Starting at the highest trailhead in the White Mountains, this 6.6-mile loop bags the third-highest peak in the Northeast and takes in two of the most scenic ridges in the Presidentials-Ridge of the Caps and the Castellated Ridge. It's also the shortest route up a 5,000-footer. From the Jefferson Notch Road south From the Jefferson Notch Road south of US 2, ascend the Caps Ridge Trail; return via the Castle Trail and the Link.
drive time: Boston: 3 hours
guides:New England Hiking, by Michael Lanza ($20). AMC's map Presidential Range (800-262-4455; www.backpacker.com/mapstore; $8).
contact: White Mountain National Forest, (603) 528-8721; www.fs.fed.us/r9/white