How Hard is It To Hike Mt Washington? (Beginners Guide)

How Hard Is It To Hike Mt Washington

Hiking is one of the main outdoor activities in the country, and Mt Washington is very popular among hikers. 

Several trails are going up the mountain, and many experienced and inexperienced hikers have hiked or looked forward to hiking Mt Washington. 

Mt Washington is a very challenging hike, even for experienced hikers. A hike up the mountain can be very dangerous with unpredictable weather, severe storms, cold winds, and rains. Many hikers have also gotten lost on a hike because some trails do not have markings.

Can A Novice Hiker Climb Mt Washington?

How Hard Is It To Hike Mt Washington

Experience is important in hiking, especially if you want to hike a notoriously challenging mountain like Mt Washington. 

Mt Washington, also known as the most dangerous small mountain in the world, is not the best hiking destination for beginners. 

One thing that can adequately prepare someone for the long and often dangerous hike is hiking other mountains. 

Hiking Mt Washington requires a lot of balance and stamina, even if you take the easier routes. 

If you’re a beginner, you need to get your mind and body in shape before you go on the hike. 

However, a novice can also hike Mt Washington with adequate information and preparation. 

If you’re a novice and want to hike Mt Washington, you must take one of the easier trails. A novice can hike the mountain if they’re prepared, informed, and take an easier trail. 

But you also must remember that regardless of the trail you take, the unpredictable weather, the height, and the stress the hike puts on your mind and body make it very dangerous.

Always take the shorter trail if you haven’t been on many hikes. For an inexperienced hiker, you don’t have to choose the more challenging route for experienced and hardened hikers. 

A novice must use the route that will take you up the mountain safely and quickly. And as a beginner, you should never hike alone. 

Always hike in a group, preferably a group of other, more experienced hikers. You have to be very meticulous in packing your hiking gear. 

Take everything that you may need. But, don’t pack so much that your backpack gets too heavy, slows you down, or makes you tired faster.

How Long Do I Need To Hike Mt Washington?

It will take a hiker about eight hours to reach the summit of Mt Washington. You’ll need eight hours to complete the round trip for a regular hiker going at a normal speed. 

Of course, the time it will take you depends on the weather, the trail, your stamina, experience, and speed. 

Mount Washington is 6,288 feet making it the tallest mountain in NH and the northeast.

Not only is Mt Washington very tall, but it is also dangerous with unpredictable weather and steep ravines. 

A hike up Mt Washington will be one the most challenging but also one of the most rewarding hiking experiences you can have.

However, you must prepare because it takes the average hiker, which means many hikers, at least eight hours to summit Mt Washington. 

For the faster hikers, it takes them about six hours to reach the summit. So, it will take six to eight hours to get to the summit.

You also must consider the time you stop to catch your breath or get some rest. That and the speed at which you’re going. 

Many hikers, especially experienced ones, usually take less time to summit because they’ve had practice and take fewer breaks. 

For an inexperienced hiker, the climb will weaken your knees, and the further you go, the slower you become.

For most hikers, the few miles to the top are the slowest. That’s why you must be strong before hiking Mt Washington. 

The experience may be rewarding, but without proper preparation, you may not survive talking about it. 

In addition to preparation and fitness, the trail you take also affects the time you will take to reach the summit. 

Some trails are quicker and easier, but a hiker may choose the more difficult trail for the thrill of the sights. 

If you want to go up quickly, choose the quicker trail. But remember that it is not about speed. It’s about the experience.

What Is the Easiest Way To Climb Mt Washington?

Mt Washington has about a dozen trails, all of which are challenging. Due to the height of the mountain, summiting it is no easy feat. 

However, the Jewell trail is the fastest and easiest way to get to the top of Mt Washington. 

There are other shorter trails, but the Jewell trail is the quickest because, unlike other routes, it is not as rugged or as strenuous.

The Jewell trail is about 5.2 miles going up, and it does not gain so much elevation going up, which means that a climb on that trail will not take the life out of a hiker’s knees. 

Well, it will, but not as badly as the other trails. The trail gains only 4000 feet of elevation up to the top of the mountain

In addition to being the quickest way up the mountain, the Jewell trail also has a lot of beautiful sights to see going up the mountain. 

The trail begins at Base Road, in the Cog Railway station parking lot. And from there, you can see the Cog train going up and down the mountain. 

You should also know that the Jewell trail is only the easiest compared to the other more strenuous trails, but it isn’t easy to hike. 

It is still a hard muscle-aching hike up and down. So, in addition to the Jewell trail, there are four other popular trails up the mountain. 

I’ll arrange them in the table below, including the elevation and the distance going up.

Mt Washington TrailsDistance Going UpElevation
Jewell trail5.2 miles4,000 ft
Ammonoosuc trail4.5 miles6,288 ft
Boott Spur trail5.4 miles5,492 ft
Lion’s head trail4.2 miles 4,300 ft
Tuckerman Ravine trail4.2 miles4,300 ft

What Do I Need To Hike Mt Washington?

The most important thing you need is to be prepared in mind and body. 

Mt Washington has been called the home of the worst weather, and it is notoriously one of the toughest mountains to hike in the northwest. 

So, going up that mountain, you must be mentally and physically prepared and carry the appropriate gear.

You’ll need some things on a climb up Mt Washington:

#1. Day Pack

The first thing you need to think about is a day pack. For a hike like that, a day pack is usually better than a fanny pack or a regular back. 

A day pack is more comfortable and sits squarely on your shoulders and waist, so the weight is spread.

With a day pack, you can fit the rest of your hiking gear and carry it more conveniently. 

#2. Water

Hydration is super important on a hike, especially one that can get very strenuous. If you want to go on a hike, invest in a hydration pack.

Or you can get packs of water from stores. Also, there are water stations on the hike up.

But always have your water with you on the hike, but water is weighty, so carry just enough.

#3. Hiking Shoes

The right pair of shoes can make or mar your hiking experience. Get a pair of sturdy, well-fitting shoes you’ve already broken in. 

The trails leading up the mountain’s summit are rough, so don’t wear sandals, tennis shoes, or open-toe shoes. 

#4. Socks

Get a pair of merino wool socks; cotton socks aren’t the best for hikes. Get 2-3 quick-dry wicker socks and change at the summit. 

#5. Trekking Poles

Trekking poles aren’t an absolute necessity, but you can always carry them just in case.

They will provide balance to you, especially on the descent. You can balance on them when your legs get weak.

#6. Sunscreen and Sunglasses

Again, not a necessity but useful. All day-long exposure to sunlight can weaken your eyes, so good sunglasses can help protect your eyes and sunscreen for the exposed parts of your body.

#7. Snacks

Pack high-calorie snacks for the hike. Hiking burns a lot of calories, so you need to keep replenishing. But stick to familiar snacks that also digest easily.


Hiking Mt Washington is not easy, the terrains are rough, and the weather is unpredictable, especially at the summit. 

So, it’s best to have some hiking experience before attempting to climb Mt Washington. 


Josh Matthews

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