The Best East Coast Adventures: Peak Bagging

Presidential Range, New Hampshire

New Hampshire's 5,089-foot Mount Lincoln

New Hampshire's 5,089-foot Mount Lincoln     Photo: Herb Swanson

Your buddy from Boulder might scoff at the elevations, but the Presidential Traverse in New Hampshire’s White Mountains is a serious project. The whole enchilada consists of 24 miles, 10 peaks, and 9,000 feet of elevation gain. Plus there’s the unpredictable weather above the tree line, where you’ll be for 11 of those 24 miles. The wind can get nasty (gusts up to 90 miles per hour), clouds can gather, and a warm day in the lower woods can turn bone-chilling up high. Purists maintain that the traverse should be done in a single day. But it’s a lot more pleasant if you take two or three, staying at the Appalachian Mountain Club’s cozy backcountry huts, which supply bunk beds and hearty meals prepared by bandanna-sporting seasonal workers (reserve a hut in advance; from $120). The best route is north-south—that way you get the most brutal peaks, like 6,288-foot Mount Washington, out of the way first. Start at the Appalachia trailhead on U.S. Route 2 and end with a hot meal and a shower at AMC’s Highland Center Lodge at Crawford Notch (bunks, $103), then catch the daily shuttle back to your car. In between, you’ll have 130-mile vistas.

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