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Methods of Ascent

There are three typical means of ascent of the mountain:

Mount Washington Auto Road

The Mount Washington Auto Road began as a carriage road in 1861. It saw its first automobile ascent in 1899, and nowadays may see 150,000 people travel on it each year.

The eight-mile Road is privately owned, and a toll is charged for its use. It can be ascended in private cars, motorcycles, and ATV's (the latter only in organized groups)– please see the Road's website for further details, as there are some vehicles that are not allowed on the Road due to size, weight, or gearing issues. The Road also has guided tour vans (still called "stages" after the horse-drawn wagons of yesteryear) which allow visitors to leave the driving to an experienced driver while enjoying the view and the driver's narrated tour.

The Road is comparatively narrow, somewhat steep in places, and once above treeline is open and without guard rails. Individuals who feel they may be uncomfortable driving up and down such a road would do well to consider enjoying the mountain's scenery through a guided tour.

The Auto Road's website can be visited for more information about schedule, rates for private vehicles and for guided tours, vehicle restrictions, etc.: www.mtwashingtonautoroad.com

The usual season for the Road is roughly mid-May to mid-to-late October. Seasonal opening of the Road can be earlier or later, depending on how much snow and ice lingers on the Road after the winter, and how quickly it can be cleared. The autumn seasonal closing of the Road is also weather-dependent – early snow can lead to an earlier closing, but fair weather can allow later operation.

Please note that there are a few days in a typical season when special events alter the normal Road schedule – such as for the annual bicycle and foot races, and two motorcycle-only days in June. Check the events schedule on the Road's website for more information.

Also, please be aware the bicycles are NOT permitted on the Road (the only exception for this is for registered entrants in the annual bicycle events). Walking on the Road is not encouraged, but it is not prohibited.

The Mount Washington Auto Road also operates a "Hiker Shuttle" one-way down the mountain. Service is dependent on weather and availability of equipment, so hikers should NOT count on having access to a shuttle for the descent – if they are hiking up, they should plan on hiking down, and consider themselves fortunate if they can ride a shuttle down. Shuttle tickets can be purchased at the Stage Office, on the summit.

Mount Washington Cog Railway

The Mount Washington Cog Railway has been operating on the mountain since 1869. It employs new bio-diesel engines, as well as some historic coal-burning steam locomotives to ascend the roughly 3 miles from its Marshfield Base Station to the summit. An estimated 60,000 people ride "The Cog" each year.

The usual season for the Cog Railway is roughly mid-May to late October, though the season can be extended in both directions. For detailed information about the Cog Railway, its seasonal and daily schedule, and fares, please check the Cog Railway website: www.thecog.com

One-way down tickets can usually be purchased at the summit (the ticket office (also the summit post office) is just inside the door of the State Park building).

Plan Ahead!

Whether one is going up the mountain by the Auto Road or the Cog Railway, it's best to be prepared for windier, colder conditions on the summit than you have found at the base of the mountain. Even in mid-summer, bringing an extra jacket (or a heavy sweater and windbreaker), perhaps extra warm pants, a warm hat, and gloves – plus rain gear – can make your visit to the summit more enjoyable, and may allow you to spend more time outdoors in relative comfort than you could if you were lightly dressed.

Hiking to and from the Summit

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