The Perch Shelter and Campsite

The Perch Shelter - Randolph Mountain Club

The Perch Shelter – Randolph Mountain Club

Last weekend, I spend a night at The Perch Shelter and Campsite located on Mt Adams in the Northern Presidential Range of the White Mountains. It’s located between the Israel Ridge Trail and Randolph Path, on the north face of Mt Adams, just below treeline at about 4,300 feet. The slope of Adams is still steep enough here that the shelter and campsites look like they are perched on the side on the mountain.

The shelter is an 8 person, Adirondack style log cabin with a modern tin roof. Its front entrance is pointed away from the westerly winds which can really blow up here. In addition, there are four wooden platforms where campers can pitch a tent or tarp, as well as a composting toilet. There is a $7 fee per person per night, which is collected by a caretaker around sundown.

The water source is spring-fed Cascade Brook, located about 50 yards from the front of the shelter. The water is very very cold and comes straight out of the mountain. Most people don’t treat it but it’s not officially listed as “safe.”

The Perch Campsite Platforms

The Perch Campsite Platforms

When I stayed there in mid-June, the place was pretty full with only one free camping platform. While camping on platforms sucks, there is very little choice this high up. The forest is very dense, even this close to treeline, and finding a stealth site would be nearly impossible unless you were willing to string a hammock on a 40+ degree inclined slope. If you’ve ever tried to this, it can be  challenging, if not outright comic.

Of the four camping platforms, there’s one high up the side of the hill and much more private than the rest. There was a camper already occupying it when I arrived, so I pitched my tarp on the next one down. I crashed before sundown at about 8 pm, but woke up around 1 am to check out the stars. You can only see a view like this from the side of a tall peak on a clear night. It was spectacular, and platforms or not, I’ll be camping out at The Perch again.

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  1. The Perch was my alternate choice for my recent trip to the Whites. I stayed at Grey Knob instead. I wanted some relief from the black flies, and didn't feel like spending alot of time zipped up in my tent…

  2. I suppose the big advantage of the platform is when it rains very hard you don't get flooded out?

  3. No – it's try to prevent overuse of the tent site and to get people to only camp in a certain spot and not wherever they like. As you can imagine, the alpine environment up here is very fragile. I hate platforms, but I respect what they're trying to accomplish – i.e. herding.

  4. As a West Coaster, I'm fascinated by all these shelters and MAINTAINED TRAILS on the East Coast. Is it all just volunteers?

    • The shelters are great and all, but the whites do not have easy trails. They are maintained, but the primary strategy seems to move rocks from the woods around the trails, to the trail itself. You don’t know the trails in the whites till you have hiked them.

      • Jackson, I totally concur. Before my lone trip to the Whites, I read, “The trails are rocky.” “OK”, so I thought, “Most trails I’ve been on have rocks in them.” I didn’t realize until I started hiking there that the aforementioned rocks are ubiquitous and range in size from ice box to ice palace. The trails also haven’t emplaced what must be a western invention, the switchback. They path straight up the mountainsides, coursing through the steepest, rockiest, most boulder strewn routes possible to the top.

        It’s awesome!

  5. Mostly. There is one paid crew in all of New Hampshire. The rest is volunteers thanks to forest service budget cuts. Many of the maintained trails arose historically but also help keep the forests and mountains from being overrun. But there's nothing keeping people on the trails in the national forests/parks and you can bushwhack if you want to and have thick skin.

  6. Heh, that's one more than WA has. It's likely in another century there will be such things here too.

  7. I forgot to mention that the paid crew is funded by a hiking club, The Appalachian Mountain Club, and NOT the forest service.

    • This Shelter is actually run by the Randolph Mountain Club, not the AMC.

      • Jamison makes a good point worths re-emphasizing as well as a corection. The Perch is maintains by the RMC and there are two paid crews in the Northern Presidentials – The AMC and the RMC. Everyone else is a volunteer (as far as I know).

  8. Thanks Earlylite, nice review. I liked it so much I will be Heading up soon. Looks awesome!

  9. After reading about your review of this location, had to check it out . Went up the friday before hurrican "Irene" Had a wonderfull hike in via the Israel Ridge Trail.The weather was perfect. We were informed that the WMNF would be closed at six pm Saturday due to the storm . So we spent the night ,it was delightfull. The next day we summited Mt Adams and decended on the Lowes Path.

  10. I'm glad you got a hike in this weekend – that's a nifty site. Really sets you up well for all kinds of northern presi peaks and it's a great place to contemplate Adams.

  11. Update: The tenting fee is now $15 per person—unless you pay the $30 fee for individual membership in the RMC, in which case the tenting fee is $8 pp.

  12. We are thinking of staying at the perch mid-week, September 27 or 28. I know its first come first serve. Does it often fill up?

    • Yep. We’re in a lull now in terms of hiker traffic, so you might get lucky. I’d still get there reasonably early, like 3pm to claim a spot since there are only like 5 platforms and they’re only putting one group on each during Covid.

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