The Appalachian Mountain Club’s White Mountain Guide is the hiker’s bible for planning day hikes and backpacking trips in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest. People come from all around the world to hike, backpack, climb and train for mountaineering expeditions in “The Whites” which are known for their rugged beauty and scenic trails.
In print for 110 years, the new 30th edition of the White Mountain Guide contains descriptions of some 20 new trails that have been added to the over 600 trails, many interconnected, that make up the White Mountains trail system. Dozens of other trail descriptions and directions have also been updated in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene in 2011, which heavily damaged and temporarily closed some trails.
The new guide has also been reformatted with easy-to-read graphic icons so you can quickly see whether a trail is child-friendly, dog-friendly, the type of terrain it crosses, scenic highlights, and the best times of year to hike or snowshoe it.
Each trail description in the guide includes the distance, elevation gain, and estimated time required to hike a trail, in each direction so you can quickly plan hike durations and estimate route difficulty. The trails are also cross referenced with AMC map locations (new this edition) which make it much easier to find the trails in the paper map set included in the boxed edition. (A companion tyvek waterproof 6 map set is also available separately and strongly recommended for carrying on hikes. )
Also new this year is a large format and waterproof map called the White Mountain National Forest and Guide that depicts the entire White Mountain hiking trail system, with the exception of a few very remote outliers. If you only want to carry one map on your hikes, this is the one to bring. It’s a topographic map that shows how all of the trails intersect and includes printed segment mileages so you can see how long they are at a glance. They really did a nice job on it. I bought two.
How to Use the White Mountain Guide
The best way to plan a hike or a backpacking trip in the Whites Mountains is to consult The White Mountain Guide which contains a wealth of information not found on maps of the area. This includes driving instructions to hard-to-find trail heads, historical facts, search and rescue contact information, gear advice, and a wealth of information about the landmarks and views you’ll encounter when you hike along a trail. I often take a photo of the White Mountain Guides’ trail descriptions with my cell phone when I take hikes because they are really useful to refer to on the move, without carrying the “bible” in my backpack.
If you’re new to the Whites or just sampling the most scenic hikes available, the guide lists suggested hikes at the beginning of each chapter. These are labelled and sorted by difficulty and they’re all gems. The guide also lists all the available campsites along the trails and explains any backcountry camping restrictions if backpacking is your thing.
If you’re interested in hiking the White Mountain 4,000 footers or all of the New England 4,000 footers in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine, the White Mountain Guide provides check lists of all the peaks, trail information for climbing them, and detailed information about applying for the 4,000 footer award and patch.
The White Mountain Guide is an essential information source for anyone interested in exploring the hiking trails, peaks, waterfalls, campsites, and ski trails that crisscross the 796,000 acre White Mountain National Forest and hiking trail system. If you own a previous edition, it’s worth updating to the 30th edition which is better structured and easier to reference. If you’re new to the Whites, there’s no better trail guide that’s as comprehensive, up-to-date, and reliable as the White Mountain Guide. Also, be sure to pick up the new waterproof White Mountain National Forest Map which depicts most of the trail system in a single map and is very handy to have on the trail.
Disclosure: The author purchased all of the products described above with his own funds.Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored gear reviews, articles, and hiking guides.