We've gathered our favorite online resources for trail conditions, weather, and route beta in the White Mountains. Trips into the wild Whites, whether hours or days, on foot, rope, or snow, can present changing and challenging weather and trail conditions. Many adventurers in the region have their story to tell about that time things got a bit too hairy in the hills. Though those moments can make for great memories and valuable lessons, the dangers they present can be avoided with diligent research and preparation. Bookmark and refer to these often.
IMPORTANT NOTE: These resources are the best out there for gathering information on your next adventure. That said, it is up to you to make the right decision. Stay vigilant and heed your own sense of potential dangers while you're out there. The mountain, trail, crag, will always be there to be climbed another day.
The Mount Washington Observatory, situated atop it's name sake, is a trustworthy resource for current and upcoming weather conditions in the region. The Higher Summits forecast is updated throughout the day and will help you keep abreast of possible weather conditions during your trip. These reports will point out any weather patterns moving throughout the area that may present particular concern. If the report suggests that you stay off the summits, HEED THEIR WARNING! The meteorologists at the observatory are experts in the dangerous conditions that sweep through the region.
With pages for individual peaks and trails in the White Mountains as well as around New England, this is my go to for trail conditions. This site is regularly used by trail users in the area and so conditions are often updated daily. Even if you're not going out, it can be a fun spot to follow others' adventures.
Trails NH has a great map that can be used for trip planning and checking trail conditions in the White Mountains and other mountain regions in New England. Reports are organized by popular lists of peaks (NH 4000, NH 52, ME 4000, NY ADK46, etc.) and relate to the trails accessing those peaks. The map gives you the ability to overlay White Mountain trails, a very large proportion of New England Trails (though this option comes with a demo disclaimer), snow depth, river flow, and road conditions to boot.
Check out this group for an on-going conversation about trail conditions and adventures on the NH 4,000 footers. If you are more than a few days out and can't find up to date trail conditions, post a question here and you're bound to get many quick responses. The group is made up of a wide range of adventurers including many that know these trails like the back of their hands and have likely made the mistakes you're hoping to avoid.
Views From the Top
Views from the Top is a great reference for trail conditions and related topics around New England. The forum for New Hampshire topics is by far the most popular among those that use the site. In addition to good honest reflections on trail conditions (though less regular than the other sources), this is a good one for keeping up with current topics in Northeast mountaineering.
This is your go to for ice climbing conditions in the White Mountains. The site is meticulously updated and provides clear condition reports for the region's most popular spots. You'll also find a forum touching on a range of climbing topics and a gallery of details on rock routes.
This Facebook group is a wealth of knowledge on back country touring, primarily in the White Mountains. If you're looking for off-piste trail conditions this is a great place to ping the community that knows the most. Reach out with a question about conditions and your sure to get a number of responses based on recent experience and general knowledge of the area.
Like me, you might be feeling a bit blue about these less than perfect wintry New Engalnd conditions. Despite the warmer temps and precip, there's still great winter hiking to be had up here in the whites. Today I met up with an old college classmate, Justin to hike Mt. Hale (4054ft) via the Fire Warden's Trail.
The peak's namesake Edward Everett Hale, is an interesting Bostonian who earned this honor with his contributions to the 19th and early 20th century religious communities, fiction and non-fiction literature, and social reform/justice. He was an early pioneer in modern science fiction topics, writing about time travel and publishing the first known description of now ubiquitous artificial satellites in his story "The Brick Moon". We thank him for his contributions and this peak!
With the warm weather and rain we've had lately we expected soft snow and possibly icy trail conditions. We parked at the end of Little River Rd., hiked across the bridge, and headed up the "Herdpath" to the North Twin Trail trail head. Road access to this trail head is closed in the winter. We enjoyed the next ~mile of the hike with river music dancing on our right and continued on down the east side of the river. The trails got a little confusing here with tracks crossing the river at various points and others continuing on the east side of the river. Continuing on, Justin spotted the Fire Warden Trail , but it looked like someone had just wandered off trail for a bit so we kept going down North Twin. After another ~0.5mi we got the feeling we had missed it, since the map suggested the junction should be less than a mile from the trail head. Ready for an adventure, we strapped on our snowshoes and started breaking trail straight up to Hale from that point. The climb was definitely an adventure with some thigh deep snow, some sections of dense pine, and a few good scrambles, but manageable for the most part. Justin led most of the way since his snowshoes gave him better purchase in the soft snow than mine. There were some beautiful gnarly pines draped with Spanish moss along our bushwhack (it's actually neither Spanish nor moss, it's related to the pineapple!) and plenty of animal tracks likely pine marten and hare, maybe some small cats. We got some fat rain drops as the clouds moved near 3500ft. As we neared the summit we were caught in the saddle between Hale and an unnamed neighboring peak, but soon found our way onto Fire Warden and made it up to the summit. After a customary tap of the summit marker and a quick layer change we let our legs loose and bombed down Fire Warden and some ski tracks between the switchbacks. The down hill was a blast and it looked like the skiers had a great time breaking trail the day before. We made it down and back with a short 2mi jog along North Twin Trail and Herdpath. Overall a great adventure. I look forward to checking it out again in the summer.
Check out Justin's website, JCCrossCrountry for great trip write ups and his inspiring passion for the outdoors.
Justin got me thinking about my 2017 hiking and general outdoor goals. I have some ideas including a Pemi, hut traverse, and 48. I'm going to dig in and make some solid plans for this year and further down the line. You can expect to see those here soon.
Race update! I'm organizing an 8mi/5km race at Gunstock this Spring. I'm finalizing the date and wrapping up plans in the next week. Registration should be open by Jan. 30th. After working on other organizer's racers in a number of roles, I'm excited to be organizing this one from start to finish. Keep an eye out for an announcement on the Fresh Tracks Facebook page.