Date(s) Hiked: August 07, 2004 and July 11, 2015 (with Kathy)
Trails Taken: (From Mt. Clinton Rd.) Edmunds Path to Eisenhower Loop to summit. Back the same way.
Weather: The ’04 hike started sunny and it rained on the summit. Sun returned during the descent. The 2015 hike was a beautiful day from start to finish.
Total Miles: 6.6 miles
Total Time: 8 hours, 10 minutes
My first 4,000 footer. Was I prepared? No, but I loved every minute of the hike. I had done smaller local hikes like North Uncanoonuc (Goffstown NH), Pawtuckaway Park’s North, Middle and South Mountain (Nottingham, NH), Mt. Major (Alton Bay, NH), Monadnock (Jaffrey, NH) and Chocorua (Albany, NH).
Now I wanted to take on the bigger hikes. What did I bring? My trusty fedora, which has it’s own history and has accompanied me on nearly every hike. A leather jacket to break the wind if necessary, three 20 oz. bottles of water and a few granola bars all packed in an old MK-VII gas mask bag. Clearly, I was an imbecile. But if you are reading this and you know me, you already know I am an idiot.
The hike started out pretty easy. I took the Edmunds Path. A tiny bit of history here. J. Rayner Edmunds is known for building paths (not trails) that ascend with fairly consistent and gentle grades throughout. I use his paths whenever possible. There area a few small stream crossings and then you cross Abenaki Brook. The hike is largely uneventful until about 2.8 miles in, when you cross a stream running over a slab of rock. Let it be known that at this point, you are almost at “The Sign”. You will probably hear the whistle of the Mt. Washington Cog Railway train and if you look to the left once the trees clear, the smoke from the stack of the train will be visible.
Then I reached “The Sign”. Intimidating. Foreboding. Ominous. A challenge. Hiking past that sign gave me the feeling that I was in danger from that point on. You are hiking into an area where many people have died. For excellent accounts of the dangers of this area, I highly recommend the book Not Without Peril by Nicholas Howe. Reading this book has educated me like no other book about the dangers of the Mt. Washington area and the Presidentials.
A short time after you pass “The Sign” you will break the treeline and enter a different world. I had been on summits of rocky mountains like Mt. Major and Monadnock. Each offers stunning views, but getting above the treeline on a mountain range is different. It is beautiful and with Mt. Washington in the distance, it is surreal. Until this point, I had only seen Mt. Washington from route 302 or route 16. But there it is, in all it’s glory right there.
The Edmunds Path joins with the Crawford Path and the Eisenhower Loop Trail. As you stand facing the sign, the directions could not be simpler. Follow the arrow that says “Mt. Eisenhower”.
Although it is a rather short elevation gain from here to the summit (and less than 1/2 mile) it feels longer as you zig-zag up the trail. As you near the top, there may be a few times you feel you are “there” only to realize the trail keeps going a bit further. Soon enough, you are at the top though, taking pictures of the large cairn (pile of rocks, for the layperson). The view is gorgeous and the effort is easily worth it. Here is my panoramic image from my return trip in 2015…
Here are some better views from the 2015 hike: