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White Mountain Guide 30th Edition Review

White Mountain Guide 30th Edition
White Mountain Guide 30th Edition

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.

White Mountain Guide 30th Edition

Ease of Use
Map Quality

The Hiker's Bible

The Appalachian Mountain Club's White Mountain Guide is the most comprehensive and in-depth guide to hiking and backpacking in New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest. The guide includes 6 topographic maps for planning hikes and includes detailed driving instructions to get to trailheads.

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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 trailheads, 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 labeled 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 checklists 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.

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  1. So, you are saying that I should probably stop using my 24rh Edition (green cover) that I bought the summer after High School?

    What about the 21st Edition? Last of the hardcovers! (OK, that was my dad’s)

    So is it considered OK to transfer all the dates you hiked certain peaks from one edition to the next?

    Just seems strange that as we get lighter in our gear, the guidebook is turning into a brick. It’s larger than the AT guide book for crying out loud!

    Just Kidding. I’ll likely pick up a copy and the new map sounds great.


    • I still have my 22nd edition (1979). The format was smaller then—6″ x 3.5″ x .75″—and fewer pages. The corners were rounded for pack-toting friendliness. Didn’t think twice about taking them on a hike. Now, i copy the relevant pages and take just those.

      It would be nice if AMC offered an option to get the Guide with the waterproof maps included rather than having to buy them separately.

  2. I just got purchased the book and the waterproof map from Amazon. The map is as good as the one I have from map adventures. The map from AMC actually has the Grafton Notch Loop trail on it. The Guide is very well done.

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