Table of Contents

These notes are written to help you compare the various routes that are commonly used to hike to the peaks. They are written on the assumption that you have a guidebook and a set of maps, so no directions are given to trailheads, and the trails are not described in any detail. I have omitted hikes that are substantially longer or more difficult than the standard ones, or that are simply less often used. The fact that a trail is not mentioned here does not imply that it is unsuitable.

Mountain Weather Forecast

The best forecast for Mounts Monroe and Eisenhower is probably the Mount Wasington Observatory's Higher Summits Forecast. For Mounts Pierce and Jackson you might consult the Recreation Report for New Hampshire and Western Maine, which gives a two day forecast for higher elevations (separate forecasts for elevations of 2,500 to 4,000 feet and for above 4,000 feet). There is also a point forecast for Mount Pierce.


The map below is a fully interactive Google map, you can zoom in or out and click on any feature. Specifically clicking on the P symbols will allow you to get driving directions to the trailheads.

View Southern Presidentials in a larger map

Huts and Established Trailside Campsites

The AMC operates two huts and two backcountry campsites in this area. Fees are charged at all of them, reservations are advised at the huts, but there are no reservations at the campsites.

Here is a summary of the distances (one way) to these facilities:

Distances to Facilities in Southern Presidentials
Facility Distance Elevation Gain Book Time
Lakes of the Clouds Hut 3.1 2,500 2:50
Mizpah Spring Hut and Nauman Tentsite 2.6 1,900 2:15
Hermit Lakes site 2.4 1,850 2:10
Rocky Branch Shelter #2 3.7 1,900 2:50
Isolation-Davis path junction (primitive) 6.4 2,950 4:40

Routes to Single Peaks

Mount Monroe

Mount Monroe, at 5,384 feet, is the 4th highest mountain in New Hampshire. From the Lake of the Clouds Hut, however, it is completely dwarfed by neighboring Mount Washington. It is usually climbed by taking the Ammonoosuc Ravine trail to Lakes of the Clouds hut, then taking the Crawford Path and Mount Monroe Loop [rt: 7.2 miles, 2,900 feet, 5:05] to the summit. It is a steep and rough trail, some may be more comfortable doing the longer trip over both Eisenhower and Monroe, using the Edmands and Crawford Paths, described below.

Mount Eisenhower

Mount Eisenhower is most often climbed by the Edmands Path and the Mount Eisenhower Loop [rt: 6.6 miles, 2,750 feet, 4:40] when done alone. The trail is never very steep, and the footing is good. This hike gives excellent views for a very reasonable effort, but remember that the summit is fully exposed to the weather.

Mount Pierce (Clinton)

Mount Pierce is usually climbed by the Crawford Path [rt: 6.4 miles, 2,400 feet, 4:25] when done alone. This was originally a bridle path, it is nowhere really steep and the footing is good.

It is possible to extend the trip slightly to visit Mizpah Hut on either the way up or the way down (lp: 6.6, 2,400, 4:30). This involves using the Webster Cliff Trail from the summit to the hut, and the Mizpah Cutoff to regain the Crawford Path.

Mount Jackson

Mount Jackson is usually climbed by the Jackson Branch of the Webster-Jackson Trail [rt: 5.2 miles, 2,150 feet, 3:40] when done alone. Though the average gradient of the trail is definitely not steep (2,150 feet over 2.6 miles) it is somewhat deceptive, as there are several rather flat sections that alternate with much steeper ones. Nevertheless it is one of the easier 4000 footers, and has excellent views (as do all the peaks in this section).

Here is a summary of the times for the peaks other than Mount Washington:

Routes to Other Southern Presidentials
Mountain Distance Elevation Gain Book Time
Mt. Monroe by Ammonoosuc Ravine 7.2 2,900 5:05
Mt. Eisenhower by Edmunds Path 6.6 2,750 4:40
Mt. Pierce by Crawford Path 6.4 2,400 4:25
Mt. Pierce visiting Mizpah Hut 6.6 2,400 4:30
Mt. Jackson by Jackson-Webster Trail 5.2 2,150 3:40

Routes to Multiple Peaks

The summits on the main ridge are fairly close to each other, and it is quite easy to arrange trips (loops or round trips, depending on the availability of a second car) over more than one summit. I find the continuous views one gets hiking along the ridge (in good weather, of course!) much more attractive than just going to a summit, seeing the views, and returning to the trees. The ultimate route to multiple peaks is, of course, the Presi Traverse!

Here are some sample loops (requiring a car unless noted):

Mt. Washington and Mt. Monroe

Adding Mt. Monroe to an ascent of Mt. Mount Washington using the Ammonoosuc Ravine trail (either alone or with the Jewell trail) will add 1.0 mile, 400 feet and 0:40. That does not seem much, but it is an addition to a long hike! No car needed for the loop as both trails start from the same trailhead.

Mt. Monroe and Mt. Eisenhower

One way is to go up the by the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail to Mt. Monroe, then along the Crawford Path to Mt. Eisenhower, and down by Edmands Path [lp: 9.0 miles, 3,350 feet, 6:10]. Those uncomfortable with the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail may prefer to go up the Edmands Path and follow the Crawford Path to Monroe, returning the same way [rt: 9.8 miles, 3,800 feet, 6:50].

Mt. Eisenhower and Mt. Pierce

This is most often done as a loop by going up Edmands Path and down the Crawford Path (lp: 8.1 miles, 3,100 feet, 5:35). Doing it in the opposite direction adds only 80 feet of elevation gain. Both the Edmands and Crawford Paths are gentle, and this is probably the easiest trip with a lot of time spent above treeline.

With one car it is usually done by taking the Crawford Path and going over both summits (rt: 9.6 miles, 3,250 feet, 6:25), though it can be done in the opposite direction, going up Edmands Path to the summit of Eisenhower and going to Pierce by the Crawford Path (rt: 10 miles, 3,650 feet, 6:50). Those doing the trip up Edmands Path can save about 300 feet of elevation by only going over Mount Eisenhower once, bypassing it on the Crawford Path on the return trip.

Mt. Pierce and Mt. Jackson

This is done by taking the Crawford Path to its junction with the Webster Cliff Trail, then following that trail over Mt. Pierce to Mt. Jackson, and descending by the Jackson branch of the Webster-Jackson Trail. The loop, in either direction is 8.3 miles, 2,650 feet, 5:30. The section between Mizpah hut and the summit of Pierce is steep and rough. The two trails have have separate trailheads, but they are so close together that there is no need for a second car.

Mt. Jackson and Mt. Webster

Doing these two peaks by the Webster-Jackson trail (in either direction) is a classic loop (6.5 miles, 2,500 feet, 4:30). Mt. Webster is not a 4,000 footer, but it has great views into Crawford Notch.

Here is a summary of the distances of the loops described:

Routes to Multiple Peaks
Route Distance Elevation Gain Book Time
Washington and Monroe, round trip by Ammonoosuc 10.0 4,200 7:05
Washington and Monroe, loop by Ammonoosuc and Jewell trail 10.6 4,200 7:20
Monroe and Eisenhower, loop by Ammonoosuc and Edmands 9.0 3,350 6:10
Monroe and Eisenhower, Round trip up Edmands 9.8 3,800 6:50
Eisenhower and Pierce loop 8.1 3,100 5:35
Pierce and Jackson loop 8.3 2,650 5:30
Jackson and Webster loop 6.5 2,500 4:30

Hut Based Routes

The AMC hut system can be used to break up the long trips to the major peaks in the Presidential range into more manageable pieces. In this section I will describe an overnight trip to Monroe and Washington and a two night traverse of most of the Presidential range, the overnight to Madison and Adams is described under the Northern Presidentials.

Mt. Washington and Mt. Monroe using Lakes of the Clouds Hut

Staying overnight at Lakes of the Clouds Hut allows this strenuous trip to be split. On the first day go up the Ammonoosuc Ravine trail to the hut [ow: 3.1 miles, 2,500 feet, 2:50] and settle down. Then do the short climb up Monroe and back [rt: 1.0 mile, 400 feet and 0:40]. Next day climb up Washington and down by the Jewell trail [ow: 7.9 miles, 1,300 feet, 4:35].

Hut to Hut Presidential Traverse

This now has its own page.