Once you finish hiking the White Mountain 4000 footers, what list can you tackle next? While there are a lot of peakbagging lists across the White Mountains and New England to choose from, one of the hardest is Redlining the AMC White Mountain Guide.
The goal of redlining is to hike all 1440 miles of trails, a total of 608 trails, listed in the White Mountain Guide, something that takes most people years and years to complete. Redlining all these trails would be a lot easier if they were contiguous like the Appalachian Trail, but they’re not. Instead, they’re all over the place, including many outside the White Mountain National Forest. If you redline, you’ll hike trails on the US/Canadian Border, in the Nash Stream Forest, in western New Hampshire, southern Maine, and New Hampshire’s Lake District.
How hard is it? It’s hard. Really hard, and arguably harder than hiking The Grid (the 48 x 12 months) because there’s so much travel required, the climate makes it impossible to hike year round, and you’ll end up hiking way more than 1440 miles to complete the list. Way more, because you have to hike some trails out and back, or hike the same ones repeatedly to get to the more remote trails that they cross. You also can’t skip the most terrifying or difficult trails up the highest peaks. You have to hike them all.
Why do it? People redline for all kinds of reasons. Some like the variety, others the constant stream of novel hikes and new regions that you get to explore. There’s also a very supportive community of redliners, people who’ve completed and are still working on the list, who help each other with trail beta and advice.
How do you start? If you’ve been peakbagging in the White Mountains or hiking the trail system, it’s best to download the current White Mountain Guide Redlining Workbook and catalog the trails you’ve completed so far. Be sure to keep track of the portions of trails you haven’t hiked, even if they’re as short as 0.1 miles, because you’ll have to go back and hike them. These short segments are called chads by redliners (like hanging chads) and they’re one of the reasons why you’ll hike a lot more than 1440 miles to complete the Redlining list. Buy the AMC White Mountain Guide if you don’t already own it. You’ll need directions to the trail heads. And get a GPS phone app like New England Hiker which has routes for most of the trails in the Whites, so you can find them and stay on them while hiking, since many are pretty obscure and poorly blazed.
- Download the White Mountains Redlining Spreadsheet
- Buy the latest AMC White Mountain Guide
- Get a GPS App like New England Hiker or download GPS routes from the AMC White Mountain Guide Online.
Can you backpack the trails?
Absolutely. I’ve redlined hundred of miles by backpacking trails and think it’s the best way to cover a lot of ground. But you can also day hike the trails, ski, or snowshoe them in winter. You can’t cycle them though. You have to hike them all on foot at least once.
What are the rewards? Unlike the AMC 4000 footers, there’s not a lot of fanfare when you finish redlining the White Mountain Guide, there’s no official organization that oversees the trail list, no awards ceremony, no certificate, and little public recognition. The rewards are very personal. You’ll experience immense satisfaction at knowing you’ve completed one of the toughest trail hiking lists in the New England and broadened your skills in the process. You’ll also become an expert on hiking in the Whites and be able to recommend great routes for friends.
How many people have finished? Since 1991, 37 people have finished redlining the AMC White Mountain Guide. (I was #36 in 2017)
What’s left to hike after you finish? Redlining the White Mountain Guide exposes you to many trail systems outside of the White Mountains, including many trails not listed in the guide. Plus, you’ll be able to go back and hike trails on the list again that you really liked, but in better conditions if they sucked the first time through. I think you’ll be surprised how long your to-do list grows as you get closer to finishing the Redlining list. The on-trail and off-trail hiking opportunities in the Northeastern United States are virtually limitless and you won’t be bored.