Score a New England hat trick with one of the best mountain-top views in the Presidential Range, one of New Hampshire’s tallest waterfalls, and two summit climbs—all in one 6.9-mile loop. Bonus: For the effort of an extra 2.6-mile round-trip from mile 4.3, make this an overnighter with a stay at the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Mizpah Spring Hut or the Nauman Tentsite next door, both north of Jackson’s summit.
DO IT From the Webster-Jackson trailhead, hike east. Plan to make side trips to two overlooks in the first mile of trail, Elephant Head (.2 mile one-way) and Bugle Cliff (50 yards), for views of the steep wooded mountainsides of Crawford Notch. Back on trail, pass the 30-foot Silver Cascade Falls at mile 1.1. From the summit of Mt. Webster .9 mile later, take the Webster Cliff Trail (also part of the Appalachian Trail) northwest toward Jackson, and scramble up granite slabs along the final stretch to Jackson’s summit and unobstructed views of Mt. Washington and the Pemigewasset Range. Gray jays frequent the summit in summer, plying hikers for food. The 3.3-mile Jackson branch of the Webster-Jackson Trail drops south back to the trailhead; a 1.3-mile hike to the north leads to Mizpah Spring Hut.
CLIMBING MAGAZINE RECOMMENDS Take the hardman winter mountaineering route to the summit of Mt. Webster, with 2,500 vertical feet of snow, ice, rock, and mixed climbing on the 5.6 WI3 Greens Chasm.
GET THERE From Boston, take I-93 north for 140 miles to US 3. Go 10.5 miles east to Twin Mountain and turn right onto US 302. Drive 8.5 miles to trailhead parking just past Saco Lake.
GUIDEBOOK Hiking New Hampshire, by Larry Pletcher ($17, falcon.com)
MAP USGS quad Crawford Notch
PERMITS None, but for Mizpah Spring Hut, reserve a spot at least two months in advance ($121 per person, per night; outdoors.org/lodging). Or call (603) 466-2727 for last-minute openings. Nauman Tentsite has seven platforms, first-come, first-served ($8).
CONTACT (603) 447-5448; fs.fed.us/r9/white
TRIP DATA backpacker.com/hikes/websterjackson
ELEVATIONS 3,911 and 4,052 feet
GAIN 2,152 feet
ROUTE Webster-Jackson Trail
DRIVE 2 hours, 30 minutes