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The Presidential Traverse

One of the greatest hikes in White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Hiking Severe

32 km
2.8 km
2.6 km
1 day +
Low Point
397 m
High Point
1.9 km
The Presidential Traverse Map

The Presidential Traverse is possibly the most epic hike in all of New England. Mostly above the treeline, the hike offers stunning high mountain views while summiting all of the peaks in the Presidential Range. Attempting this thru-hike is not an easy undertaking, and it is highly recommended to not do it alone.


The route is typically tackled in two or three days due to its intensity, but a single-day traverse is not out of reach for an experienced hiker or trail runner. There are three AMC huts along the route and tent camping is always an option as long as you're off-trail and below the treeline.

While ambitions hikers attempt this year round, most plan their trip in the summer months according to newengland.com. Afternoon thunderstorms always a possibility and should not be underestimated since much of the route lies in the treeless alpine zone.

Typically hiked north to south, you'll begin with a long steady ascent up to Mt. Madison. In contrast to other iconic thru-hikes, there is no "official" way to reach the summit. Valley Way is chosen by many, but requires an out-and-back to the first summit of the range. Alternatively, the path depicted here leads off of Valley Way and onto Watson Path to create a more aesthetically pleasing route. From here, you'll follow the Gulfside Trail to the next two peaks: Adams and Jefferson.

Ahead, the route summits Mount Clay before making the final push to Mount Washington, the highest peak in the northeast at nearly 6,300' above sea level. It's high summit is also known for its infamously bad weather. High winds and clouds are common year round, though summer afternoons often offer clear 360-degree views from the summit. Closed in the winter months, a concession stand and water make it a great opportunity to resupply for the peaks ahead.

Descending through a field of scree, the route follows the Crawford Path for the next portion. Just below the summit, you'll reach the Lake of the Clouds Hut, a beautiful high mountain lake and a popular stop for weary Appalachian Trail thru-hikers. Monroe, Franklin, and Eisenhower lie ahead. Follow the short loop trails off Crawford Path to their summits.

There are a few ways to finish the southern end of the route. Mount Jackson is the final "official" peak of the traverse and offers a direct path down to Crawford Notch, the southern terminus. Many maps also include a visit to Mount Webster (shown here), named after "an American statesman who represented New Hampshire and Massachusetts in the United States Congress and served as the United States Secretary of State under Presidents William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, and Millard Fillmore," according to Wikipedia.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DanielWebster https://sectionhiker.com/great-hikes-a-presidential-traverse/ https://newengland.com/today/travel/new-hampshire/white-mountains/expert-tips-on-hiking-the-presidential-traverse-in-new-hampshires-white-mountains/



Hiking challenging trails where simple scrambling, with the occasional use of the hands, is a distinct possibility. The trails are often filled with all manner of obstacles both small and large, and the hills are very steep. Obstacles and challenges are often unexpected and can be unpredictable.

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.


3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

between June and October


  • Alpine
  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Summit Hike
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Guidebooks in this area