This Sunday, April 22nd, we set out to hike our first two of the 46 Adirondack High Peaks. Steve and I hiked the 48 New Hampshire 4,000 footers over the past few years when we lived in Boston, so now that we are in upstate New York, this seemed like the perfect list to tackle next.
Since this has been a long winter, we were hesitant to start climbing mountains this early in the season. However, I’ve been feeling restless from many months without the great outdoors, so we went for it. I had been reading trail reports and facebook posts to try and figure out what the trails would be like. Some people said snowshoes were needed. Some people said not to hike without crampons and an ice axe. I was a bit nervous. However, microspikes and trekking poles turned out to be enough for a solid hike up the mountains. The trail was icy on the way up and slushy on the way down.
I will share some of the details and statistics from our hike. Some of the information is based on the AllTrails app data and may not be perfectly accurate.
Time started: 9:45am
Time Ended: 1:45pm
Total Time: 4 hours
Total Distance: 5.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,297 feet
We started at the Cascade Mountain Trailhead on route 73 between Lake Placid and Keene. There were a few small parking lots right along the main road. I assume this probably gets quite full during the summer months!
We took the Cascade Mountain Trail and then at the junction we took the Porter Mountain Trail to hit the summit of Porter first. This ascent took 2 hours. The summit of Porter had some lovely views of mountains in one direction and beautiful snow covered trees in the other direction. There was only one other couple up there and we took our time enjoying the quiet and the beauty around us. We then hiked down to the junction and then up to the summit of Cascade. This took another 45 minutes including taking photos and having snacks at the top of Porter. We spent some time alone on top of Cascade enjoying the incredible 360 degree mountain views.
After 15 or so minutes at the top, we made our way down. The descent to the car from Porter took less than an hour. We passed a lot of inexperienced and unprepared hikers on the trail. Make sure to do your research when hiking in early spring! Microspikes and poles were needed for a safe day on the mountain.
This was a beautiful hike and a great introduction to the Adirondack High Peaks. Even though the ice was a bit slippery and slowed us down a bit, the scenery was incredible. We also didn’t face any crowds or bugs, which was a plus! I can’t wait to hike more high peaks! 2 down, 44 to go!
Steve and I have been lucky enough to visit Oregon several times and explore some of the beautiful hiking trails and viewpoints throughout the state. Oregon has some of the most beautiful waterfalls, gorgeous beach scenery, desert adventures, and wonderful mountain views in this country. There are so many things I could write about, but I narrowed it down to 13 of my favorite things we’ve seen and done in Oregon.
1. Abiqua Falls – It was a very rough road to get to the parking lot of this waterfall. We drove a high clearance, 4WD truck and it still felt like the car might be destroyed. It was a short hike on a rugged, steep, and slippery trail. When we arrived, the waterfall was absolutely breathtaking as the late afternoon sun rays poured through the trees to light up a magical scene.
2. WahclellaFalls – This is an amazing waterfall located in the Columbia River Gorge. It is a relatively easy 2.4 mile round trip hike in a beautiful, lush forest. The waterfall itself is powerful and covers you in refreshing mist if you get too close!
3. Trillium Lake and Lost Lake – These are two great spots to view Mount Hood. We camped at both of these lakes during our van trip and really enjoyed the stunning views. Lost Lake was very crowded on a summer weekend. If you go for a day trip, make sure to arrive early to claim one of the lakefront day use spots. Trillium Lake was a bit more rustic and much more calm and peaceful.
Here is a photo of the Milky Way over Lost Lake taken by my talented husband Steve Walasavage.
4. Punch Bowl Falls – The 3.8 mile round trip hike to this waterfall is a stunning walk through an incredibly beautiful northwestern forest. When we went, it was drizzling and the hills were draped in thick fog. There is an awesome view of the falls from above and then another after you climb down to the bottom. I really loved this hike!
Punch Bowl Falls from above
Punch Bowl Falls from the bottom
5. Samuel H. Boardman State Park – This is a beautiful stretch of the rugged Oregon coast with stunning views and precarious hikes. I wrote more about Samuel H Boardman State Park in this blog post!
6. Toketee Falls – This was a very quick 0.8 mile round trip hike. It leads to a viewing platform with an amazing view of the falls. The waterfall is stunning and the basalt columns give it a really unique look!
7. Tamolitch Blue Pool – We woke up early to make the 2.1 mile hike to the Blue Pool (4.2 miles round trip). The hike was easy and beautiful, weaving through lovely forest scenes and crossing perfect rivers. When we arrived, the view of this dazzling blue pool completely blew me away! There were only a handful of people there when we arrived and we scrambled down the steep slope to the edge of the pool. After some trepidation, we dove in. It was some of the coldest water I’ve ever felt! But the rush of being in such a beautiful place and the refreshing jolt of jumping in made this an unforgettable experience. On our hike back to the car, hundreds of hikers were coming in and the parking lot was completely full. Be sure to get up early to do this hike. It’s worth it!
8. Multnomah Falls – This is one of the most accessible and beautiful waterfalls I’ve ever been to. It can be crowded with tourists and gets very busy, but the scenery is breathtaking and it is definitely worth a visit if you are ever in the Columbia River Gorge! (Photo by Steve Walasavage)
9. The Painted Hills – Most of the time we’ve spent in Oregon was at the coast, in the woods, or exploring waterfalls. However, there are some really beautiful desert areas. A few years ago we drove out to the Painted Hills in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. The unique sand hills and rainbow of colors were really incredible! Watch out for rattlesnakes if you visit this spot.
10. Tamanawas Falls – This was a very pretty waterfall on a relatively easy trail (3.6 miles round trip). We didn’t have much time to spend at this waterfall, but enjoyed the hike and the lovely view of the falls!
11. Rowena Crest – This is a beautiful lookout over an incredible winding road. It’s straight out of a car commercial (in fact they were filming a car commercial the day we were there!) We also went in April when the wild flowers were unbelievable.
12. Susan Creek Falls – Unfortunately this waterfall was swarming with mosquitoes when we visited this spring. However, it was still a gorgeous hike and I would love to back in a different season!
13. Crater Lake – This is one of the first national parks I ever visited! The lake was formed by a volcano that collapsed around 7,700 years ago. It is also the deepest lake in the United States at 1,949 feet deep! We only spent one afternoon there, but I’d love to go back to explore and do some hiking!
What are your favorite spots in Oregon? Have you been to any of the locations listed in this blog? Do you have recommendations of places to visit in Oregon that aren’t in this post? Let me know in the comments or on Instagram (@carrieoutdoors).
We spent five wonderful days exploring the incredible Yosemite National Park. We could have spent months there and still found new and beautiful spots! We hiked, camped, and wandered around Yosemite trying to soak in the beauty of the majestic waterfalls and glacier-carved granite landscape. I’ll briefly outline some of the highlights of what we did and saw on our Yosemite adventures.
Before I do, here are a couple quick pointers about traveling to Yosemite.
It is an incredibly busy and popular park. Especially in the summer and near holidays. If you can, try to visit the park off season, but be aware that some of the roads may be closed in the winter months.
Booking campsite reservations for Yosemite is really challenging. There is one day and time when every campsite in the park goes on sale for the entire year. We were ready to book at the exact time, and we tried to book 5 consecutive nights of camping. After we requested the reservation, it took a while for the web page to load and when it finally loaded, it said there were no sites available for five nights in a row. We kept trying to reserve sites for about an hour, and ended up with a hodgepodge of random nights at different campsites in the valley. Luckily for us, we had friends who worked in the park whom we could stay with on the nights we couldn’t get a site. I don’t know what we would have done otherwise!
Wake up early if you want to get parking spots or find peace and quiet on any of the trails. By the afternoon in the summer, the park was swamped with people and all parking lots were completely full.
Yosemite Falls Hike
Our first hike in the park was the hardest one for me. We hiked up to the top of Yosemite Falls. This was a 7.2 mile round trip hike with 2,700 feet of elevation gain. I was a bit out of shape for this hike and had to stop a few times to catch my breath. However, the scenery was breathtaking so I didn’t mind stopping occasionally to look around! There are amazing vistas that look out into the valley with iconic Half Dome in clear view. There are also several epic views of Yosemite Falls. Once you reach the summit, you are literally at the top of the falls. There is a misty lookout point where you can stare straight down as the waterfall plummets over the edge. It was honestly a little bit scary but so beautiful. There was even a rainbow!
If you have the chance to go on a hike with a local Yosemite resident or park employee, I highly recommend it. There are several secret hikes that only the locals know about. Our friends took us one one such hike and it was a highlight of our visit. We escaped the crowds and throngs of tourists as we hopped off the main, paved path and began scrambling up an old trail into the wilderness. The hike was steep and challenging but the views at the top were out of this world! We could see most of the waterfalls in the park along with mind-blowing beauty in every direction. There was a small viewing platform and large, flat rocks to sit on. We hung out up there for hours enjoying snacks and taking photos. We saw only one other small group of hikers in the hours we spend up there.
The Mist Trail
The Mist Trail is a beautiful hike up to Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls. The path is steep but paved, and people of all ages were hiking alongside us. The trail was more crowded than what I typically prefer, but the amazing views made the hike well worth it. The Mist Trail has a very accurate name. Once you get near the falls, you will be soaked with mist and spray from the waterfalls. It felt amazing on a hot day, but made taking photos a bit of a challenge. I recommend bringing a dry bag and wearing clothes and shoes that you don’t mind getting wet. I loved this hike. It was fun and pretty easy. The sight of huge, powerful waterfalls and rainbows was breathtaking.
Glacier Point had some of my favorite views in the park. You can hike up or drive up. We chose to drive because we wanted to stay into the night. We drove up in the late afternoon and claimed a coveted parking spot. The parking lot can fill up on popular summer days and you may be required to take a shuttle up. We wandered around, checking out all of the awesome views. We made ourselves dinner and then set up our cameras for sunset. Photos from Glacier Point might make you think it is a quiet, secluded spot. However, we watched the sunset with hundreds of other people. Despite the crowds, watching Half Dome in a golden glow as the sunlight slowly faded over the valley was one of those unforgettable moments of my life. Eventually the sky turned pink and gave a magical feel to the whole scene. There was a park ranger giving an informational talk during sunset. At first I thought it would be annoying, but I really enjoyed learning about the history of the park.
After the sun went down, the stars came out. Millions and millions of stars. The skies in Yosemite are so dark that the Milky Way was clearly visible with just my eyes. It was absolutely stunning. Aside from a few rowdy tourists, stargazing at Glacier Points was one of the more peaceful moments of my life. We parked our car in the lot and spent the night stargazing, taking night photos, and napping. My favorite part of the evening was that on this particular night, there was an event where people brought their telescopes and let us look through them! I able to experience some amazing views of the cosmos. I was even able to see Saturn, with its rings clearly visible! It was a night I will never forget.
The night photos below were taken at Glacier Point by my talented husband, Steve Walasavage (click for his website and his instagram)
Lower Yosemite Fall Hike
This was a flat, paved 1-mile loop hike. Due to the easiness of this trail, it was swamped with people. However, there were some beautiful views of the waterfall. I loved the scene shown below with the falls framed by towering trees!
Aside from all of the beautiful hikes, there are plenty of incredible scenery that can be viewed from the valley floor. Pretty much anywhere you park or walk in Yosemite will provide unbelievable views if you look around you.
There are so many other parts of the park I would have loved to explore if we had more time. Have you ever been to Yosemite? If yes, what were your favorite parts? If no, have you ever thought about going? Let me know in the comments! And as always you can find more photos or send me a DM on Instagram (@carrieoutdoors)!
After spending months planning our cross country van travels, I had a lot of different expectations for the the many spots we would visit. For some places I was brimming with excitement and prepared with plans for photos I couldn’t wait to take. Other places were added to the map as an afterthought or I was worried might be too crowded. In many cases my expectations were spot on. However, a few times I was completely surprised!
There were times the reality greatly exceeded our expectations and and we discovered some amazing beauty and serenity in places we never imagined. Occasionally, however, the reality didn’t live up to the hype and the experience was a a bit of a let down. I wanted to share a few examples of each of these. Have you ever been pleasantly surprised on a trip? Have you been disappointed by a place you were excited about? Let me know in the comments!
Kind of a Let Down…
Mesa Arch – To be fair, I didn’t do a ton of research on this spot before we went, and if I had I might have been more prepared for the reality. I had seen amazing sunrise photos of this arch which made it look like a huge natural structure hidden deep in the remote desert. The photos of this arch were just so incredible that I had created a narrative in my head for what the experience would be like. In reality, the arch is only a 5 minute walk from the road and therefore was swarming with people. When we got to the parking lot, multiple tour buses were unloading with dozens of tourists. It is also known as a sunrise spot, so when we arrived at the arch in the early morning hours, there was already a line of photographers in front of it, blocking the view for any latecomers. Luckily we were able to elbow our way in and found some room to snap a few photos. I will say that the sunrise through Mesa Arch was an incredible sight. The rays of sunlight caused the arch to glow in a brilliant shade of orange, with amazing shadows cast on the desert scene behind it. However the whole thing just felt a little phony . It was crowded, loud, and felt more like a photo shoot than an authentic natural experience.
Diamond Fork (Fifth Water) Hot Springs – Okay, so don’t get me wrong, these hot springs were pretty great. But they didn’t quite live up to my expectations. The first time we tried to go was on a Thursday evening. When we arrived, the parking lot was almost completely full and there were loud, drunk young people everywhere. They were laughing, yelling, and blasting their music. I know, I sound so old right now! But we were looking for a quiet, peaceful soak…not a wild party! So we decided to skip the springs that day and try again on a Sunday. The second try was better, but the hot springs were still pretty crowded. Also, the photos I had seen showed a low flowing river of bright blue water and I was so excited to see and photograph it. However, when we were there, the river was raging with water that was brownish gray and not blue. I guess we were there at the wrong time of year! The springs were still lovely and hot, but the experience was pretty underwhelming.
Better than Expected
Monument Valley – I knew that Monument Valley would be a nice place to visit and I had seen a lot of great photos of the place. However, the experience of being there was much more special than I had imagined. It’s hard to describe, but the valley had a peaceful and serene feeling to it and I just genuinely enjoyed being there, despite the fact that we didn’t even do much. I loved that the scene was the same and yet completely different as the sun moved across the sky and altered the lighting on the monuments. I also think we were there at the right time of year because there was hardly anyone else camping there and the whole place was relatively quiet, considering it is such a popular spot. We also happened to be there when the mitten shadow is on the other mitten, which apparently is a rare occurrence, and wasn’t something we planned for! (Click here to read more about this part of the trip!)
View from our Cabela’s tent
Alabama Hills – this is a spot that is photographed by a million instagrammers so I had assumed it would feel like a phony photo shoot spot swarming with young kids with their iPhones and cameras. What we found was an incredibly beautiful landscape with almost no people and tons of empty free campsites. The famous photo spot with the road leading down into the snow capped Sierras was empty at sunrise! I sipped coffee and hung out there all morning without seeing a single soul. This was one of the most beautiful scenes and peaceful moments of our cross country adventures and greatly exceeded my expectations. (My blog post about the Alabama Hills can be found here!)
Before heading into Yosemite National Park, we stopped for a day at Point Reyes National Seashore near San Francisco, CA. I had seen photos from this area and was looking forward to checking it out but Point Reyes ended up being so much more incredible than I had imagined or expected. The drive in was long and slow, but the views were magnificent! Below I will highlight some of the wonderful things we saw at Point Reyes!
S.S. Point Reyes Shipwreck
We almost drove right by this spot, but on your right hand side as you drive toward the Point Reyes Lighthouse, you will find the shipwreck near the town of Inverness, California. I did a little research for the history of this ship, but it sounds like it was just a boat owned by a local who never got around to fixing it up. Not a very glamorous story! However, the ship was really neat to photograph and it was a very peaceful spot.
Cypress Tree Tunnel
Our next stop was the Cypress Tree Tunnel – a short road leading to a white building, which I later found out was home to the KPH radio station. The road is lined with beautiful and giant cypress trees that form a canopy above. This is another popular spot for photographers that I had seen on Instagram and wanted to check out! We stopped here for a few minutes and walked up and down the road. There was not much else to do in this spot, but it was still pretty neat!
Point Reyes Lighthouse
We continued down the long and winding road to the lighthouse. We passed by many cows and some small ranches until we got to the lighthouse parking lot. There were only two other cars there on a weekday evening in June and we were happy to be some of the only people at this incredible spot. Just after stepping out of the car, we saw one of the most incredible views I’ve ever seen. The wild and rugged coastline stretched out for miles in front of us, wind whipped our hair, and we listened to the sounds of the waves crashing below us.
After soaking in these incredible views for a while, we continued down the path to the lighthouse. It was a really lovely stroll but very windy and quite chilly! We stopped at the leaning cypress tree to capture our own version of the classic photo below.
We finally got to the lighthouse area. There was a small visitor center which was closed, a handful of small worn sheds, and a huge gray whale skull.
When we got to the lighthouse itself, the stairs down were closed! We got there a bit too late.
We were a little bummed out that the stairs down were closed but the views of the lighthouse from the viewing platform above were still wonderful. We stayed there for an hour or so to watch the sunset. It was a breathtaking view and a magnificent experience.
I highly recommend Point Reyes to anyone who is nearby! There were a few other hikes in the area that we didn’t have time to do and I definitely want to come back here again some day to do more exploring and have more adventures!
Our next stop was Yosemite which will be my next post and right now we are decompressing up in central Oregon. If you have any recommendations for Washington and Oregon, please let me know on Instagram (@carrieoutdoors)!
The adventures continue as Steve and I make our way north through California. There has been an incredible amount of beautiful scenery on the rugged coast and in the immense redwood forests. Keep reading to find out what we did and to see photos of our travels!
After having a blast in the Eastern Sierra region (Alabama Hills and Mammoth Lakes) we drove west to the California coast. Our original plans had us exploring as much of the coast as possible, but some recent (and historically huge) landslides meant that we would have to start north of the slides and skip a chunk of the Big Sur area. Despite this setback, we saw some incredible scenery and drove on some amazing roads. Keep reading to see where we went!
Big Sur to Santa Cruz
We started by driving south along the coast on Route 1 to see how far we could get. We were able to get as far south as the town of Big Sur before running into the “road closed” signs.
As bummed as we were that Pfeiffer Beach and McWay Falls were inaccessible, the views we saw along our drive were some of the best I have ever seen! We stopped at almost every viewpoint and turnoff, trying to soak in the incredible beauty. The brilliant blue water of the Pacific Ocean shimmered far below steep cliffs covered in fields of yellow wildflowers. Here are just a handful of the many amazing photos we took along the California coast!
We also stopped by the famous Bixby Creek Bridge for some photos! There were a lot of other people there, but it was a beautiful viewpoint.
And we took a selfie, for good measure!
After a lovely drive through the Big Sur area, we headed back north along the coast to Davenport to check out the old abandoned pier. This is an odd structure where a pier used to be, but now all that remained were the cement pylons that used to hold up the pier. We wandered around on the steep cliff above, looking down on the scene as the sun slowly set. There appeared to be a steep and treacherous-looking path down to the beach, but we chose not to take it and instead enjoyed the awesome views from above.
Shark Fin Cove
Another beautiful spot that we checked out near Davenport was Shark Fin Cove. Thankfully this was a pin on our custom Google Map, or we may have missed this incredible spot! There were no signs on the street and nothing indicating there was anything to see down below. We had done our research ahead of time and knew exactly which unmarked dirt pull-off spot was the correct parking area. There was a steep but short path of loose dirt that led down to the beach. If you go here, be sure to wear sneakers or boots and not flip flops on this trail!
Shark Fin Cove is named for the giant rock in the ocean which looks very much like a shark fin. We were there around sunset, but I think the scene may have been even more beautiful at some time in the morning when the sunlight would be lighting up the shark fin.
This was a really beautiful cove, that also included a small cave that waves crashed in and out of.
We saw some really huge waves and enjoyed how the ocean sounds echoed off of the walls surrounding us. Unfortunately, this area was also very dirty and poorly maintained. There was a ton of trash that had been left behind by people and the rock walls were covered with graffiti. I was very disappointed to see such a beautiful place treated so poorly and covered in garbage. We all need to treat our natural places with more respect!
Our next stop on the California coast was Glass Beach near Fort Bragg. This beach used to be a dump in the early 1900s and the town would literally push their trash into the ocean. Over the years, the waves broke apart and smoothed the glass from the trash into beautiful, colorful pieces of sea glass.
The first evening when we arrived, we checked out the main beach, located just behind a parking lot with pit toilets. The main beach was a bit disappointing, as I was expecting fields of glass but it was mostly a rough, rocky beach.
The next morning we came back and found the other glass beach, just south of the main beach. This second beach, which is only accessible at low tide, has much more of the beautiful sea glass. Most of the glass is a cloudy white color but there are also green and brown pieces and occasionally you can find some lovely blue, teal, yellow, and pink!
The signs around the beach said not to take any of the sea glass, which seems strange considering it’s actually just trash! However, at the Sea Glass Museum that we visited later in the day, there were signs saying that it is technically legal to take the glass but that you should replace it with “seed glass” that they sold at the gift shop. According to the museum, the sea glass has actually become a life-sustaining source in the ocean. The museum owner claimed that sea creatures feed off of the minerals from the glass and other animals make their home in the crevices between the glass stones. It is very tempting to take the beautiful pieces of glass, and I saw people collecting it by the bagful. I recommend checking out the museum first before going to the beach to decide if you want to take the glass.
The museum itself was really neat (and free!) with a huge and impressive collection of large glass pieces of glass in every color of the rainbow! There were also pieces of metal, pottery, animal bones, and other artifacts from the sea.
After the NorCal coast, our next stop was the unbelievable redwoods and the stunning southern Oregon coast, but I will save those for my next blog post! In the meantime, please let me know if you have any suggestions for Oregon and Washington! Find me on Instagram: (@carrieoutdoors) and don’t forget to check out the amazing accounts I recommended at the top of my blog!
So this blog post is going to be a little different in that it is not super current. I am still exploring SoCal and not quite ready to blog about this part of the trip yet, so in the meantime I wanted to take a moment to write about my recently-completed quest to summit all 48 of the 4,000-foot mountains in New Hampshire (aka the 4,000-Footers). Even though I am out exploring some unbelievably incredible areas of this country, the mountains of New England hold a special place in my heart and I often think back to many awesome moments in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The beginning of this post will be a general overview of my journey that everyone can enjoy, and the very last section will be specifically for anyone who is actually considering hiking these peaks!
I’ll start at the beginning. After a few months of dating my now-husband Steve, I decided to move from New York City to join him Boston, where I found an excellent teaching job. Right away, Steve introduced me to the White Mountains in New Hampshire and I quickly fell in love. As a kid growing up in upstate New York, I loved spending time in the Adirondacks hiking the trails, climbing the mountains, and swimming in the lakes. I grew up loving the outdoors and spending time in beautiful nature. During my time in NYC, I was very busy with work (I taught at a public high school in the South Bronx) and often felt trapped in the city without a car, and therefore I rarely saw the wilderness.
Once in Boston I quickly realized that I was only a 2-3 hour drive from the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire and was reminded of how much I love hiking and being in the mountains. Then Steve told me about the 4,000-Footers and how he had climbed 10 or so of them over the years with his friends. For those of you not familiar with the 4,000-Footers, this is a list of the mountain peaks over 4,000 feet in New Hampshire (there are 48 of them in total). We decided to head up north and hike a few of them together and I was instantly hooked. As a lover of to-do lists, I suddenly found myself in the midst of a massive to-do list of 48 mountains, each containing incredible beauty, intense work outs, and unique experiences.
Over the next four years, Steve and I drove up to lovely towns like Woodstock, Lincoln, Gorham, Jackson, and North Conway which would be the basecamps for our hikes. We hiked during spring rainstorms, on hot summer days, in the gorgeous foliage of autumn, and even on snow covered winter afternoons. Some hikes were quick and included one summit (for example Mount Hale which is a 4.4 mile hike and took only three and a half hours) whereas other hikes took multiple days and hit multiple summits (for example the Presidential Traverse which hit 7 summits and was 23 miles of hiking with 9,000 feet of elevation gain). Each hike was incredibly unique, considering they are all within a short distance from each other, with lovely wooded trails, occasional ponds and lakes, and many beautiful views from the summits. We hiked alone or with friends and met some incredible people along the way.
Our final hike, number 48, was Mount Carrigain. This was a medium difficulty hike but was incredibly memorable. At the summit we ran into a family who was celebrating that the father was also completing his 48th mountain and they had a bottle of champagne which they joyfully shared with us on the fire tower! I have found that hikers in the White Mountains are incredibly kind and down to earth. We may not have the rocky peaks and epic alpine lakes like the Northwest, but the beauty of the New Hampshire mountains is very special. Whether they are shrouded in dense fog, basking in sunshine, covered with amazing fall foliage, or layered with snow, the White Mountains are a treat for those willing to leave the comforts of home and hike into their wilderness. Working through the 4,000-Footer list forced us to hike a wide variety of mountains, not just the popular and most scenic peaks, which ended up revealing a lot of unique beauty and solitude that we otherwise may have never experienced.
This was truly an amazing journey. I fell in love with peakbagging and found comfort and motivation in checking mountain after mountain off of our list and adding pin after pin to our map. Steve and I grew stronger both physically and mentally and the hikes brought us closer together as a couple. We even got engaged on our overnight hike of Lincoln and Lafayette!
If you live in the northeast I highly recommend hiking some of the 4,000 Footers. If you would like suggestions on which ones to hike, please reach out to me! If you live far away, but like the idea of hiking lists or peakbagging, take a look if there are any hiking lists in your area! Perhaps there is a mountain range nearby (Colorado 14ers, Adirondack 46ers, etc) or perhaps you could try something like the county high points in your state!
Now if you’re nowhere near New Hampshire and have no desire to hike these mountains, you can stop reading here! However if you’re interested in doing the NH 4000 Footers, I have a few pieces of helpful information below!
Woodstock Brewery in Lincoln, NH is a great place to grab a bite to eat and some delicious beers after a hike! They even have a 4,000 Footer IPA! I recommend the Loon Dip and the Cogsman Ale!
My favorite hikes were Lincoln/Lafayette, Moosilauke, and the Presidential Traverse!
My least favorite hikes were Hale (no views) and the Wildcats.
Check out the AMC huts! They are beautiful inside and have awesome maps, pit toilets, and free water. If it’s in your budget, staying overnight at one of the huts is an amazing experience!
Whenever possible, I recommend trying to do multiple peaks in one hike. It’s a great experience and also cuts down the total number of hikes you will do to complete the list.
Try to catch some sunsets or sunrises in the mountains, they are unbelievable. If you can spend a night during a new moon, you might even be able to see the Milky Way over the mountain peaks (see photo below).
Always check the weather and trail conditions before hiking, especially on the Presidential Range or in winter and early spring.
As always, be sure to follow the Leave No Trace philosophy. These are some of the most beautiful and well maintained trails I’ve ever hiked and I want them to stay that way! Stay on the trails, follow the rules about camping and fires, and be sure to pack out ALL of your trash, including apple cores, banana peels, sunflower seed shells, and orange peels!
And lastly, here are some very important resources to help you get started!
First of all, this website (http://home.earthlink.net/~ellozy/) is the best resource for hiking the 4,000-Footers! I have no idea how we would have completed this journey without this site. It has mileage, elevation gains, and book times for the different routes to the peaks as well as commentary about each hike. It talks about which peaks can be combined together in a single hike as well. This site is super helpful!
There is a great Facebook group Hike the 4000 footers of NH! which is a wonderful community of other hikers of the 4,000-Footers. There is occasionally drama in the comments, but mostly it is full of kind and supportive hikers who offer advice, seek suggestions, or organize group hikes in the Whites.
If you plan to hike Mount Washington or any of the Presidentials, this website (Mount Washington Observatory) is critical for checking the weather before you go. Mount Washington has been said to have “the worst weather in the world” and can be extremely dangerous, so be sure to stay up to date on the weather and be prepared for cold and snow, even in the summer!