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Backpacking the White Mountain 4000 Footers: Free Guidebook Announcement

Backpacking the White Mountain 4000 Footers

A funny thing happened to me when I was section hiking the Appalachian Trail through New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest in 2008. I fell in love with the place. That’s an easy thing to do since the New Hampshire AT climbs over or near 25 of the 48 White Mountain 4000 footers, which are some of the highest, most rugged, and glorious mountains on the east coast of the United States. There are hundreds of other mountains to climb New Hampshire, but most people get hooked on the White Mountain 4000 footers first.

I finished the 4000 footer list in 2010 and then went on to climb them again in calendar winter, which is much more difficult. Then I branched out and hiked (redlined) all of the trails in the White Mountain Guide (608 trails / 1440 miles) which is the hiking bible of the region. I hiked a lot of those mountains, trails, and miles on 1-3 day backpacking trips, although I’ve done my fair share of day hiking too. I know the most scenic routes to follow in the White Mountains and look forward to sharing them with you.

  • Washington – 6288′
  • Adams – 5799′
  • Jefferson – 5716′
  • Monroe – 5732′
  • Madison – 5366′
  • Lafayette – 5260′
  • Lincoln – 5089′
  • S. Twin – 4902′
  • Carter Dome – 4832′
  • Moosilauke – 4802′
  • North Twin – 4761′
  • Eisenhower – 4760′
  • Carrigain – 4700′
  • Bond -4698′
  • Middle Carter – 4610′
  • West Bond – 4540′
  • Garfield – 4500′
  • Liberty – 4450′
  • South Carter – 4430′
  • Wildcat – 4422′
  • Hancock – 4420′
  • South Kinsman – 4358′
  • Field – 4340′
  • Osceola – 4340′
  • Flume – 4328′
  • South Hancock – 4319′
  • Pierce – 4312′
  • North Kinsman – 4293′
  • Willey – 4285′
  • Bondcliff – 4265′
  • Zealand -4260′
  • North Tripyramid – 4180′
  • Cabot – 4170′
  • East Osceola – 4156′
  • Middle Tripyramid – 4140′
  • Cannon – 4100′
  • Wildcat D – 4062′
  • Hale – 4054′
  • Jackson – 4052′
  • Tom – 4051′
  • Moriah – 4049′
  • Passaconaway – 4043′
  • Owls Head – 4025′
  • Galehead – 4024′
  • Whiteface – 4020′
  • Waumbek – 4006′
  • Isolation – 4003′
  • Tecumseh – 4003′

Backpacking the White Mountain 4000 footers is a different experience than day hiking them and one that I particularly relish. There’s nothing quite like camping in the Great Gulf and watching the moon rise over the jagged spires of the Northern Presidential range or listening to a cacophony of hooting owls at night deep in the Wild River Wilderness. While parts of the White Mountains are quite popular with day hikers, you can still backpack the 4000 footers and experience solitude. In fact, backpacking the peaks gives you the opportunity to follow routes that can’t be done-in-a-day and experience many wonders of the Whites that most people overlook.

Marvelous swimming hole deep in the Pemigewasset Wilderness
Marvelous swimming hole deep in the Pemigewasset Wilderness

Free Online Guidebook

In the coming months, I plan on publishing a free online guidebook containing a complete series of 1-3 night trip plans for backpacking the White Mountains 4000 footers, along with bonus trips to other White Mountain destinations. Each trip will climb one or more peaks, with routes that include additional scenic vistas, waterfalls, swimming holes, and historic sites. The trip plans will be graded in terms of effort and experience for beginners, experienced, and advanced backpackers and will include maps, GPX tracks, campsites information, and suggested diversions.

I’ll also set up the guidebook in its own area on SectionHiker.com so it’s easy to find and the trip plans are easy to download.

Why free? Call it a labor of love. I’d like to help preserve the White Mountain trail system and its hiking culture by helping visitors appreciate and enjoy the area’s resources in a sustainable and low-impact way. I think the best way to do that is to use my website to distribute a set of backpacking trip plans that anyone can use. People don’t buy paperback guidebooks anymore and a lot of the backpacking clubs that used to exist have been killed off by social media. If your trip plans aren’t free, updated regularly, instantly accessible online, and GPS-enabled, no one’s going to use them.

Some of the first trip plans that will be published include:

  • A North Twin, South Twin, Zealand, and Hale Loop
  • A Madison, Adams, and Jefferson Loop
  • A Moriah, Middle Carter, South Carter, Carter Dome Loop

Backpacking the White Mountains is a great way to climb the 4000 footers and enjoy the fantastic scenery and history of this unique region.

If you’d like to be notified when new trip plans are published, please subscribe below:



Written 2018.

18 comments

  1. Thanks so much for putting your time, experience, and caring into this project. As someone who has only been to the White Mountains twice, yet feels the magical pull of its ridges and peaks, this guidebook will definitely be something that I watch with interest and will use to plan future trips to the area (hopefully frequent, and soon)!

  2. This is a really cool project. It’s very difficult to find information on short backpacking trips for the Whites outside of the AT and the Pemi.

    I’m looking forward to your work.

  3. Thanks Philip. Sounds like your guide will be invaluable. Really looking forward to seeing it come out. Plan on going to the Whites this spring.

  4. I have to retire soon, because my list of must-do hikes is getting longer and longer, especially with this just added!

  5. I’m super excited about these guides! I’m in Canada, not too far from the border and there aren’t that many destinations that make for good backpacking loops. This is all within decent driving distance. Thank you so much!

  6. Thank you Philip. I’m looking forward to reading your routes.

    David

  7. Great idea, Philip.

  8. Thanks Philip,

    While I don’t get to the Whites as often as I’d like, this guide will help me plan and be more successful when I do.

  9. Looking forward to seeing this guide. Thanks for creating it Philip. I enjoy day hiking in the Whites, but would like to try backpacking, and the 1-3 night range is perfect.

  10. Philip,

    My wife and I had a short holiday around North Conway a couple of years ago and will be back this autumn and look forward to walking up some of your 4,000 ft hills. Coming from Scotland where we only have six hills that high, your hills have lots of scope. One thing that we would find useful is knowing which of your hikls have good views. We find continually walking through trees a little frustrating! Looking forward to seeing your guide though, keep up the good work, much appreciated.

    David Myatt

    • Just finishing up my first trip plan and went back and put some view point icons on the map. These views will blow you away! Good suggestion. And look me up when you come to North Conway next. We should have a “stroll” and then some craic at one of our pubs.

  11. Hi Philip! I grew up in PA just below the AT where it crosses Clark’s Valley, near the Dehart Dam in St Anthony’s Wilderness. I’ve been section-hiking various parts of the trail in PA, Maine, NJ and NC, but plan to do a full hike after my daughter graduates high school in a few years. Your blogs, as well as reviews of equipment, have become a favorite in my email inbox. Thank you for all of the work you put into this. It’s obviously a labor of love!

    Quick question for you and anyone else that wants to chime in: I’m considering doing my hike from north to south, preferring the solitude. Was wondering if you would recommend this or have any thoughts on it. Thanks!!

  12. Thanks, Phiip. I’ll be tackling most of the Presidential Range in September. Staying in huts, not backpacking, but I’m looking forward to your guidebook.

  13. Terrific idea Philip! A much-needed resource. I look forward to it.

  14. Phil, You’re awesome!
    I am envious, I want you job, and I’m not saying that because its easy, just that its better than mine.
    Who among our group of outdoor and wilderness lovers, would not want to be a National or State Park Ranger, or Wilderness Guide?
    Thanks for all your work to help us enjoy our outdoor things, even when we are stuck behind this damn desk. Keep On Truckin!

  15. Very excited about this. I live in Bar Harbor and have little experience with NH. Moving to Portland this year and looking forward to exploring the Whites!

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