2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – August 2003

New Hampshire: The Great Gulf Wilderness

Here is your chance to tag six summits in only 3 days.

by: Mike Lanza

Your mission: Tag the six tallest summits in the White Mountains in 3 days and 13,000 feet of uphill: Washington (6,288 feet), Adams (5,799 feet), Jefferson (5,716 feet), Clay (5,533 feet), Monroe (5,372 feet), and Madison (5,366 feet).

Your basecamp: The perfect spot for Presidential peakbaggers is on The Bluff, a saddle on the edge of the 5,552-acre Great Gulf wilderness, which holds the largest glacial cirque in the Northeast.

Day 1: Bag the big one first >>> If the weather looks good, tick off Washington today, because it may be in clouds tomorrow. Follow the Great Gulf Trail past numerous cascades to your first test piece: the steep, rocky Great Gulf headwall. Then connect to the Gulfside Trail and Crawford Path, which provide a back-door route across tundra to Washington's summit-aka "The Rockpile"-and down to the jewel-like Lakes of the Clouds. From Lakes, it's a short climb to Monroe's cresting-wave-like summit. Return to camp via the Alpine Garden (14 miles round-trip).

Day 2: Climb hard, escape the crowds >>> Set the alarm on your altimeter watch, because today is a whopper: 10.2 miles, 4,000 feet elevation gain, and a trail that feels decidedly off-trail. Scramble up the Six Husbands, a path avoided by most hikers because it's super-steep (ascending ladders in spots) and rugged. Tag Jefferson's crown, then continue south to Mt. Clay and its commanding view of the Great Gulf and northern Presidentials. Drop back toward camp via the bouldery, challenging Sphinx Trail.

Day 3: Finish high and strong >>> For a knee-weakening grand finale, the Madison Gulf Trail climbs straight up to tiny Star Lake. To reach Mt. Adams, boulder-hop the little-traveled Star Lake Trail. Then descend to Madison Hut for a much-deserved break to refuel. One more boulder hop to Madison's summit, then down the Osgood Trail, where you can see all the peaks and valleys your boots touched this week. Back at camp, cook a big dinner. You've earned it.

getting there: Hike the Great Gulf Trail from NH 16, reaching The Bluff campsite at 2.7 miles, just before the junction with the Osgood Cutoff.

guide: AMC White Mountain Guide, 27th edition ($23).

contact: White Mountain National Forest, (603) 466-2721;

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: -


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Trailhead Register
Your favorite backpacking photo
Posted On: Aug 22, 2014
Submitted By: Echo
Trailhead Register
Stick is fine
Posted On: Aug 22, 2014
Submitted By: JasonG75
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions