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Backpacker Magazine – February/March 2013

Mountain Map: White Mountains, NH

The Granite State's crown jewel is an epicenter for alpine adventure, from peakbagging to ridgewalking to hut camping. Where to start? In the heart of the Whites, with beta from our map team. Trek across windswept plateaus, tag a handful of the range's 48 peaks above 4,000 feet, and get a taste of high-altitude tundra.

by: Ryan Pinkard

White Mountains (Cartography by Andrew Matranga)
Photo by wash_shaded_445x260.jpg
White Mountains (Cartography by Andrew Matranga)
Carter Range to Wildcat Range (Photo by Tyler Stableford)
Photo by BP0313TRIP_SEAVER_CarterNotchLkS_445x260.jpg
Carter Range to Wildcat Range (Photo by Tyler Stableford)

Mt. Washington Rising to 6,288 feet, the White’s mother massif is rightly popular, thanks to unmatched alpine terrain. Though you could drive or train it to the top, don’t. Instead, earn your “I Climbed Mt. Washington” bumper sticker and grab some (relative) solitude on the way up. On the eastern side, opt for the stiff, 4.1-mile Lion Head Trail, which follows the Tuckerman Ravine Trail 2.3 miles before shooting 2,463 feet up a rocky path. You still get nonstop views of the headwall’s steep glacial cirque, but dodge the traffic. Want waterfalls? Head to the mountain’s western slope for the nine-mile round-trip on the cascade-filled Ammonoosuc Ravine, which passes Gem Pool and the 600-foot tumble formed by Monroe Brook. Overnighters: Bunk at the AMC’s Lakes of the Clouds Hut. Trip ID 2037584 
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Presidential Traverse 
For maximum challenge, do this hallowed 20.5-mile section in a daylong binge (burning 18,000 calories in about 18 hours). Get a dawn start from the Appalachia trailhead. See sunrise atop 5,367-foot Mt. Madison. Book it south, bagging three 4,000-footers and four 5,000-footers en route to Crawford Notch. Calorie up with high-altitude ice cream on.Mt. Washington. Trip ID 775344

Franconia Ridge Loop String together four trails into an 8.2-mile day that speedhikers tackle in less than three hours. In all, knock back three summits above 4,000 feet. Go midweek for more solitude. Trip ID 369193

Carter Range to Wildcat Range Bounce over five 4,000-footers on this 15.4-mile overnight traverse. Start from the Nineteen Mile Brook trailhead and hike 8.9 miles over Carter Dome. Scope Mt. Washington in the west. (Crash at the Carter Notch Hut and swim in nearby ponds). Day two starts with an 1,100-foot climb of Wildcat Mountain, then ridgeline it to Wildcat Mountain Ski Resort. Finish at Pinkham Notch. Trip ID 399963

Kinsman Mountain Nab side-by-side summits on a 10.1-mile dayhike along a wooded ridge. Start on the Mt. Kinsman Trail under tall pines, passing Bald Peak during the 3.7-mile stretch to Kinsman Pond. Hop on the Kinsman Ridge Trail for a 500-foot climb with views east to Mt. Lafayette. Crest pine-clad North Peak en route to 4,358-foot South Peak, where vistas stretch across windswept Franconia Ridge. Trip ID 399074 
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