No trail should be underestimated. With that said, nothing in the White Mountains should ever be underestimated. Before my first visit to New Hampshire, and its beautiful White Mountains, I read an article that compared them to some of the more difficult and dangerous ranges in the world. I figured the writer was just trying to stir intrigue and reach more readers with his intense writing. As it turns out, he wasn’t wrong.
Though the Whites are a part of the Appalachians, an often assumingly benign chain, they present challenges and even dangers that compare much larger mountains in more-well known mountaineering areas. Much like the rest of the trails in New England the luxury of switchbacks are unknown, forcing the trekker to scale and scramble rocks and steep trails to reach the views this range offers. Though earned through the challenges and hardships this range forces upon the adventurer the views and accomplishments are some of the most alluring and significant to be found. I would go as far to compare the Whites to some mountains many travel to explore out west, without so much potential of the risk of an altitude hit, of course.
The highest point in New Hampshire is Mt. Washington, which is the king of the White Mountains (and of the New England peaks) standing at 6,288’ (1,917 m). For those traversing the AT it’s just another point along the trail. However, many travel to this pinnacle alone to test their metal and experience the extraordinary beauty of the area. Surrounding Mt. Washington and the rest of the Whites are miles and miles of lush thick forests, rushing rocky rivers that cascade over high cliffs or empty into peaceful sedimentary pools in grassy meadows of wildflowers, and outstanding backcountry vistas. All of this is of course accessed by the many trails that wind and climb through out the area.
Places of note to check out while visiting the White Mountains and the White Mountain National Forest: Lincoln Woods with access to Franconia Brook Trail and Lincoln Brook Trail, which can be traveled as an out and back or a full day loop trail. Lincoln Woods is a great place to launch from as it provides parking and access to trails and routes other than the fore mentioned trails. Lincoln Woods also provides access to the AT via the Osseo Trail Which turns into the Franconia Ridge Trail. And of course there is Mt. Washington, Which is the highlight of the area and is an unforgettable venture well worth the effort with numerous access points but distant for a longer trek and closer for a hearty day trek.
Map Used: National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: White Mountain National Forest #740 and #741