There is a great network of trails on the Old Jackson Road behind the Pinkham Notch Visitors center, not only can you hike these trails but they are also able to be skied! This morning I decided to head to Lowe's Bald Spot, which is a great bald crag that offers beautiful views of the Northern Presidential Range and into the valley. This trail climbs at a
moderate grade with an elevation gain of 750 feet over the course of 1.8 miles. At
1.6 miles there is a sign to take a left
that steadily continues up rock steps make sure to take this, otherwise you will be on the ski
trail that is marked by blue plastic tree markers. After 0.4 miles you
will reach the 2-mile marker of the Mt. Washington Auto Road, from there cross the road (be careful in the summer!) and find the sign that starts the Madison Gulf Trail. At the top of
Lowe's Bald Spot (0.2 mile) you can have a beautiful view of the northern part of
the valley, Mount Adams, and Mount Madison. This summer one of our front desk staff, Liz, went on a clear day and got great views of Mt. Adams and Mt. Madison (picture below)
Currently the trail conditions are snowy and icy, but with the proper footwear it is able to be hiked. The Old Jackson Road segment was very well packed down, as numerous hikers in snowshoes had been through this week. Once you cross over the Mt. Washington Auto Road onto the Madison Gulf Trail the conditions become icy, and the approach to the top of Lowe's Bald Spot was incredibly icy. I used microspikes for the entire hike and was fine, it was incredibly helpful to have some extra traction hiking down the Old Jackson Road as well since there is a 750 foot elevation loss.
Once you do cross over onto the Mt. Washington Auto Road you are now in the Great Gulf Wilderness area, which means if you plan to hike with a group to make sure that the size is 10 or less. To learn more about backcountry camping and Wilderness rules please visit the White Mountain National Forest website or call Pinkham Notch.
Other trails that you can access off of the Old Jackson Road are the Nelson Crag Trail (3.4mi) which brings you up to the summit of Mt. Washington. The Raymond Path (1.8mi) which brings you to the Harvard Cabin in Huntington Ravine. Also the Liebskind's Loop Trail is a great 2 mile hike with great views on Lila's Ledge (picture below).
Other trails that you can access are the Blanchard Loop Trail (picture to the right) which is a fantastic 1 mile loop around Pinkham Notch. Connie's Way is another ski trail (2.75 mi) that traverses rolling terrain and ends at the auto road. There are some great backcountry skiing resources out there, my favorite book is the Best Backcountry Skiing in the Northeast
by David Goodman. This covers 50 classic ski tours in New England and
New York. If you plan to stick to skiing in the White Mountains there is
a great Winter Trails map that has some great information in the areas of Pinkham Notch, Twin Mountain and the Kancamagus.
If you have questions regarding what gear to bring on a winter hiking
trip please feel free to call us here at the Pinkham Notch Visitors
Center. As always you can check AMC Conditions
for the latest report from the snow stakes and/or call us here at
Pinkham to see what we're seeing out our windows and for the best trail
advice we can give you!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. To make reservations at AMC Lodges and Huts, please call (603)466-2727 available Monday through Saturday 9am-5pm. We also offer ski and stay packages at our Joe Dodge Lodge and the Highland Center.
Happy winter adventuring!
Backcountry Information Specialist
AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center
Labels: Joe Dodge Lodge, Mount Washington, New Hampshire, Pinkham Notch, ski and stay packages, Ski Trails, snowshoeing, XC Ski