Tuckerman Ravine Trail --> Lion Head Trail --> Tuckerman Ravine Trail --> Crawford Path --> Davis Path --> Boott Spur Trail --> Tuckerman Ravine Trail
Distance: 8.62 mi.
Elevation Gain: 4,232 ft. (overall) 4,406 ft. (total)
Time: 4:44 (up) 8:21 (total)
This year would be my first year participating in Seek the Peak and also my first time hiking Mt. Washington without it being part of a traverse. This being the case, pretty much any route up would be new trails to me. For whatever reason, I kept thinking about hiking from the eastern side of the mountain. I decided on a loop that would get me good views into Tuckerman Ravine and avoid some of the crowd that would be on that trail. This route ended up being up Tuckerman Ravine Trail to Lions Head and the summit. Then back down via the Crawford Path to Davis Path and Boott Spur Trail.
I guess I had never looked at the topo map enough for Tuckerman Ravine. I was a little surprised how much elevation the trail gains before Lions Head and the main part of the ravine. Maybe this was just because people make the ravine out to be such a big place, but in hindsight it makes sense. I guess I was just thinking the head wall was taller than it is. This section of trail went pretty quick and easy though. The trail is at a moderate grade most of the time, but being wide and not having huge rocks in the trail makes it a quick hike. Soon I was at the junction with the Lion Head Trail.
Tuckerman Ravine Trail
Going up the side of the ravine, I knew the Lion Head Trail would be pretty steep to start, and it was. It goes up steeply, but not with anything too hard. There were some good scrambles and a ladder, but with only slightly damp places in the trail, they weren't hard. Just before the alpine zone, there is a short section that works across the ravine wall staying mostly level that gives a small break. Then you pop out and it goes up less steeply, but still at a good grade. You also come out onto more rocks like the mountain is known for. The hike up to Lion Head itself isn't too bad with just one steep part right before it. There are nice views here into the ravine and you could easily see the brook and waterfall coming down the head wall.
Ladder on Lion Head Trail
Short steep scramble
From the junction with the Alpine Garden Trail, it's 0.9 miles to the summit. Someone ahead of me commented about that, and the woman coming down the trail responded with "it's a long 0.9 miles." From here, my GPS was still saying there was something like 800 feet of elevation gain. There is one steep part where the trail is a little hard to figure out. I think it goes straight up the hard section, but there is a noticeable trail around it as well. From there it is just the steady rocky climb up the remainder of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail along with the crowd on it.
Tuckerman Ravine head wall
Follow the swarm of people
The summit was in and out of the clouds, so there wasn't a lot of views while I was up there. But since I had just finished up my volunteer week on the summit 4 days before, I was very familiar with them anyways. This also meant that for the tour, I just headed straight for the cookies and to talk with the group that replaced my shift down in the living quarters. They didn't count all the cookies they made this year, but they did make less than last year (817) due to the weather for Saturday and the expected difference in hiker numbers. After a chat, snack, and drink, it was time to head out.
Now serving #372. I waited for a break between groups, grabbed a quick pic of just the sign, and walked over the summit before heading inside
To avoid the dip and extra rise of the Lawn Cut-Off Trail, I went down the Crawford Path to the Davis Path. This also allowed me the option of hitting Monroe if felling up to it. I thought about it and think I could have done the extra elevation gain, but decided I didn't want to use the time and get home even later tonight. The hike over the Davis Path to the summit of Boott Spur is a great section. It's not hard and the rocks are pretty easy to go over. The rises are gentle and you get to go past many cairns. I noticed that on this route, the cairns are hollow. There are just the outside with rings of rock getting smaller on the way up. I'm sure this makes them quicker to build and less likely to fall in winter with the snow and ice conditions.
Looking down the presidentials from Davis Path
Looking back to the summit
From the summit of Boott Spur down, the trail seems to be one long steady downhill that continues at a pretty good downward angle. The rocks were easy to navigate except for one short section with large boulders. Views are also still in abundance giving you something to always look at. Split rock was interesting, but I wasn't that impressed with Harvard Rock. There is a nice view into the ravine, but the rock isn't much special in my opinion. This might have been party due to poor lighting at this point for photos. Once back into the trees, I noticed some small flowers were still out. A couple different varieties, but mostly a patch of Spring Beauties.
Once below treeline, the trail stays at a moderate grade down with some small steeper rocky spots. None of these were too tricky, even though I did fall on what should have been one easy one. Through here, the trail didn't seem to have many defining features that would really help you figure out where you are on the map. This only was an issue when you tried to figure out how far it was to the end. The small viewpoints that were on the trail, didn't show on either of my maps. About the time it seemed that this trail wasn't going to end, I came to the ladder near the bottom. The ladder is steep for going down, so the choice was either backwards or sideways. I went backwards while the couple hikers near me went sideways while I stopped for a photo. After this, you quickly cross the ski path and come back to the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. Then it is just a short walk back to the trail head.
Boott Spur Trail Ladder
All in all, this was a great hike. Today's weather was far better than Saturday's when most planned to hike. It made for great hiking weather and good views to the east all day. I was happy with how I felt after the hike given the amount of elevation gain Mt. Washington has in the relatively short distance to hike it.
My route shown on Google Earth
For all the pictures from the hike, just go HERE