Tue, Feb 27, 2024
As the administrators of Hike-NH.com, we receive a lot questions from people looking for information on Mt. Washington. People search for trip reports on it, send us mail about hiking it, and even ask us direct questions about it. At first we were concerned that we didn’t have a lot of information about the northeast’s highest peak. Then we read a particular entry on a related discussion board.
The entry in question was from a novice hiker – in fact, someone who had never been hiking before. The question went something like, "if I wanted to hike Mt. Washington with five friends, and none of us have any experience hiking, would Mt. Monadnock be a good place to prepare?" At this point we looked at each other and thought, hmmm, nothing like adding to the body count, huh?
Well, before long, we began to ask ourselves, why in the world is everyone so concerned with hiking Mt. Washington? It’s long, dangerous, not particularly scenic (at least not more so than any other Presidential), the weather is always a factor, and most of all, anyone can drive to the summit so you never gain the peaceful feeling of hiking a summit and looking out over the WMNF. There are hundreds of mountains in NH, most of them safer and all of them less crowded, but people still insist on hiking Washington, presumably because it is the highest peak in the northeast.
Well, we hope to convince you otherwise. As avid hikers in NH, we’ve shied away from this peak (although we hiked it September 1999 for a great cause - click for trip report). In fact, we’ve deliberately avoided Washington for several reasons:
We prefer to plan and hike trails and summits that offer more of the traits that got us hiking in the first place – solitude, scenery, uniqueness, and natural beauty, to name a few. There are endless options for planning trips to other mountains in NH, a few of which are reported on here in the pages of Hike-NH.com. Consider a hike to Arethusa Falls, the highest waterfall in NH, or to Sawyer Pond, a small but gorgeous pond off the Kancamagus, or even to Mt. Cabot, the northern-most 4,000 footer in NH. Our point here is, think a little about the alternatives to Washington. Do you really want to spend your time hiking the Microsoft of NH’s mountains? We all know bigger isn’t necessarily better. Make a hiker’s decision – chose your own hike. And if you’re having problems, drop us a line, we’d be happy to provide you with some suggestions.
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Chris Oberg & Robert Havasy