From N. Conway, NH, go through Crawford Notch (Rt. 302) to Fabayan. You will see an old iron bridge on the right side of the road, and Fabayan's Restaurant just past it. In between the restaurant and the bridge, is a road......take this road, which leads to the Cog Railroad Base Station. Stay straight on this road, and about 1/4 mile before the Cog railroad, there is a hiker parking lot on the right. However, you can pay $5 at the Cog to park there, which is nice since it saves 1/2 mile total. Also, the parking at the Cog is more secure than at the hiker parking lot. If you choose to park at the Cog, go to the right of the big building that houses the ticket office, restaurant, museum, etc. As you pass the building, look down to your left, and you will see people boarding the railroad, etc. Keep walking towards the red boarding houses, and to the right. You will see the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail.
In the winter, the west side of the mountain is far less climbed, due to the fact the roads aren't officially maintained in the winter. However, Charlie (the manager at the Cog) will plow the road a little bit, as he lives at the last house on the left just before the Cog Base Station.
This is a very beautiful trail, with many waterfalls and scenic overlooks. It is a relatively easy grade for the first half hour to forty five minutes, and then starts ascending somewhat steeply. You will have a few water crossings, which are easy as you can hop from rock to rock. You will come across a sign that says "overlook".....it's a very short walk to a 600 foot narrow waterfall.....if you can find room to sit comfortably, it's a nice place to break out the 'ol stove and cook up some food and relax. Further up the trail, you will start to climb on more and more rock slabs, which can be a bit precarious in wet weather. However, it makes for a fun and interesting hike. When descending, you will spend a few of these sections on your butt. As you poke your head above treeline, you will quickly come to the Lakes of the Clouds Hut, a very popular cabin with hikers. It holds 90 people, and if you don't have reservations WELL in advance, forget about staying there. However, the AMC doesn't have the same ridiculously stupid rules for signing up for campsites/shelters as Baxter State Park in Maine, so that's a definite plus. From the Cog Base Station to the Lakes of the Clouds Hut, where the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail officially ends, takes about 3-4 hours, depending on how fast you climb and how many stops you make. The Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail/Crawford Path is the most direct route to the summit of Mt. Washington on the west side, at under 4.5 miles. Above treeline, it is very rocky, but graded very well. The ascent of the Mt. Washington summit cone is perhaps easiest via the Crawford Path....I have found it to be more enjoyable than the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. The Lakes of the Clouds themselves, a short walk from the hut, are also neat, although not very big.....and no, you can't swim in them. As an added bonus, if you're into peak-bagging, Mt. Monroe is only about a 300 vertical foot climb within spitting distance from the Ammonoosuc Ravine trailhead, next to the Lakes of the Clouds hut.
All in all, one of the nicer trails to ascend the mountain, and can be one of the busier "highways" up the mountain, due to the hut.....but not as bad as Tuckerman Ravine.
Waterproof boots with Vibram soles in the non-snowy season...the usual gear for a Mt. Washington summer climb - shell jacket, couple layers of fleece, warm hat, gloves, money to buy lunch at the summit and restock your Gatorade supplies, etc...
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