First and foremost, none of the trails on Mount Washington are suitable for beginners. 

However, if you are a beginner and still wish to view the mountain, Square Ledge in Pinkham Notch is your best option. During warmer months, it’s a great hike, but the summit turns into a tough climb during the winter. 

Here is a guide on what to know before climbing Mount Washington.


There are five main trails to choose from if you want to climb Mount Washington, each with its own terrain and challenges. You need to know what’s in store for you before beginning your journey.

Tuckerman Ravine Trail

Although Tuckerman Ravine Trail is one of the shorter paths, it measures 4.2 miles one way. The climb up the headwall of the ravine is the last leg to the summit cone, but it’s also the most strenuous portion.

Lion’s Head Trail

This trail is similar to Tuckerman Ravine as they are both the same distance. However, Lion’s Head is much steeper. Luckily, it’s the easiest trail to climb in the winter.

Boott Spur Trail

At about 5.4 miles one way, this trail isn’t as strenuous as the other two and offers a great view of the terrain due to the early tree line breakage.

Jewell Trail

This trail involves stepping up giant slabs and boulders of granite, and you wouldn’t believe it’s the easiest trail. This is due to the lack of elevation, but it clocks in at about 5.2 miles in one direction.

Ammonoosuc Trail

While the terrain here is some of the most rugged of the five trails, it clocks in at about 4.5 miles one way. But be warned, it’s much steeper than Boott Spur or Jewell Trail.


If you aren’t used to climbing in cold weather, you shouldn’t climb any of the trails in the winter months. 

The hiking trails turn into mountaineering during the winter, and rangers will turn you around if you don’t have crampons and an ice ax. 

If you have the experience, the Lion’s Head trail is the easiest to get through in the snow as it requires no ice-climbing, though rangers still require you have an ice ax just in case.

Mount Washington is one of the places with the worst weather in the United States, so mountain safety is essential no matter what time of year you go.


What you bring with you is almost entirely dependent on the weather. Layering and water-proof gear are nonnegotiable since the mountain can reach sub-zero temperatures. 

You need goggles to protect yourself from snow-blindness. In addition, ensure that no snow gets in your protective layering.

In the warmer months, a camel pack is even more necessary. While you should always take more water than you need, especially as the temperature rises, you can quickly become exhausted from exposure. 

This is especially true on the Boott Spur Trail since the tree line breaks early, exposing you to the elements.


Hopefully, this guide on what to know before climbing Mount Washington prevents any unnecessary accidents and injuries. 

Remember: always push yourself, but test your limits safely!


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