Hut-to-Hut in the White Mountains, New Hampshire

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 14194A, Supported Trekking


  • Hike the Crawford Path, considered the oldest hiking trail in America
  • Summit Mt. Washington and other 4,000+ footers
  • Enjoy the food, hospitality, and comfort of the High Huts


  • Hearty breakfasts and dinners in the High Huts
  • Hut accommodations


DatesSep 15–20, 2014
StaffMark Nelson

Trip Overview

The Trip

This is a hiking trip for people who want to experience the spectacular high peaks and ridges of the White Mountains in New Hampshire with the clear skies and hints of fall colors of  mid-September. After spending the first night at the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Highlands Center, we’ll spend the next four nights at three High Mountain Huts -- Mizpah, Lakes of the Clouds, and Madison -- while hiking the highest and most beautiful mountains in the Northeast. 

Some of the most thrilling scenery and hiking to be found in the Eastern United States is in the White Mountain National Forest, one of America's most popular public lands, registering more visitors annually than Yellowstone and Yosemite combined. For much of the hike, we will be above tree line in the Alpine Zone, where you will be able to see the “krummholz,” which are knarled and stunted trees that survive wherever there is a bit of shelter from the violent winds, and the tiny flowers, some of which are extremely rare. The flora is most similar to that of the eastern Canadian Arctic and coastal barrens.

The area features many natural wonders, including magnificent rock formations, Flume Gorge, waterfalls, swimming holes, vast forests, spectacular open vistas, and high peaks and ridges. Among the high peaks are the highest mountains in the Northeast, the Presidential Range, culminating in the bare granite summit of Mount Washington (6,288 feet), “Home of the World’s Worst Weather.”

We will stay in the High Huts in the White Mountains. The huts provide delicious and hearty breakfasts and dinners, fantastic views, and bunk rooms. These are wonderful mountain refuges at the end of each day.


Please be aware that our itinerary is very dependent upon the weather. Inclement weather could result in changes to the itinerary.

Day 1: Participants will park their cars at the Appalachia Parking Lot and then be shuttled to the Highland Center. We will meet at the Highland Center to get to know each other, check our gear, and discuss the trip. We will have dinner at the Highland Center and enjoy a presentation on the White Mountain region.

Day 2: We hike 5.4 miles from Highland Center (1,910 feet) to Mizpah Hut (3,800 feet), summiting Mt. Webster (3,910 feet) and Mt. Jackson (4,052 feet) along the way.

Day 3: From the Mizpah Hut, we will hike five miles via the Appalachian Trail to the Crawford Path/AT and peak Mt. Pierce (4,312 feet), Mt Eisenhower (4,760 feet), and Mt. Monroe (5,732 feet). We will end the day at the Lakes of the Clouds Hut (5,012 feet). This will be our first day above tree line in the Alpine Zone. If time and weather allow, we will summit Mt. Washington (6,288 feet), three miles round trip.

Day 4: We will layover at the Lakes of the Clouds Hut and explore the Alpine Gardens Trail.

Day 5: We will leave the Lakes of the Clouds Hut on the Crawford Path/AT and then we will join the Gulfside Trail/AT, traveling 7.3 miles along open ridges and rock fields. Weather permitting, we will summit Mt. Jefferson (5,712 feet) and Mt. Adams (5,774 feet) on our way to the Madison Hut (4,800 feet).

Day 6: On the last day, we will exit our trip via the Valley Way Trail to the Appalachia Parking lot to say our goodbyes and wish everyone a safe trip home. If all goes well, we should be at the parking lot by 2:00 p.m.



Getting There

We will park their cars at the Appalachia Parking lot, which is the end point for our trip.  An AMC shuttle will take us to the Highland Center for our pre-trip meeting and dinner. (The cost of the shuttle is included in the trip.) Detailed driving instructions will be provided to participants.  (The Appalachia Parking Lot is located about 170 miles from Boston; about 360 miles from New York City; about 124 miles from Burlington; about 103 miles from Concord, NH.)  

Accommodations and Food

On the first night we will stay at the Highland Center at Crawford Notch.  We will be served a hearty, family-style, four-course dinner, with a hot & cold breakfast buffet the next morning before we leave.  On the following nights, we will stay in three of the Appalachian Mountain Club's (AMC) eight beautiful High Mountain Huts, a highlight of the White Mountains. Each hut offers co-ed bunkroom accommodations, bathrooms with cold running water, and one-of-a-kind views! Lights in the common areas run on propane gas or solar power (bring flashlights or headlamps). There are no linens, heat, or showers, but there are blankets and a pillow for each guest. You should bring a sheet sack/bag liner and pillowcase, or a light sleeping bag if you wish. Enclosed gender-specific washrooms have cold running water -- you may want to bring a camp towel or washcloth.

The food in the huts, which is prepared by experienced cooks, is exceptional -- hearty, plentiful, nutritious, and delicious. Vegetarian options are always available. Participants will supply their own lunches and trail snacks; the leaders will be happy to offer suggestions.

Trip Difficulty

This trip is rated 4, as hiking in the White Mountains is always challenging, but worth the effort. The trails tend to go straight up the mountains, with rocks, tree roots, rivulets of water (many are stream beds), and mud being part of the experience. In some cases, as we summit peaks, you will need to use your hands to negotiate rocks and ledges.  If you have hiked only on graded trails, such as in Virginia or many places in the West, it is important for you to know that hiking in the northeast is quite a bit harder. You should be in very good physical condition and prepared to hike at least eight miles with 3,000 feet of elevation gain in a day.  Safety is paramount and we will always need to be prepared for rain, high winds, and cool to cold weather. These are serious mountains, and people do get lost and injured through lack of awareness of the dangers involved. Winter-like conditions can occur above treeline in any month of the year.  We will need to be prepared for cold weather at any time to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

Equipment and Clothing

You will need comfortable hiking clothes for a wide range of temperatures, well broken-in boots, hiking poles, a full rain suit, a sheet sack and pillowcase (or light sleeping bag), personal toiletries, and a sturdy daypack in which to carry everything. We will provide a detailed clothing and equipment list to confirmed participants. Please note: Only man-made fabrics or wool should be used on this trip; please do not pack cotton.


Log on to or for information about the White Mountains.


The White Mountain National Forest is a managed and multiple-use forest, providing areas for recreation and human enjoyment, as well as wildlife habitat and harvesting of the forest, a renewable resource. Moose, deer, fox, and black bear are abundant, as are more than 180 species of birds.

As on all Sierra Club outings, members are expected to show concern and consideration for the environment and to behave appropriately for members of a conservation organization. We will practice Leave No Trace principles, pack out everything we bring in, recycle everything we can, and hope to be good examples and teachers of conservation practices. On this trip, in particular, where we will spend a good deal of time above timberline, we will take special care to stay on the trail and/or walk on rocks to protect the fragile alpine vegetation.

In 2014 America celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The Sierra Club, various other organizations with a wilderness focus, and the four federal wilderness management agencies are vigorously planning this celebration. The goal of the effort is to assure that a broader public knows about the concept and benefits of wilderness. Sierra Club Outings is a vital part of the celebrations for wilderness.
While the Act was far in the future when our outings program started, we were already promoting the principle behind it: to forever set aside from human developments certain special places, by civic agreement. This is the basic principle on which the Sierra Club was founded. The wilderness anniversary gives us an opportunity to highlight our organization’s leading role—in publicizing this principle, in passing the 1964 Act, and in achieving more designated wilderness since then.

Sierra Club National Outings is an equal-opportunity provider and will operate under a permit from the White Mountain National Forest.



Mark Nelson has been hiking and backpacking for many years and is a lifetime member of the Sierra Club. He enjoys helping others explore the beauty of backcountry areas and learn about the importance of preserving them. When not exploring the great outdoors, Mark is active on not-for-profit boards and the VT Sierra Club Exec Committee, and is a volunteer for the local fire and rescue. In addition to backpacking, Mark enjoys biking, cross-country skiing, and listening to many types of music.


Phil Snyder is an avid hiker and who has explored trails throughout the country for more than 40 years. He is enthusiastic about helping others discover often-overlooked hiking opportunities, primarily in the Southwest and Midwest. When he's not on the trail or a bicycle, Phil is a community volunteer, freelance writer, communications consultant and a certified instructor of motorcycle safety in Appleton, Wisconsin.

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