Greenleaf Hut – Photo credit: Herb Swanson

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3 Pinkham Notch Hikes in New Hampshire's White Mountains You'll Want to Do

Thank you to Visit New Hampshire for hosting my visit. All opinions as always are mine alone.

Leigh McAdam

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
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Author Leigh

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure – & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project – a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

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Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Cumulus says:

    Another nice hike in the Pinkham Notch area which doesn’t involve climbing to the top of one of the major ridges is Glen Boulder.

    On the other hand, if you do want a challenging hike from Pinkham but don’t want to climb the Presidentials, then following the AT past Lost Pond and up to Wildcat E takes you up the steepest half mile on the entire Appalachian Trail.

  • Suzanne says:

    Leigh, I just finished a hut to hut hike. I left my RV at Pinkham Notch VC, took the hiker shuttle to the Highland Center, where I started my hike. First night was spent in the Mitzpah Springs Hut, second night in Lakes of the Clouds. The third day, I summited Mt. Washington in the morning, then started the long hike back to Pinkham Notch.

    I opted for the longer Boott Spur trail down, rather than the headwall of Tuckerman Ravine. Just letting you know that I don’t recommend this route, unless you have extremely good weather and a full day to do the hike. It took ALL DAY of descending unrelenting rocks, some of them so big I had to do them on my rear. My analogy of Boott Spur is that of pulling the bandaid off, one hair at a time. Better to get it over with on the quicker, steeper descent on Tuckerman Ravine, in my hindsight opinion.

    I look forward to reading about your 2018 Hut to Hut.
    Suzanne

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