One of the first things you’ll discover about hiking all 653 trails in the AMC’s White Mountains Guide is that a lot of them are not on the AMC White Mountain National Forest Map Set that the AMC sells to go with the book. Some of the trails aren’t even in the White Mountain National Forest, but it’s still customary to hike them because they’ve been mentioned in the text.
First and foremost, you want to buy a copy of the latest, 30th edition of the AMC White Mountain Guide. It has very accurate driving directions to get to every roadside trailhead. The White Mountain Guide does not currently publish GPS coordinates for these trailheads, and even if it did, Google Maps would probably get you lost because many of them are down seasonal, gated, logging, or private roads that the Google mapping bot never visits or doesn’t list as existing. I actually own two copies of the White Mountain Guide and keep one at home for planning and one in the car for directions.
I would also recommend buying the Delorme New Hampshire Gazetteer and the Delorme Maine Gazetteer because they have good maps of all of the backcountry roads and information about campsites and other recreational opportunities that are not listed on hiking maps. Depending on where you live, it may take you 5 hours to drive to some of the far-flung trailheads in Northern New Hampshire and you may want to stay for a few days when you head up north. I recommend you keep these Gazetteers in your car too.
The AMC White Mountain Guide has very good trail descriptions. It’s worth reading these carefully before any hike you take so you avoid any nasty surprises, like finding out that the day hike you planned has many more thousand feet of elevation gain or tough water crossings that you weren’t expecting.
Here are the paper maps which many White Mountains Hikers accumulate as they work through the trail list:
- AMC White Mountains Map Set
- Hanover, NH Town Trail Maps
- Randolph Mountain Club’s Randolph Valley and Northern Peaks of the Presidential Range Trail Map
- Chatham Trails Association Trail Map
- WODC Trail Map and Guide to the Sandwich Range Wilderness
- Cross Rivendell Trail Maps
- Shelburne Trail Club Hiking Map
- Grafton Loop Trail Map
- Grafton Notch State Park and Mahoosuc Public Lands (great map)
- Weeks State Park Map
- Red Hill Conservation Area Map
- West Rattlesnake Mt Trails
GPS Apps w/ Maps
Many White Mountains hikers like to carry GPS Phone apps when hiking in order to find trails, stay on them, and record a track for future reference. They’re particularly helpful for some of the more obscure trails you’ll encounter and in winter, when trails are covered with snow and trail blazes are buried. Map quality varies across these apps, so you can’t trust them absolutely, especially when the trail maps are crowdsourced by users.
- Gaia GPS: Contains many different maps including USGS, Historic USGS, USFS, and other licensed maps. Overall fairly current. Annual subscription.
- Guthooks Guide, New England Hiker: Very accurate and current because they’ve been mapped by White Mountains hikers (including Arlette Laan) carrying GPS units. These maps include water source information which is very helpful on long hikes and backpacking trips. Fantastic for winter use. One time subscription fee (not annual). Priced by region.
- Avenza Maps: GPS-encoded version of the 2017 AMC White Mountains Mapset. $5.99 per map. One time fee. Purchase in app.
Route Planning Tools
Route planning tools can come in very handy for comparing different routes in terms of distance and elevation gain, especially when planning loops. If you’re not familiar with these tools, you might want to add them to your skillset.
- Caltopo: Free online planning tool with a variety of free authoritative and crowdsourced maps. Good for plotting estimated mileage and elevation gain. You can also create GPS-encoded maps with it that can be imported and used by the Avenza Maps app.
- Garmin BaseCamp: Mainly used by Garmin GPS users. Free to download. Maps cost extra.