Snow and Ice in the White Mountains

Here we are in all our glory!
This season has a lot of various trail conditions with the recent cold temperatures causing for snow and ice on many of the trails here in the White Mountains. This week I was down in Concord so I had planned on a Waterville Valley hike on the way home.  I hadn't walked the Livermore Trail before and figured since much of it was a road, I could do all 5 miles in and out before dark in the afternoon....but it's closed!  The Forest Service is working  on the areas of the Flume Path and the Greeley Ponds Trail which were severely damaged by Hurricane Irene and they have heavy equipment in there.  So bummer for me but overall very exciting for all of year we can most likely get in that area again!

So I turned my car around and headed to Fletcher Cascade but missed the trailhead and was out to Campton by the time I realized it.  Really didn't want to turn around so I headed into Franconia with thoughts of maybe the Basin Cascade Trail/Cascade Brook Trail loop.  Arrived there and read the guidebook and still felt uncertain.  There were at least 3 river crossings, we had a light sheen of ice on the ground, and I was in blue jeans (having expected to be doing a road walk).  Figured I was almost out of options so I might as well at least try it and I crossed under the road and headed south on the Pemi Trail.  I'd never been down to the Baby Flume at the Basin before.  Wow!  Very beautiful and dramatic (and cold looking)!  I crossed one tributary which was practically dry and the second river looked doable but I chickened out about 1/2 way across.  I think I could have done it however there were several more crossings beyond it, any number of which I didn't want to fall into especially with my nice cotton blue jeans on.  So I bagged it after 0.8m, but at least I got to stretch my legs.  A little more snow over the river, microspikes, and appropriate seasonal clothing and I'll give it another shot on another day, as this could have been a nice little loop; down the Pemi Trail, up the Cascade Brook Trail and then down the Basin Cascade.  Or perhaps the other direction so that I can climb the steep!  On the other hand if you are traveling through Franconia and need to just stretch your legs, go check out that Baby Flume!  Its a 15 minute out and back walk off the lower trails at the Basin area.  Enjoy!

Back here in the mountains we do have a trace of snow and ice here in Pinkham Notch.  There is 2 inches of snow and drifts on top of Mt. Washington.We have had ice climbers in Huntington's Ravine and in Tuckerman's who have found routes to climb and 2 people I know of managed to piecemeal the John Sherburne Backcountry Ski Trail together last week! The conditions are changing daily here in the White Mountains with the changing of temperatures.  Be sure to check the Regional Forecast from Mt Washington before you come!

On the hiking and mountaineering scale, folks for the most part ARE bringing and wearing light traction such as microspikes on many of the trails.  And now folks are considering bringing flotation and full crampons as well.  Whether you would need any of these or not fully depends on the trail you are considering.  Read your AMC White Mountain Guides and be sure to note images of steep hills, ledges, sidehills, and water courses!

For any general questions, conditions information, or trail advice, please feel free to contact us here at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center front desk.  We are available by phone at (603) 466-2721 every day from 6:30 AM to 9:00 PM or by email at To make reservations at AMC Lodges and Huts, please call (603)466-2727 available Monday through Saturday 9am-5pm.

Happy Hiking!

Joyce S.
Backcountry Information Specialist
AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center
(603) 466-8116 

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