Presidential Traverse – A Hiker’s Dream

I’ve chosen this blog post title because the Presidential Traverse Hike New Hampshire is a long-distance hike that I’ve wanted to do for a long while. I’ve literally been dreaming about it. And this spring I’m finally going to do it – I’m summiting the seven mountains that are named after Presidents of the United States and four additional peaks on Memorial Day weekend. The hike totals eleven mountains, ten of which are higher than 4,000 feet (1,219 meters), and makes for one of the greatest treks in New England.

Unlike pretty much all of my previous posts, this one won’t be about things that I’ve done and seen, but about something that I’m going to do. I’m so excited about this that I just have to share it!

Presidential Traverse Hike New Hampshire, White Mountains
White Mountains, New Hampshire

The Presidential Traverse Hike New Hampshire

The Presidential Range is a tall mountain range in the east of the White Mountains of New Hampshire; it gets its name from the seven mountains that are named after former U.S. Presidents, including Mount Washington, the highest mountain in the Northeast.

The Presidential Traverse Hike New Hampshire takes in all seven mountains as well as four additional ones. The total hiking distance is slightly less than 24 miles (38 kilometers); the elevation gain is more than 9,000 feet (2,743 meters).

It’s one of the greatest “short long-distance hikes” in the United States. Although some people do it in one long day, my wife and I will be taking our time and are counting on three days and two nights of camping to finish it – about 8 miles (13 kilometers) of hiking per day.

The suggested way to hike the Presidential Traverse is from north to south, a direction that lets you complete the major elevation gain early in the hike. The 3,8-mile (6.1-kilometer) Valley Trail Way to the summit of Mount Madison climbs 4,000 feet (1,219 meters), which is more than 40% of the total elevation gain. Once on the ridge, there’s still a fair amount of climbing to be done – especially to the 6,288-foot summit of Mount Washington. From there on, though, the trail rolls on over the ridge of the Presidential Range and doesn’t involve a whole of climbing anymore.

Summit of Mount Washington, Presidential Traverse Hike New Hampshire
Summit of Mount Washington

Eleven Mountain Summits

When hiking the Presidential Traverse from north to south, these are, in chronological order, the mountains that will be ascended:

Mount Madison (5,367 feet/1,636 meters)
Mount Adams (5,774 feet/1,760 meters)
Mount Jefferson (5,712 feet/1,741 meters)
Mount Clay (5,533 feet/1,686 meters)
Mount Washington (6,288 feet/1,917 meters)
Mount Monroe (5,372 feet/1,637 meters)
Mount Franklin (5,003 feet/1,525 meters)
Mount Eisenhower (4,780 feet/1,457 meters)
Mount Pierce (4,310 feet/1,314 meters)
Mount Jackson (4,052 feet/1,235 meters)
Mount Webster (3,911 feet/1,192 meters)

Presidential Traverse Hike New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s White Mountains are notorious for their bad weather. It’s not unusual for weather conditions to change without apparent notice within minutes. Mount Washington, for instance, is the place where the second-highest wind speed ever has been recorded, a speed of 231 miles per hour (372 kilometers per hour). Additionally, in the past year, the second-lowest temperature on the entire planet has been recorded on that very mountain too, second only to the South Pole. If that doesn’t warrant proper preparation, I don’t know what does.

So, it’s vital in the literal sense of the word to pack rain gear, warm clothes and high-energy food. And it goes without saying that maps and a compass should be the first things to pack.

For more information on Presidential Traverse Hike New Hampshire, I’d like to refer to this excellent (although a little outdated) presentation and this informative article on Section Hiker.

About Bram


Bram is a Belgian guy who's currently living in the USA. For over four years now, he has been wandering the globe, with jobs here and there in between. So far, his travels have taken him to four continents and twenty-two countries. Bram likes to try different styles of travelling: from backpacker and adventurer to tourist and local, he has been all those stereotypes and probably will be many more in the future. You can follow his adventures on his travel blog, on Twitter and on Facebook.

Other posts by the Author

Comments are closed.