I’m a weekend hiker and casual outdoorsman. I spent 6 weeks working on the Maine Escape part Duex project outside Fryeburg, ME and wanted to end it on a “high note”, by hiking Mt Washington. This is my Mt Washington westside loop.
LOCATION – My Mt Washington Westside Loop
My Mt Washington Westside Loop begins and ends at the Mt Washington Cog Railway, Marshfield Base Station.
STATS – My Mt Washington Westside Loop
- Level: Difficult
- Distance: 8.8 mi.
- Elev. Gain: 3,588 ft.
- Est. Time: 7.5 hrs.
- Type: Loop
My Mt Washington Westside Loop uses the following trails to get you from the Marshfield Base Station to the summit of Mt Washington and back down to the Marshfield Base Station without back tracking.
Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail (from Marshfield Base Station)
- Distance: 2.5 mi.
- Elev. Gain: 2,500 ft.
- Est. Time: 2 hrs.
Crawford Path (segment)
- Distance: 1.5 mi.
- Elev. Gain: 1,100 ft.
- Est. Time: 1.5 hrs.
Trinity Heights Connector
- Distance: 0.5 mi.
- Elev. Gain: 250 ft.
- Est. Time: 0.5 hrs.
Gulfside Trail (segment)
- Distance: 1.4 mi.
- Elev. Gain: 650 ft
- Est. Time: 1.5 hrs.
Jewell Trail (to Marshfield Base Station)
- Distance: 2.9 mi.
- Elev. Gain: 2,700 ft.
- Est. Time: 2 hrs.
TERRAIN – My Mt Washington Westside Loop
From the gravel parking follow the paved access road up to the Marshfield Base Station (Elev. 2,700 ft.). The station opens seasonally at 8:00 am and is a great place to buy a map and get the summit weather report. It is worth noting that Mt Washington summit (Elev. 6,288 ft.) has the worst weather in the world (no exaggeration) and sunny and warm conditions at the base don’t mean it’s the same at the summit. Check the weather report before you set out and plan to add layers of clothes as you ascend. Behind the station on the right is a gravel road leading up and through a series of cabins on a hill. Follow this road and the signs for the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail lead you to the trailhead.
PROMINENT GEOLOGY – My Mt Washington Westside Loop
ECOLOGY – My Mt Washington Westside Loop
Ascending the 3,675 ft. to the summit of Mt Washington takes you through following 4 ecological zones:
- Indigenous (Northern Hardwood) Forest: 2,500 – 3,000 ft.
- Taiga (Boreal) zone: 3,000 – 4,000 ft.
- Sub-alpine (Krummholz) zone: 3,000 – 4,400 ft.
- Alpine zone (Treeline): above 4,400 ft.
PROMINENT FOLIAGE – My Mt Washington Westside Loop
PROMINENT FAUNA – My Mt Washington Westside Loop
- Shrubby cinquefoil
- Alpine grass
- Bog laurel
- Labrador tea
- Mountain avens
- Alpine goldenrod
- Alpine blueberries
- Diapensia (mountain sandwort)
- Robbins’ cinquefoil
- Sphagnum moss
PROMINENT WILDLIFE – My Mt Washington Westside Loop
- Black bear
- White tail deer
- Gray squirrel
- Eastern chipmunk
- Red fox
- Grey jay
- Bicknell’s Thrush
- Blue jay
- Black-capped chickadee
- Bald eagle
SPECIAL NOTE – My Mt Washington Westside Loop
More than a fair share of hikers have died from exposure in the Presidential Range and Mt. Washington has the dubious title of the most dangerous small mountain in the world. Be prepared and train for your hike. Visit hikesafe.com for more information on how to plan for an extreme weather hike. Insect borne illnesses warnings are abundant with Lyme disease being the most serious threat to hikers. Read up on how to protect yourself from this by reading the New Hampshire Tick-borne Disease Bulletin.
IMAGE GALLERY – My Mt Washington Westside Loop
I got up at first light to have a light breakfast and got to the Cog Railway entrance around 7:30 am. I paid $5 to park in the Hiker Parking lot and made my way to the Ammonoosuc Trailhead.
I started my ascent at the Ammonoosuc Trailhead around 7:40 am. It was a fairly easy trek, and great warm up, to the Gem Pool. After that, the trail got steeper and the weather got wetter as I hiked into the clouds.
I got to the top of the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail around 8:40 am and connected with the Crawford Path. This historical path is the oldest hiking trail in the United States and part of the Appalachion Trail.
I reached the summit around 9:50 am and, after a customary photo, made my way to the Sherman Adams Building to warm up, grab a bite, and use the facilities. The museum and gift shop are also worth noting and visiting.
At 10:50 am I layered up and began my descent down Trinity Height Connector. While this was the shortest segment of my hike, the visibility was the worst on the hike (about 10 ft.) and I had to carefully pick my way down the loose and slippery rocks.
It took me about 20 min. to reach the Gulfside Trail and the going got easier as the trail crossed the Cog Rail tracks and skirted the ridgeline.
Hiking another 30 min. brought me to the top of Jewell Trail and the last leg of my loop.
Around 12:50 pm I reached Marshfield Base Station and wrapped up this most excellent hike where I started at the Mt Washington Hotel Scenic Overlook.
VIDEOS -My Mt Washington Westside Loop
While a picture speaks a thousand words, it could not express the brilliant solitude of hiking through the clouds; BUT this video can.
Thanks for checking out My Mt Washington Westside Loop. It was a bucket list hike for me and I’m glad the weather cooperated (as best it did) so I could make the summit. If you’re looking for a truly varied and unique hike in New Hampshire, I suggest you try it. A little planning will go a long way to making the most of this hike. Remember to plan for some extreme weather. Enjoy the journey!
HIKING QUOTE OF THE DAY
Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.