Suppose you wanted to know which mountains stand head and shoulders above their surroundings rather than just have a high summit elevation with little rise above a ridge connecting them to a higher peak. You would first need to decide where their feet were planted, their base elevation. One choice would be to use a method similar to that used to determine 4000-footer status, which calculates the rise from the lowest col on the highest possible route to a higher point. But instead of choosing a minimum rise and then ranking peaks with at least that rise by their summit elevations as the Four Thousand Footer Club does, you would simply order them from greatest to least rise irrespective of summit elevation.

For a full discussion of the issue of prominence see the page on Topographic Prominence on the County Highpointers web site or the Prominence website by Aaron Maizlish.

Preliminary manual attempts to produce such a list were aided immeasurably by Edward Earl who used a computer algorithm on digital elevation data to produce a tentative list of New England peaks with over 1000 feet of "prominence", which is the term he gave to this calculated rise. Unfortunately the digital elevations are taken on a grid that may not hit the actual high and low points, so the results must be adjusted manually using paper topographic maps.

The following is a list of the 50 most prominent New England peaks as obtained by Roy Schweiker and Andy Martin. Note that most of these are well known as highest in their area even if they are not among the highest in their state. As shown in the table, half the contour interval is added to peaks and saddles where the map does not give an exact elevation. The list would contain the same peaks in slightly different order if "clean" prominence was used.

Table of Prominences of New England Peaks
elevations in feet unless specified
Peak Prom Peak Elevation Peak Quad Saddle Elevation Saddle Location Saddle Quad
Mount Washington 6150 1916.6m Mount Washington 138 Champlain Canal Fort Ann NY
Baxter Peak, Katahdin 4292 5267 Mount Katahdin 970+5 2 places Mud Pond
Mount Mansfield 3643 4393 Mount Mansfield 740+10 Rte.100 Stowe
Mount Lafayette 3360 5240+20 Franconia 1880+20 Crawford Notch Crawford Notch
Killington Peak 3325 4235 Killington Peak 900+10 Rte.14 Brookfield
Sugarloaf Mountain 3180 4240+10 Sugarloaf Mountain 1060+10 NH Rte.110 Milan, NH
Equinox Mountain 3060 3840+10 Manchester 780+10 Rte.7 Manchester
Jay Peak 2975 1175.9m Jay Peak 269.2m Rte.14 Caspian Lake
Mount Moosilauke 2932 4802 Mount Moosilauke 1870 Kinsman Notch Mount Moosilauke
Bigelow, West Peak 2855 4145 The Horns 1280+10 Col S Sugarloaf Mountain
Dorset Peak 2840 3760+10 Dorset 920+10 Rte.30 Manchester
Carter Dome 2814 4832 Carter Dome 612+3m Pinkham Notch Mount Washington
Old Speck Mountain 2720 4160+10 Old Speck Mountain 1440+10 Dunn Notch B Pond
Mount Cabot 2664 4160+10 Stark 456+3m US Rte.2 Mount Washington
White Cap Mountain 2624 3654 Big Shanty Mountain 1020+10 NortheastCove Lobster Mountain
Coburn Mountain 2520 3720+10 Enchanted Pond 1200+10 Whipple Pond Attean Pond
Mount Greylock 2482 3487 Cheshire 1000+5 Rte.8 Pittsfield East
Worcester Mountains 2472 3642 Stowe 1160+10 Rte.105 Spectacle Pond
Saddleback Mountain 2446 4120 Saddleback Mountain 1674 Redington Pond Redington
Kinsman, South Peak 2418 4358 Lincoln 1920+20 Franconia Notch Franconia
Stratton Mountain 2411 1201m Stratton Mountain 462+3m Rte.103 Mount Holly
Traveler Mountain 2340 3540+10 The Traveler 1200+10 Pogy Notch Wassat- Lake
Mount Shaw 2340 2990 Melvin Village 640+10 Red Hill Pond Center Sandwich
Snow Mountain 2330 3960 Chain of Ponds 1620+10 Rte.16 Quill Hill/Sadd- Mountain
Mount Ascutney 2290 954+3m Mount Ascutney 840+10 Col W Cavendish
Kibby-Caribou Mountain 2264 3654 Kibby Mountain
1380+10 Mon.424 Louise Mountain
Mount Carrigain 2240 4680+20 Mount Carrigian 2440+20 Zealand Notch Crawford Notch
Baldpate, East Peak 2238 3780+10 Old Speck Mountain 1552 Grafton Notch Old Speck Mountain
East Mountain 2227 3438 Seneca Mountain 366+3m Rte.14 Woodbury
Grass Mountain 2199 3109 Arlington 900+10 Rte.7A Bennington
Baker Mountain 2191 3521 Number Four Mountain 1320+10 Big Lyford Pond Hay Mountain
Smarts Mountain 2188 3238 Smarts Mountain 1040+10 Rte.25 Warren
Monadnock Mountain 2169 960+3m Monadnock Mountain 980+10 Rte.4 Mount Cardigan
Cold Hollow Mountains 2165 1014+3m Cold Hollow Mountains 354+3m Rte.118 Hazens Notch
Signal Mountain 2140 3360+10 Knox Mountain 372+3m Rte.5 Sutton
Mount Ellen 2132 4083 Mount Ellen 1951 Elbow Rd. Pico Peak
Big Moose (Squaw) Mountain 2124 3194 Big Squaw Pond 1060+10 Col SE Big Squaw Pond
Mount Kearsarge 2100 2920+10 Andover 820+10 Col SW Bradford
Doubletop Mountain 2079 3489 Doubletop Mountain 1400+10 Black Spruce Bog Nesow- Lake
Elephant Mountain 2062 3772 Metallak Mountain 1700+10 Summit RR Houghton
Mount Osceola 2040 4320+20 Mount Osceola 2280+20 Mad R Notch Mount Osceola
Boundary Bald Mountain 2002 3620+10 Boundary Bald Mountain 1628 Mon. 397 Boundary Pond
Gore Mountain 1994 3332 Norton Pond 1325+12 5 S of Lindsay Lake Coaticook PQ
Mount Cardigan 1922 3155 Mount Cardigan 1233 Rte.118 Mount Cardigan
Big Spencer Mountain 1916 3206 Big Spencer Mountain 1280+10 Second Roach Inlet Farrar Mountain
Camels Hump 1873 4083 Huntington 2200+10 Huntington Gap Mount Ellen
Belknap Mountain 1872 2382 West Alton 520+10 Rte.11 Alton
Saddleback Mountain 1848 2998 Big Shanty Mountain 1140+10 col N Big Shanty Mountain
Mount Blue 1840 3180+10 Mount Blue 1340+10 Rte.142 Madrid
Moxie Mountain 1823 2920+10 Caratunk 1107 Col SW Dimmick Mountain