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The Terrifying 25: A List of Challenging White Mountain Trails

The Terrifying 25
The Terrifying 25

The Terrifying 25 is a popular list of difficult White Mountains Hiking Trails compiled by Trish Herr, the author of Up! A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure, for her young daughters Alex and Sage. They enjoy hiking through boulder caves, rocky scrambles, and traversing avalanche slides, which are well represented by this list.

The rules for hiking this list are pretty simple. You need to hike 20 trails on the Required list and 5 more trails from the Electives List. It just so happens that I’ve hiked all of them, but you don’t have to go to such extremes if you don’t want to. There is also a patch (shown above) awarded to people who finish this list, which is much coveted by hard-core White Mountain hikers.  Click for the complete set of rules and award information.

Required Trails (Pick 20)

Baldface Circle Trail11/15/14
Caps Ridge Trail9/15/12
Carter Ledge Trail11/14/15
Castle Trail6/19/11
Chemin des Dames7/2/17
Flume Slide Trail6/28/14
Great Gulf Trail8/3/15
Great Gully Trail7/2/17
Huntington Ravine Trail8/20/16
Ice Gulch Path9/1/15
King Ravine Trail6/21/17
Madison Gulf Trail7/3/17
Mount Morgan Trail (ladder route)5/11/16
Mount Percival Trail (cave route)5/11/16
North Slide, North Pyramid5/15/16
Six Husbands Trail7/5/17
South Slide, South Pyramid5/15/16
Sphinx Trail7/5/17
Subway (King Ravine Trail)6/25/16
Table Rock Trail, Dixville Notch (from eastern trailhead to ledge)9/30/16

Elective Trails (Pick 5)

Airline Trail7/25/11
Algonquin Trail11/1/15
Beaver Brook Trail7/8/11
Brook Trail7/30/13
Blueberry Ledge Trail3/31/10
Castle Ravine Trail6/22/17
Desolation Trail8/8/14
Devil's Hopyard Trail9/8/12
Goodrich Rock9/12/15
High Cannon Trail9/17/10
Osseo Trail1/24/2010
Percy Peaks Trail11/5/16
Wildcat Ridge Trail (rt 16 to E peak)6/7/09
Willey Range Trail (ladder section to summit)10/4/09
The Terrifying 25 Patch
The Terrifying 25 Patch

Written 2017.

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  1. As someone who doesn’t like heights, I’ve already seen some of those trails and added them to my “do not hike” list. Precipice trail in Acadia is about as scary as I ever want to do.

    • Precipice and Bee hive are sketchy, I do loove the Acadia hiking though. I also took the trail up Jordan Cliffs up once to Sargent, and it had a few iron rung hold ons. skirting some steep death drops. Not so bad alone, but having my wife with me, I could not help but be more nervous watching her. Another tough one was Dudley Trail down off of Pamola Peak in Baxter. sooooo steep, lot of bum sliding. Never again.

  2. What about Owl’s Head Slide?

    • Not exactly terrifying. If you fall off it, you land on a bush along the side of the trail. Most people, it’s sad to say, bushwhack around it.

      • I agree with Aimee. I’ve done a lot of the T25 and only Huntington’s and Flume Slide might have been worse than Owl’s Head Slide (haven’t done King’s Ravine or most of the others in that area). Now, I did try (failed less than 1/10 mile from the bushwhack) Owl’s Head in winter and under squall conditions and it was treacherous and impossible to follow even with GPS. There were no bushes to fall into – lol. I’m planning on going back this summer and maybe my opinion will change. I still think it has to be harder than some on the list.

  3. Any effort to get a similar list for ADK? Always wondering want interesting and exposed trails I’m missing in northern NY!

    • It’d have to be locally sourced.

      • I have completed all 46 peaks in the Adriondacks. These are the ones that comes to my mind
        Saddleback from Basin. Or worse (in my opinion going down, on the way to Basin). We barely made it to the top and safety before a quick moving thunderstorm rolled through. We had to help a couple, who was not prepared, to go down safely with overnight packs.

        The trail in between Algonquin and Iroquois from Lake Colden is steep.

        The trap Dyke up Colden. Some people would probably consider it rock climbing.

        Panther Gorge to Haystack maybe?

        If you don’t like heights, the cables on Gothics may be a little unsettling.

    • Check out the 29er and 29er Jr.

  4. I just went DOWN Madison Gulf trail today and it was super steep and wet. Very challenging. The Star Lake trail is also a strangely eerie and steep slide with a chute at summit of Adams that I would recommend for the list

  5. Has anyone considered the Holt Trail on Cardigan? It’s pretty sketchy for the last .3 mi.

  6. The Webster Cliffs trail looks terrifying, but then again this is a “Nope” list for me who is scared of heights.

  7. Half Dome–it’s in the White [Knuckle] Mountains…

  8. Does starting at Lost Pond Trail to Wildcat Ridge “count”? Or, is crossing Glen Ellis river a mandatory part of the trail? I realize it’s an elective, and any list that includes Huntington Ravine as a mandatory hike isn’t one I’m likely to finish anytime soon!

    The terrifying elements weren’t too terrifying–more fun than anything, though, overall trail was a tiring afternoon!

  9. Phew. :-) I mean, I could end up there again someday with my 12yo, but it’s nice to know it’s easily remedied. Perhaps we’ll start there on our way to Isolation. Thanks!!

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