Terrain By State: New Hampshire

New Hampshire Mt ClayThe highlight of the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire is the beautiful, rugged White Mountains, the dramatic scenery of which attracts more backcountry visitors than any other part of the Trail. Travel here requires intelligent planning and ample time; plan no more than five to eight miles per day. Be prepared for steep ascents and descents that require the use of your hands and, occasionally, the seat of your pants.

Much of the Trail is above timberline, where the temperature may change very suddenly; snow is possible in any season. The same severe weather conditions that prevent trees from growing on the high ridges also require a higher level of preparedness for a safe, successful hiking trip. Snow falls on Mt. Washington during every month of the year. High winds and dense fog are common. Most shelters and campsites charge a fee.

The White Mountains section stretches 117 miles from Maine-New Hampshire state line to Glencliff, New Hampshire. Organized groups can reduce their chances of arriving at already-crowded sites by contacting the local trail clubs about group voluntary registration programs.

Between the White Mountains and the Vermont border, the Trail crosses broken terrain of alternating mountains and valleys. This 44-mile stretch is noted for its fall foliage and is a good alternative to the crowds and steep scrambles of the Whites.

Difficulty Ratings for A.T. Sections

Because the A.T. spans a great variety of terrain, ranging from relatively flat and easy, to extremely difficult, the following scale was created as a general guide:

1 = Flat and smooth
2 = Flat terrain but uneven treadway, or slight elevation change
3 = Moderate elevation change, but well graded trail, or flat trail with very rough treadway
4 = Strenuous climbs, but of moderate duration, or short but steep climbs
5 = Lengthy graded climbs, alternating with easier sections
6 = Extended climbs that may last hours or shorter climbs with difficult footing
7 = Includes rock scrambling that is relatively easy and of short duration
8 = Includes rock scrambling that is somewhat challenging
9 = Rock scrambling that is difficult and extended
10 = Use of hands required for extended periods of climbing, footing precarious, and leaping may be required — not recommended for those with fear of heights and not in good physical condition. Shorter hikers may be at a disadvantage

at a Glance
A.T. mileage
160.9 miles
Difficulty rating
8 (range: 1-9)

400—6,288 feet
Appalachian Trail Guide to New Hampshire-Vermont

When to go
The White Mountains: July and August. Southern New Hampshire, between the White Mountains and the Connecticut River: June—September.
Trail clubs
Appalachian Mountain Club
Grafton Notch, Maine, to Kinsman Notch, N.H.

Randolph Mountain Club
Osgood Trail junction and the Castle Ravine Trail in the White Mountain National Forest, N.H.

Dartmouth Outing Club
Kinsman Notch, N.H., to Vt. 12