Observer Comments

13:08 Sat Jun 15, 2019

Seek Your Peak: Alternative Hikes to Mount Washington


Looking across the southern Presidential Range from Mount Washington. The southern "Presis" feature much more moderate hikes than Mount Washington that still offer great views!
Although many people choose Mount Washington as their goal to hike for Seek the Peak (just one month away!) alternative hikes are a great option for those perhaps not ready to tackle New England’s highest peak. Hiking Mount Washington is not a requirement for the event, as mentioned on our website

“Ultimately the weekend is an incredible gathering of like-minded outdoor enthusiasts who have come together to Seek their Peaks in support of Mount Washington Observatory.”

Part of the goal of the event is to seek your peak, whatever that might be! There are many fantastic hiking trails here in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, including many with great views of their own for far less effort required than Mount Washington. Below are three “beginner to moderate” hiking options here in the Presidential Range, all with views of Mount Washington that could serve to cap off a great Seek the Peak hike! Still, the first two especially are a pretty solid workout, and can serve as a good point to work or train up to!

 The view over Crawford Notch and into the valley below from Mount Webster

Mount Webster: Mount Webster (3,911 ft) is located at the far southern end of the Presidential Range, and has spectacular views overlooking Crawford Notch and also views stretching to the north to Mount Washington. The hike also features a waterfall as a bonus, and can be combined with nearby Mount Jackson as a longer loop (5.2 miles for the loop, 4 miles for Mt Webster alone). I personally prefer the views from Mount Webster over Mount Jackson, since there is a great view of the steep drop off into Crawford Notch. I recently did this as a training hike myself for Seek the Peak!

Mount Eisenhower: Although Mount Eisenhower (4,780 ft) is a much taller mountain than Mount Webster, it’s actually about the same difficulty in terms of how strenuous the hike is. The hike is longer at 6.5 miles round trip, but overall it’s a little bit less steep throughout the hike. As a reward for the added effort, the summit has 360-degree views of the surrounding terrain, including a unique perspective across the Dry River Wilderness and up to Mount Washington. 

Mount Washington's massive summit cone looms off to the north from the summit of Mount Eisenhower. 

Black Cap Mountain: By far the easiest of these three, but still with great views! This is a great hike to do with kids due to being shorter in length (2.2 miles round trip) and not very steep. This hike starts on Hurricane Mountain Rd in North Conway, NH. The road (and your car) does most of the climbing up the shoulder of the mountain, and is very windy. On top a series of smooth ledges offer great views of the Mount Washington valley with Mount Washington off in the distance. Since this is a shorter hike it can also serve as a great training mountain for the two above!

However you choose to seek your peak, from everyone here at the Mount Washington Observatory thank you for being a part of our community and supporting our important work! Happy hiking!

Thomas Padham, Weather Observer/Education Specialist


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