View Full Version : hike the Whites in October

08-15-2007, 04:55 AM
Hello everyone,
I am new here in the forum and plan to go hiking in the White Mountains in October this year.
I'm from Germany and my plan is, getting to the area by bus from Boston and starting from Lincoln. From there on I want to hike to Gorham and then go back to Boston.
I'm asking for some hints and advice. How long will this take (more than a week?). What can the weather be? And what do I have to look for besides the information I got from AT Guide and some internet sources.
I hope you can help me planning my trip.

I apologize for my simple english

08-15-2007, 09:38 PM
Wow, Frank. I'm not sure what to tell you.

Let's start with your starting point... By Lincoln, you mean that you'll be starting at Franconia Notch or Lincoln Woods? How long it will take will definitely depend on where you start and how far you are comfortable walking each day.

What can the weather be? Well, we've hiked in August when hikers were wearing full goose down suits, and we've hiked in October when the very wet snow stuck to all our clothes and made us very wet and cold in just a few hours. You need to be prepared for true winter conditions. Especially on the Presidentials.

Now, a question for the group... how would you even do the traverse in October? The huts are closed and it's illegal to camp above treeline unless there's 2 feet of snow, right?

So, if we assume that Garfield and Guyot campsites are options, and the Highland Center/Nauman Tent sites are options, then the real problem is just getting over the Presidentials. From Nauman tent site heading north, where's the next place you can legally camp in October?

Frank, I would definitely suggest that you purchase a copy of the AMC guide - here's a link to Amazon:


I hope this helps,

08-16-2007, 08:38 AM
Yeah that is a tough one. I second the recommended White Mountain Guide.
Starting in Lincoln means you can either follow the A.T. over the Kinsmans, Lafayette, Presi's, Carters, or go over the Bonds, Presi's, and Carters. Either way you're looking at about 5 days.
Depending on whether it's early October or late October can mean allot in the weather department. Early October means cold nights probably near or below freezing but warmer days and possible snow at higher elevations. Late October could be near winter conditions and usually some snow on the higher peaks. But anytime in the Whites you could get caught with extreme conditions so be prepared.
To me the toughest stretch to find a place to camp would be the section over the Presi's.
There are a few shelters/campsites along the way that are open year round. If you went over the Kinsmans first I would say route and shelter wise I would do:

The Kinsman ridge trail out of RT112 to Kinsman pond shelter (day 1), go down by Lonesome lake and cross over to Lafayette, Garfield to the Garfield ridge campsite (day 2), over S. Twin to the Twinway trail to the A-Z trail, over Mt. Tom staying at the Highland Center(day 3). Then the tougher stretch starts. Up the Crawford path still following the A.T. this stretch puts you above treeline exposed for quite a while with really nowhere to camp legally until you get to the Perch (day 4). From there you could either follow the ridge to Mt. Madison and descend the Pine link/Pine mountain trails into Gorham or go over Madison down the Daniel Webster Scout trail cross over Rt16 up the Imp trail to N. Carter and stay at the Imp campsite (day 5) and then take the Carter/Moriah trail into Gorham.
If you went the other way over the Bonds you would stay at the Guyot shelter and then pickup the Twinway trail towards the Highland Center.

Good luck, have fun, be very prepared.

rockin rex
08-16-2007, 05:57 PM
Plan on a week to do Lincoln to Gorham because of the possibility of bad weather in October. This is my recommendation for the trip. When in Lincoln head for the wilderness parking area / Lincoln Woods visitor center which is located near to Loon mountain ski area. Start out on the Wilderness trail taking it around 4 1/2 miles to the Boncliff trail. Take the Bondcliff trail 5.6 to the Guyot campsite. Stay at Guyot Campsite giving you time to hang out on the Bonds. Next day take Bondcliff Trail to the Twinway / A.T. Take Twinway to the Zealand trail. Take Zealand Trail 0.2 miles to the A-Z trail. Take the A-Z Trail which turns into the Avalon trail to the Highland center. You can stay here in a hostel or in nicer digs if you prefer. Now the challange begins!! From the Highland center to Gorham it is almost all on the A.T. The A.T. is given different names across the Presidentials. The next night after Highland Center I would head via Crawford Path for either Hermit Lakes Shelters (off Tuckermans Ravine Trail) or if the weather is good and you feel strong head onto Grey Knob or Crag camp. These cabins are located off of Lowes path 1.2 DOWN from the ridge. Next day climb back up to the Ridge and Head for Pinkham notch climbing Adams and Madison. Stay at Pinkham notch for the night. Next day hike 12 miles to the Imp Campsite. This is a tough 12 mile day but after good food at Pinkham it should be no problem. The next day it is 6 miles to Gorham via the A.T. to the Carter Moriah Trail. This traverse in October could be difficult with bad weather/snow but if the weather holds would be an incredible hike. Good luck and I hope this helps alittle.

Bill O
08-16-2007, 07:30 PM
Full goose down suits in August? Like summit day on Everest? They may have been wearing that, but the statistics would show they probably didn't need it.

Logistically, I'll start with the weather. October is a tricky month. And if past performance is any indicator its been increasingly snowy in October. Which may be easy to plan for in January, but in October you have the threat of big snowfall on the summits preceded or followed by 60F degrees days.

Chances are you are going to have decent weather. And in early October, little risk of snow. Which makes October a great month for day hikes and over nighters. Especially since short range forecasts are so reliable. On the other hand, when you commit to a multi-day traverse you could be three days in with mostly summer-like weather when the forecast changes and you get nailed by a snow storm on the 5th day.

Something to ponder, not necessarily cancel your trip, but you need to think about it.

I stayed at Greenleaf over Columbus Day weekend and it was in the 60's up high. A week earlier there was a foot of snow on Mount Washington.

08-17-2007, 06:02 AM
Full goose down suits in August? Like summit day on Everest? They may have been wearing that, but the statistics would show they probably didn't need it.

Well, yes, you're right. We didn't have them and we didn't perish :p but I think they were more comfortable than we were on that particular day.

09-04-2007, 03:51 AM
Thank you all for your hints. I am still organizing the trip, but the tips were very helpful. Still I'm not sure how to go back to Boston in time, but I think i can solve this.