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Mount Washington: Lion Head Trail Summer Route

White Mountains, New Hampshire

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Mount Washington: Lion Head Trail Summer Route

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  • You'll come to a lookout very early on just a few feet off the trail that will reveal this waterfall.- Mount Washington: Lion Head Trail Summer Route
  • Until you reach the Lion's Head Trail, the entire way up Tuckerman's Ravine Trail is all rock like this.- Mount Washington: Lion Head Trail Summer Route
  • As you work your way up the rocks of Tuckerman's Ravine Trail, Mount Washington's neighbor, Mount Monroe, provides some motivation.- Mount Washington: Lion Head Trail Summer Route
  • Smaller peaks of the White Mountains are visible the entire way up.- Mount Washington: Lion Head Trail Summer Route
  • The trail once you pass the treeline. Until you get to Tuckerman's Ravine, it's fairly skinny and surrounded by bushes. - Mount Washington: Lion Head Trail Summer Route
  • A trailmarker en route to Mount Washington.- Mount Washington: Lion Head Trail Summer Route
  • Parts of both the trail and the mountains are visible as you continue past the tree line. The road you see is the one you take in to Pinkham Notch, giving you perspective on how far you've come.- Mount Washington: Lion Head Trail Summer Route
  • Enjoying the view along the edge of the massive Tuckerman's Ravine. Tuckerman's Ravine Trail takes you up through the ravine, so you'd miss this view if you took that trail.- Mount Washington: Lion Head Trail Summer Route
  • As you start your final push toward the summit, the observatory comes back in to view.- Mount Washington: Lion Head Trail Summer Route
  • Another view of the ravine as you start your final push.- Mount Washington: Lion Head Trail Summer Route
  • The edge of the ravine and the White Mountains.- Mount Washington: Lion Head Trail Summer Route
  • Clouds roll in quickly on this climb, so be sure to prepare for a variety of conditions.- Mount Washington: Lion Head Trail Summer Route
  • This trail marker serves only as a decoration in the summer, but certainly is vital in the winter. This is the last 0.4 miles to the summit.- Mount Washington: Lion Head Trail Summer Route
  • Getting very close at this point!- Mount Washington: Lion Head Trail Summer Route
  • Some views from outside the store and museum at the summit of Mount Washington.- Mount Washington: Lion Head Trail Summer Route
  • - Mount Washington: Lion Head Trail Summer Route
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Incredible views. Not crowded.
Cons: 
Very steep at times. Not for beginners. Weather can be unstable even in the summer.
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Region:
White Mountains, NH
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
4,257.00 ft (1,297.53 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer
Total Distance: 
8.40 mi (13.52 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
2,031.00 ft (619.05 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

Standing at 6,288 feet, Mount Washington is the highest mountain in New England's White Mountains, which span through Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. It is the most prominent mountain east of the Mississippi River. Famous for it's harsh and unpredictable winter weather and it's record setting wind gusts, Mount Washington was actually ranked the eighth most dangerous mountain in the world by Gear Junkie, right after Mount Everest and before Denali. While many less experienced hikers will opt to ascend Mount Washington in the summer rather than winter, it is still not to be taken lightly. Incredibly strong wind gusts are still very common, especially around the ridge of the ravine, and temperatures can drop into the 20s and below. While many beginners should have no problem on Tuckerman's Ravine Trail, the same cannot be said for Lion Head Trail. If you are attempting this trail, you should have previous experience scrambling, and you should be strong enough to pull yourself up several rock faces at the mid-way point of a steep hike. Lion Head is the steepest of the trails that lead up the mountain, and because of this it is not a recommended trail to use for descent; stick to Tuckerman's Ravine for that.

The trail starts at Pinkham Notch, right to the left of the visitor center. Take the Tuckerman's Ravine Trail to the Lion Head Trail, and get ready for some serious scrambling. While you spend the entire time on Tuckerman's Ravine trail hopping around from rock to rock, you will, on several occasions, need to pull yourself up some small rock faces at angles approaching 70 degrees. While it is still hiking, the majority of Lion Head Trail is pure scrambling and some bouldering. There are two or three rock faces before you hit the tree line, and then another big one after you pass the tree line. At least two of them will require you to have three points of contact with the rock, and you need to be able to pull yourself up. There are several types of rocks along the trail, including schist, granite, and pegmatite, making this a fascinating hike for those with an interest in geology. Lion Head and Tuckerman's Ravine trails re-connect at the sign that alerts you that you are 0.4 miles from the summit. Be prepared for a very long but very rewarding 0.4 miles, as it a very steep shot to the summit that consists of scrambling. After that, the only task left is the stairs to get to the summit sign, where people will certainly encourage you for your last 200 feet.

While you should be prepared physically for this trail, you should also be prepared for some breathtaking views. There will be no shortage of them, and it makes the breathers that you take that much nicer, especially once you hit the tree line and can see the mountains on either side of you, especially Mount Clay and Mount Jefferson to the left. 

Proper gear will make this hike much easier. Hiking boots are a necessity, as is a good amount of water (consider investing in a water pouch for this one, and bring several water bottles). Trekking poles will make the hike easier, and always have both a fleece and rain jacket, just in case the weather changes. Snacks are also a good thing to have, as a mile high snack break with 360-degree views to re-energize yourself could come in handy.

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