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Burn After Reading

Empty White Mountain summits. Tourist-free Yellowstone geysers. Rarely hiked Yosemite ridges. Rangers, guidebook writers, outfitters, and ultra-hikers dish their favorite routes for the first time.

WHITE MOUNTAIN NATIONAL FOREST, NH
Your guide: 
David Govatski, a 30-year fire and aviation management officer in the U.S. Forest Service and obsessive White Mountain hiker.

Day: Mts. Webster, Jackson, and Pierce  
Get all-to-yourself ridgeline vistas. 

Govatski is not tired of this circuit even after 317 laps and counting—an average of nearly once a month since 1984. But it’s no wonder, given the reliable solitude and front row views of the Presidential Range from three open summits. Govatski’s prize perch, though, is “a ledge just west of Mt. Webster with a view of Crawford Notch 2,000 feet below. Not many see it from this perspective.” From the Crawford Path trailhead on US 302, walk .1 mile south along the highway to the Webster-Jackson Trail. Link it with the Webster Cliff Trail and Crawford Path for a
9.6-mile loop.

Weekend+: Pemigewasset Wilderness Loop  
Score no-city-in-sight views.

This wilderness area is a place Govatski refers to as “the vast, lonely heart of the Whites” for how little-trafficked it is. From the first night’s campsite at Stillwater Junction (8.9 miles from Lincoln Woods trailhead), stroll five miles, out-and-back, to 4,700-foot Mt. Carrigain on “one of the least-used trails in the system,” the Desolation Trail. Camp two lies just east of Shoal Pond (often glassy, always swimmable). Spend night three at Guyot Campsite. But this is all just prelude to a final-day traverse of Mt. Bond and Bondcliff and their non-stop, backbone-of-the-world views stretching from the Presidentials to Franconia Ridge. Connect the Lincoln Woods, Wilderness, Shoal Pond, Ethan Pond, Zeacliff, Twinway, and Bondcliff Trails for a 35.3-mile loop.

Week: Appalachian Trail from Kinsman Notch to Pinkham Notch 
Bag the Northeast’s classic traverse.

Question: What’s the greatest life-list trek in a region littered with them? Govatski’s instant answer: this 70-miler. “It delivers the most challenging backpack journey in the state, with long stretches above treeline. It visits historic mountain huts and high-elevation lakes. You’ll see alpine plants and fragile tundra. And several stretches have surprisingly light usage, such as the Kinsman Ridge, Ethan Pond, and Twinway Trails.” The first three days cross Franconia Ridge, Garfield Ridge, and South Twin Mountain, each with big vistas. Days four and five bring cliff-walled Zealand Notch, and a night at bucolic Ethan Pond. Wrap it up with a two-day traverse of the Pressies. PRO Map to order a custom topo map of this trip printed on waterproof expedition paper.

Maps AMC White Mountain Guide ($25, outdoors.org)
Contact (603) 536-6100; fs.usda.gov/whitemountain

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