Welcome to SP!  -
Northeast 115
List

Northeast 115

 
Northeast 115

Page Type: List

Location: Maine/New Hampshire/New York/Vermont, United States, North America

Object Title: Northeast 115

 

Page By: Catamount

Created/Edited: Feb 28, 2006 / Jun 8, 2009

Object ID: 176935

Hits: 31333 

Page Score: 92.32%  - 38 Votes 

Vote: Log in to vote

 

Overview

The Northeastern States of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine contain 111 peaks over 4,000 feet in elevation and an additional four peaks in New York's Adirondack Mountains that were once believed to stand over 4,000 feet tall. Together these peaks make up the list officially known as the 111ers of the Northeastern USA but more popularly known as the Northeast 115. As there is currently no official webpage for this group of peaks, it is the goal of this group page to provide a solid overview of these peaks while letting the quality of the individually-maintained mountain pages speak for themselves. Summit Post now features pages for all 115 of these mountains. On some occasions, two closely related peaks are described on the same page. The author of this page initially completed the Northeast 115 between 1993 and 1997 and hopes to bring credibility to the text.

It should be noted that the rules governing what constitutes an official 4,000-foot peak are different in New York and New England. In New York State, the peak must rise 300 feet from the col between it and the next higher peak or be at least .75 miles distant while New England mountains require only a 200-foot rise. Such is the arbitrary nature of peakbagging. The 111ers have never sought uniformity, instead recognizing that the Adirondack 46Rs and the Four Thousand Footer Committee of the Appalachian Mountain Club are governed by different bodies and different philosophies. While the 46Rs have held onto the original tradition of the 46 peaks first climbed by Herb Clark and the Marshall brothers in the early part of last century (in spite of the "lowering" of four of these mountains), the Four Thousand Footer Committee has altered its list with each new survey.

By state, there are 48 4,000-foot peaks in both New Hampshire and New York, including Slide and Hunter Mountains in the Catskills, 14 in Maine and 5 in Vermont. As of December 2007, there are nearly 600 individuals who have successfully completed the requirements for membership in this hiking club. A photo of Carrigain in New Hampshire's White Mountains has been chosen as the signature photo as it seems to have become the most popular finishing peak in recent years.


Sign the Climber's Log

To those Summit Post members who have completed this list (there are at least a few), please take the time to sign the Climber's Log. You are also welcome to use the log to keep track of your progress if this is an active list of yours.


New York - Adirondacks

 
MacIntyre Range from Haystack...
Wright, Algonquin, Boundary and Iroquois
While the Adirondack Mountains are a massive patchwork of public and private lands stretching across parts of 11 counties in northern New York State, the High Peaks region that contains each of the peaks that aspiring 46Rs must climb is a fairly compact cluster of mountains in Essex and southeastern Franklin Counties. The story of the original ascenders of these 4,000-foot peaks - Herb Clark and George and Robert Marshall - is a well-chronicled one. It's a story of two teenagers teaming up with their older guide on somewhat of a whim beginning on Whiteface Mountain in 1918 and ending on Mount Emmons seven years later. Little could they have possibly known of the fever they would be responsible for creating. The threesome is largely credited as being America's original peakbaggers. From Colorado's Fourteeners to the Southern Sixers of North Carolina and Tennessee, the spirit of what they started in 1918 is alive and well more than 90 years later.

It is the goal of this section and subsequent sections on this page to simply touch on each of the 4,000-foot peaks. For the main course, look to the individual mountain pages maintained by a wide array of Summit Post members. The collaborative nature of this site allows all members to contribute photos, add routes and make additions/corrections in the appropriate spots. At this time, with the exception of many outstanding photos, interesting trip reports and the recently-created Great Range page, the Adirondack High Peaks pages are not representative of the best that Summit Post has to offer. This author would strongly urge the use of additional resource material before venturing into the High Peaks Region of northern New York State.

For the purposes of this section, the 46 peaks of the Adirondacks will be broken up into smaller range sections to make for easier readability. Please note that four of these peaks - Blake, Cliff, Nye and Couchsachraga - are no longer considered to be over 4,000 feet. In fact, Couchsachraga, at a mere 3,820 feet, ranks only 60th in height in the Adirondacks. Additionally, MacNaughton Mountain maintains questionable status as a result of the 1953 survey that placed it at an even 4,000 feet. This is the last time an official summit elevation was measured for MacNaughton with subsequent surveys providing only a high contour. Nonetheless, the 46Rs maintain the tradition of the 46 peaks first climbed all those years ago.

THE GREAT RANGE - Suffice it to say that the Great Range lives up to its name in almost every way possibly. Home to some of the most rugged terrain and dramatic scenery in the Adirondack Mountains, this cluster of mountains undoubtedly ranks as one of the most inspiring areas in the entire Northeast. The chain of 4,000-foot mountains begins with Lower Wolf Jaw Mountain and continues in a general southwest direction over Upper Wolf Jaw, Armstrong, Gothics, Saddleback, Basin and Haystack. Sawteeth sits along a souteasterly extension of the Gothics massif and is often included in the group. Additionally, Mount Marcy, Mount Skylight, Gray Peak, Mount Redfield, Cliff Mountain, and Allen Mountain lie just to the southwest of the Great Range proper and their inclusion in this group is a matter of some debate. Nonetheless, if one were to follow the natural contours of the land, he or she could achieve the summits of all of these peaks without dropping below 3,500 feet in elevation.

 
View towards the Great Range...
From atop Mount Haystack
There are as many ways to reach the summits of these peaks as the imagination is willing to conjure. Winter mountaineers seek challenge on the impressive north face of Gothics while strong hikers can find a single day 25-mile marathon over eight of these peaks. Perhaps the most common way of attaining the summits of the core group of peaks in this area is along the Adirondack Range Trail and the State Range Trail. The Adirondack Range Trail passes over or very near to both Wolf Jaws, Armstrong and Gothics while the State Range Trail provides access to the summits of Saddleback, Basin, Haystack and Marcy.

Moving south, the cluster of four mountains near Lake Tear of the Clouds can be approached from four different directions. There is no short way to reach Skylight, Gray, Cliff and Redfield and the trails leading towards Lake Tear of the Clouds can be rocky and often wet. With the exception of the beautiful Mount Skylight, the most notable part of this area is that this high Lake - barely more than a small pond - is considered the source of the mighty Hudson River. Gray, Redfield and Cliff mountains are all officially designated as trailless, but well-trodden herd paths lead to the summit of each. Access to these four peaks is available from Elk Lake, Adirondack Loj, the Upper Works or "The Garden." The Garden/John's Brook approach requires you to pass over Mount Marcy first.

This leaves Sawteeth and Allen on opposite ends of the Range as the final two peaks that can be included in the "generous" definition of what constitutes the Great Range. Sawteeth lies about a mile southeast of the summit of Gothics with the feature known as Pyramid Peak lying in between. The 4,100-foot high Sawteeth is sometimes climbed by itself and sometimes climbed with Gothics and other peaks along northern portion of the Great Range. A multitude of trails in the area of Sawteeth provides a variety of "loop" hikes leading to and from the Ausable Club east of Keene Valley. Far to the southwest and often considered the most difficult of the 46Rs, Allen Mountain is nearly always approached from the Tahawus/Upper Works area. Though the slopes of Allen were hit particularly hard by Hurricane Floyd in 1999, the 46Rs (in cooperation with the State Department of Environmental Conservation) have been hard at work and there is now an officially-designated "Wilderness Path" that leads about four miles up the western slopes of the mountain. This final four miles, of course, is only reached after a five-mile approach, making this a very strenuous day-hike for those who choose not to camp.

THE MACINTYRE RANGE - Second in both height and popularity, this group of four mountains rises sharply above the surrounding landscape and affords outstanding above-treeline hiking on three of its peaks. At 5,114 feet, Algonquin is the only peak other than Mount Marcy to exceed the 5,000-foot barrier in New York State. Consistently rated as offering one of the best views in the Adirondacks, Algonquin is typically summitted after a short but strenuous 4.3-mile hike from Adirondack Loj. The spur trail to 4,580-foot Wright Peak is reached after 3.4 miles along the route to Algonquin and leads east to the top in just another 4/10 of a mile. Wright Peak holds the unfortunate distinction as the site of a 1962 plane crash that claimed the lives of four U.S. airmen.

Not quite-so-easily bagged are the summits of Iroquois Peak and Mount Marshall. Located on the same massif as Algonquin, Iroquois is separated from its higher northerly neighbor by the intermediate bump known as Boundary Peak. The distance of just over one mile from Algonquin to Iroquois is minimally-maintained and the route is strenuous, particularly when one factors in climbing back over Algonquin on the way out. Of course, these peaks can also be reached from Lake Colden but this route requires a longer approach. A loop hike is also an option.

Though part of the same chain of mountains, Mount Marshall is generally climbed independently of the other three peaks as no route leads from Iroquois. The "trail" to Mount Marshall ascends to the northwest from the area known to hikers as the Flowed Lands and generally follows Herbert Brook. Formerly considered trailless, this route is another which now shows up on maps as a minimal-maintenance Wilderness Path.

There are three high peaks nestled in the area between the MacIntyres to the west and the Great Range to the east that don't fit neatly into either grouping. The majestic Mount Colden and its well-known Trap Dyke route lies just to the east of the Avalanche Lake-Lake Colden area. In addition to the Class 3 Trap Dyke, a west-east traverse of the mountain is also a popular choice as the primary hiking trail extends from Lake Colden to Lake Arnold. Continuing east by lay of land, we soon find the spectacular feature known as Indian Falls and two more nearby 4,000-foot peaks. Once a popular camping area, Indian Falls has been shut down due to overuse. The path to the summit of the wooded 4,427-foot Table Top Mountain leaves the Van Hovenberg trail to Mount Marcy in this area. And another mile back towards Marcy Dam, the hiker can find the side trail to the peak of 4,161-foot Phelps Mountain.

 
Dix is the mountain to the...
Nippletop and Dix from Elk Lake
THE DIX RANGE - The five peaks of the Dix Range mark the southeastern corner of the High Peaks area. Two of these peaks are well on their way to being officially renamed and will be referred to by their new monikers after a brief explanation. The peak historically known as East Dix is now referred to as "Grace Peak" by many hikers in honor of the late Grace Hudowalski, who was a beloved figure within the 46Rs for many years before passing away in early 2004. South Dix is being renamed "Carson Peak" in recognition of former Adirondack historian Russell Carson. Again, the formal USGS renaming process is well underway, but cannot become official until at least five years have lapsed since Hudowalski's death.

The Dix Range is another area that was hit hard by Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and some re-routing in this already "trailless" area has occurred. Notably, Lillian Brook is no longer recommended for access to Hough Peak. The primary approach for these five peaks is from Elk Lake and in spite of what was just stated, strong hikers can tag all five in the same day. The Slide Brook route to Macomb leaves the main trail 2.3 miles from the trailhead. Rough in the early going, the path eventually leads to a new slide that ascends to just below the summit of the 4,405-foot Macomb - which is reached in less than two miles after leaving the trail. From here, a well-trodden herd path leads to the top of Carson and then Grace Peak. The hiker must then backtrack to Carson, where another herd path leads to Hough Peak and then finally to the highest point in the Range, the 4,857-foot Dix Mountain. It should be noted that other routes are possible for these trailless peaks. The Boquet River approach is described here. For those looking to climb just Dix Mountain, trailed routes are available from Elk Lake to the south as well as multiple points of entry to the north.

ELK PASS - Just to the west of the Dix Range, four high peaks lie in the immediate vicinity of an area known as Elk Pass. All four are usually approached from the Ausable Club in the St. Huberts area although other choices are available. Mount Colvin and Blake Peak are often climbed together and the views atop Colvin (which stretch from the Ausable Lake to the Great Range) are far superior to those on the wooded summit of Blake. However, the best scenery in this area can arguably be found atop the aptly-named Nippletop. Generally climbed with Dial Mountain just to the north, Nippletop was ranked for views behind only Haystack and Santanoni by the Marshall brothers.

 
Giant 3
Giant of the Valley
ST. HUBERTS-KEENE VALLEY REGION - Moving across the St. Huberts valley, we find the impressive sister peaks of Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge. These popular mountains offer routes of ascent from the north, east and southwest. Among these, the Ridge (AKA Zander Scott) and Roaring Brook trails from generally southwest probably rank as the most commonly used. Each trail gains the summit of 4,627-foot Giant in less than four miles with Rocky Peak Ridge just over a mile to the east. And for those with a penchant for vertigo, the Eagle Slide route offers Class 4 climbing.

While on the topic of popular peaks, Cascade and Porter are widely considered the easiest of the 4,000-footers and thus see a lot of year-round traffic. With sweeping summit views that are won after a short 2.4-mile hike from the Route 73 trailhead, Cascade gives a lot of bang for the buck. Somewhat less spectacular but too close to be ignored by peakbaggers is the 4,059-foot Porter Mountain. It should be noted that a slightly longer approach to these mountains is available from "The Garden" in Keene Valley. Another great short hike from The Garden leads to the summit of Big Slide Mountain, which is one of the few Adirondack 46R peaks to stand alone. Big Slide can be climbed via the very interesting four-mile long "Brothers" route or by hiking in to Johns Brook Lodge and ascending from there.

THE SEWARDS - It is unlikely that any hiker of the 46 would claim that the four mostly-wooded peaks of the Seward Range are the most awe-inspiring. Yet for those who love wilderness, the remoteness of these westernmost Adirondack High Peaks offers a perfect retreat. Holding the distinction as the only high peaks outside of Essex County, the traditional approach to Seward, Donaldson, Emmons and Seymour is via the Ward Brook trail - the start of which is between Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake in the "Coreys" area of Franklin County. For those looking to climb all four peaks together, this is best accomplished by camping in the area of the Ward Brook lean-to located 5.4 miles from the trailhead. A nearby herd path heads about three miles south over the summits of Seward, Donaldson and Emmons. Most peakbaggers then backtrack to the Ward Brook area where a separate herd path brings you approximately 1.5 miles up the slopes of Seymour Mountain.

 
View of Santanoni Range:...
The Santanonis
THE SANTANONIS - Lying to the southeast of the Sewards and perhaps equally remote are the threesome of Santanoni, Panther and Couchsachraga Peaks. While there are certainly other ways to tackle these mountains (including via the intriguing Ermine Brook slide), the Bradley Pond route to these 46R peaks is by far the most popular. The approach trail leaves the west side of the main road to the Upper Works and takes you on a 4.3-mile hike to where a herd path branches off just before the Bradley Pond lean-to. In another mile or so, the hiker will reach the four-way intersection known as "Times Square." Panther Peak is only about 1/2 of a mile to the north; Couchsachraga lies over a mile to the west; and the path to the 4,607-foot Santanoni breaks more than a mile to the south. These peaks can be climbed in one long day or by camping at Bradley Pond.

THE REST - Known primarily for its ski slopes which hosted the 1980 Winter Olympic downhill events, Whiteface Mountain rises majestically far to the north of the rest of the High Peaks region. Visible for dozens of miles from both the east and the west, the 4,867-foot Whiteface also holds the distinction as the only Empire State 4,000-footer with an auto road leading to near the summit - with the Whiteface Memorial Highway wrapping around the northwest portion of the massif. The mountain itself is a playground. In addition to skiing, climbers can find Class 3 and 4 slides while hikers can approach from the north or the south. Neither hiking route is particularly short, however. The Connery Pond route from the south takes about six miles to achieve the summit while the northern Marble Mountain route does the same in 5.2 miles. At 4,240 feet, Esther Mountain is essentially a northern shoulder of Whiteface but comfortably meets the criterion of being its own peak. A herd path leaves the Wilmington Trail along the flanks of Lookout Mountain and leads 1.3 miles to the summit of Esther.

 
Whiteface Mountain (left) and...
Whiteface and Esther
Street and Nye Mountains stand just to the west of Indian Pass and are part of the ridge dividing the Eastern and Western High Peaks zones. At one time, a confusing maze of herd paths led many hikers to wander in circles atop these peaks. Recent efforts by the 46Rs and DEC, however, have made this a straight-forward hike along a minimal maintenance Wilderness Path. The primary approach leaves the Indian Pass trail near the northwest corner of Heart Lake. Each summit can be reached in less than four miles from Adirondack Loj although climbing both requires a little extra distance as you must retrace your steps to and from the main col.

The so-called "47th" high peak - MacNaughton - is part of the same ridge as Street and Nye and lies about three miles to the southwest of Street. Although not a requirement for the 46Rs or 111ers, most 46Rs climb this peak due to its questionable status. A 1953 survey placed its elevation at 4,000 feet even but it has since been "lowered" to a high contour of 3,983 feet. Nonetheless, it is generally climbed from either Duck Hole or Wallface Pond and both routes require map and compass skill with no reliable herd path leading to the summit.

CAMPING AND HIKING IN THE HIGH PEAKS - For the most up-to-date information on High Peaks area camping and hiking, please check in at the Adirondack Mountain Club website. Recent changes relate to bear canisters, campfire prohibition in the Eastern High Peaks and the lowering of maximum allowable camping elevation from 4,000 to 3,500 feet (except at designated sites). As of the winter of 2005-2006, the Department of Environmental Conservation has also begun to "phase-out" its requirements for day users to possess "self-issuing trip tickets" in the Eastern High Peaks although overnight campers will still be required to carry them.


New York - Catskills

While there are some 35 Catskill peaks that have an elevation greater than 3,500 feet, only two mountains in this range exceed the magical 4,000-foot mark. In spite of this, peakbaggers in the Catskills have not been deterred and have made their own list and Club out of the 3,500-foot peaks in this comparatively smaller range. But as the focus of this page is the Northeast 115, we will only focus for the moment on Slide and Hunter Mountains. For complete information on the 3500 Club, visit their webpage here.

 
View from Slide Mtn....
View From Slide
At 4,180 feet, Slide Mountain is the King of the Catskills. It stands prominently above the vast Slide Mountain wilderness that extends to include Cornell, Wittenberg, Friday, Balsam Cap, Rocky, Lone, Peekamoose and Table mountains. It also holds the distinction of being one of four mountains that Catskill 3500 Club aspirants must ascend twice (one winter and one three-season hike) for membership in that particular club. This peak can be ascended from either the east or more difficult west, but those intent on only 4,000-foot peaks typically approach from Ulster County Route 47 and as such do not have to go over Wittenberg and Cornell to reach the Slide summit.


Hunter Mountain is located much further north in the Catskills and it is well-known for both its ski area (which does not reach the summit) and the summit firetower, which holds the distinction of being the highest firetower in New York State. At 4,040 feet, Hunter can also be approached from either the east or west. The east Devil's Path approach from Route 214 near Devil's Tombstone is reputed for its steepness while the comparatively gentle hike from the west along the Spruceton Trail offers an easier option.


Vermont

Many interesting peaks rise along the spine of Vermont's Green Mountains, which literally span the entire length of the state from north to south. Yet, much like the Catskill Mountains, only a few of these peaks rise to more than 4,000 feet. The southernmost of Vermont's five 4,000-footers is Killington Peak near Rutland while state highpoint Mount Mansfield is the northernmost of these peaks. As many who live in this region of the country are aware, Vermont offers some of the best skiing in the Northeast and this is reflected in the fact that the slopes of three of these peaks support major ski areas. Mount Mansfield is home to the renowned Stowe Resort, Sugarbush operates on the slopes of Mount Ellen and Killington is the monster of them all on the mountain that bears its name.

 
Camel s Hump as seen from the...
Camel's Hump
Mount Mansfield can be approached from any of four primary routes. The Laura Cowles and Sunset Ridge Trails ascend the peak from Underhill State Park on the much less developed west side of the mountain while the Long Trail and Hell's Brook Trail ascend from Route 108 in the Smuggler's Notch area. All of these routes reach the summit in less than four miles from the trailhead with elevation gains in the mid-to-high 2000s.

Just to the south of Mansfield lies the interesting and aptly-named profile of Camel's Hump. This peak can be climbed from all four points of the compass although the most popular route is probably the Burrows Trail from the west with its fairly easy 5.4-mile round trip. Continuing south, we soon reach the Lincoln Mountain Ridge, which is home to sister peaks Mount Ellen and Mount Abraham. These peaks can be climbed together as an interesting 12-mile traverse between Vermont Route 17 and Lincoln Gap or, of course, they can be climbed individually by various routes including the Long, Jerusalem and Battell Trails.

This leaves 4,235-foot Killington Peak well to the south of the other four Vermont 4,000-footers. Killington is far enough to the south to be along the portion of the Long Trail that shares its terrain with the Appalachian Trail. While the A.T. does not actually pass over the summit of the second highest peak in Vermont, it does come very close and many choose the route from Shelburne Pass to the north. Another popular route to the summit is via the Bucklin Trail, a 3.4 mile one-way hike from the trailhead on Wheelerville Road.

None of this is to say that the ascent of just five Vermont mountains will leave the hiker with a true feel for the outstanding hiking this state has to offer. After I finished the Northeast 115, I returned to Vermont to get a better sense of what the Green Mountains are all about. Other fun hikes included Jay and Big Jay Peaks, Equinox, Dorset, Breadloaf, Wilson, Stratton, Pico and Glastenbury.


New Hampshire

While the history of the 48 White Mountain 4,000-foot mountains might not be as rich and colorful as that of the Adirondack 46Rs, few would argue that this list of mountains has become the most popular in the Northeastern states. New England's Four Thousand Footer Committee was not formed until 1957 - or about 40 years after Herb Clark and the Marshall brothers began their quest in New York - but it didn't take too long for the number of completers of New Hampshire's 4,000-foot peaks to catch up to and eventually surpass 46R completions. As of the end of 2008, there are 9,075 people who have reported climbing the 48 4,000-foot peaks of New Hampshire while 6,385 completers have registered with the 46Rs. New Hampshire completers annually outpace new 46Rs. In 2004, for example, the number of New Hampshire completers outnumbered new 46Rs by a tally of 280 to 209 and there is no indication that this trend will reverse itself anytime soon. There could be a number of reasons for this, but the relative proximity of the City of Boston to the White Mountains (an easy two-hour drive on I-93) is probably the single greatest factor in this.

 
the Lafayette/Lincoln section...
Lafayette and Lincoln from Cannon
Although New York's Adirondacks and New Hampshire's White Mountains both originally claimed 46 4,000-foot peaks, that's probably about where the similarities end. For starters, the standard for measurement of these mountains differs in each range. As stated in the "Overview" section at the top of this page, each Adirondack peak must have a 300-foot deep col (or be .75 miles distant from its higher neighbor) while each White Mountain peak requires only a 200-foot rise from the shallowest col. Additionally, the Four Thousand Footer Committee has chosen to change the list of mountains as new surveys have produced new col depths and elevations. Notable changes to the original list of 46 include the addition of Galehead in 1975 and Bondcliff in 1982 as well as the changing of official peak location from Wildcat E to Wildcat D in 1998. Most importantly, however, is the fact that in spite of their relative geographic closeness, these two ranges were shaped by entirely different geologic forces. While the Adirondacks are a young, growing range with ancient metamorphosed sedimentary rock being pushed to the surface, the White Mountains are a deeply eroded range and part of the much larger Appalachian Chain that stretches from Georgia to the Gaspe Peninsula of Quebec.

The construction of this section will greatly resemble the construction of the Adirondacks section, with this group of 48 being broken up into smaller range sections. The author of this page is completely comfortable with the outstanding quality of information contained within the Summit Post pages of the White Mountains. There are also several "range" sections for the White Mountains that will be linked at the appropriate times and which go into far greater detail than I will attempt to here.

THE PRESIDENTIAL RANGE - Unlike New York State's Great Range, there is no debate when it comes to defining what mountains constitute the famed Presidential Range of New Hampshire. By elevation, this cluster of nine 4,000-foot mountains boasts the five highest peaks in the Northeast, the only 6,000-foot peak and exactly half of the ten mountains to exceed 5,000 feet in this corner of the country. Offering unequalled above treeline hiking for miles on end, the Presidentials are a magnet for groups ranging from Boy Scouts to hard-core mountaineers. Moving north to south across the range, we traverse the summits of Mount Madison, Mount Adams, Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington, Mount Monroe, Mount Eisenhower, Mount Pierce and Mount Jackson. Lying just to the east of the main spine  
Looking down on Mt. Monroe,...
The Southern Presidentials
of the Presidentials but still part of the range is the 4,003-foot Mount Isolation. In addition to this core group of peaks are several intermediate bumps that miss the criterion of being qualifying peaks. Among the most noteworthy of these are John Quincy Adams, Sam Adams, Mount Clay, Ball Crag, Boott Spur, Mount Franklin and Mount Webster. Links to some of the non-Northeast 115 peaks can be found on the Presidential Range page.

Climbers and hikers alike have been in love with this area for decades. While Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines on Mount Washington offer some of the best areas in the Northeast to hone mountaineering skills, the one-day Presidential Traverse has become the standard by which all other difficult Northeast hikes are measured. The network of trails in the Presidentials is so complex and well-developed (particularly in the northern part of the range) that it defies logic for this author to describe them here. Suffice it to say that the hiker will not be limited in his or her options. Notably, the Appalachian Trail follows the spine of the Presidentials and is usually the main trail used in the one-day traverse.

Two recent Presidential Traverse trip reports can be found here and here.


CARTER-MORIAH RANGE - Just to the east of the Presidentials on the opposite side of Route 16 and Pinkham Notch lie the six 4,000-foot peaks of the Carter-Moriah Range. These peaks are primarily accessible from various trailheads along Route 16 south of Gorham, including the Stony Brook trail, the Imp trail and the Nineteen Mile Brook trail. A  
Wildcat Mountain from a rocky...
Wildcat Mountain
traverse of the range is possible by starting along the Carter-Moriah trail in Gorham and following it 13.8 miles south to Carter Notch, passing over Mount Moriah, Middle Carter, South Carter and Carter Dome along the way. At this point, a quick .2 mile jaunt on the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail in the vicinity of the AMC's Carter Notch hut will take you to the Wildcat Ridge trail. From here, the hiker travels over Wildcat and Wildcat D before completing the descent back to Route 16 just south of the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. This final leg is five miles long, giving a total traverse distance of 19 miles.

In spite of the high elevations of the peaks in this range (which attain nearly 5,000 feet), most of the summits are wooded, probably as a by-product of the "protection" offered by the nearby Presidentials to the west. Only the northernmost Moriah, which at 4,049 feet is the shortest of the group, has a truly open summit among the six qualifying peaks. None of this is to say, however, that superior views aren't plentiful as many trailside outlooks provide outstanding scenery. Perhaps the best views in the range can be won atop the non-qualifying Mount Hight, which at 4,675-feet is shamed by its sub 200-foot col. Located between South Carter and Carter Dome, this peak is ignored by many peakbaggers as its summit is located along a side trail.

GREATER PEMIGEWASSET WILDERNESS REGION - The vast Pemigewasset Wilderness Region of the White Mountains undoubtedly holds the honor of containing the greatest concentration of 4,000-foot peaks to be found anywhere in the Northeast. Roughly bordered by the Kancamugus Highway to the south, Crawford Notch to the east, Franconia Notch to the west and Route 3 to the north, the Pemi Region (as it is known) is home to no less than 20 of the Northeast 115. In fact, there are so many High Peaks in this area that it is necessary to break them up into further sub-groupings. (Notably, the "officially-designated" Pemigewasset Wilderness fills only about half of the above-mentioned area and a few of these peaks fall outside the technical boundaries of the Pemi.)

The spectacular Franconia Range that runs along the western border of the Pemigewasset Wilderness easily gets top-billing among the ranges of the Pemi. Trailing only the Presidential Range, the Franconia Range boasts the second loftiest massif in the White Mountains. At 5,260 feet, Mount Lafayette towers above the surrounding landscape and casts an impressive shadow over Franconia Notch some 3,500 feet below. Just to the south along the Franconia Ridge Trail lies the 5,089-foot Mount Lincoln, which barely meets the 200-foot col criterion. In fact, some recent measurements have placed the col depth between Lincoln and Lafayette under 200 feet, yet Lincoln remains on the list of 48 due to a somewhat complex Four Thousand Footer Committee policy of "proving itself in or proving itself out." Continuing another 2.8 miles south on the Franconia Ridge Trail, we attain the summit of Mount Liberty and Mount Flume 9/10 of a mile thereafter. Though not as awesome as Lafayette and Lincoln, Liberty and Flume offer bird's-eye views of the Pemi Wilderness to the east. These four peaks are most commonly approached from various trailheads located in pull-offs along I-93 in Franconia Notch. The Falling Waters and Greenleaf Trails both offer routes up the western slopes of the Lafayette/Lincoln massif while the Liberty Spring and Flume Slide Trails offer access to the peaks that share their names.

 
Mt Bondcliff taken June 29 2002
Bondcliff
The Twin-Bond Range roughly divides the Pemi Region with another north/south cluster of 4,000-foot peaks. Starting with the rugged North Twin and South Twin Mountains, the hiker is treated to excellent views to the west atop 4,761-foot North Twin and a 360-degree panorama on the rocky 4,902-foot South Twin. Lying two miles to the southwest of South Twin is the wooded summit of Zealand Mountain. The actual distance of two miles, however, is made longer in hiking terms as one must first traverse the non-qualifying Mount Guyot before following the Twinway northeast to Zealand. Doubling back to Mount Guyot and continuing again on a southerly track, we reach the threesome of Mount Bond, West Bond,and Bondcliff. Although climbing this group of six is possible in one-day, it is very difficult. The AMC-run Guyot campsite offers a perfect area to pitch a tent and make this an enjoyable two or three day backcountry excursion. Of course, there are many other ways to approach the mountains of this range as the trail system in this area is very well-developed (as it is throughout most of the White Mountain National Forest). Please refer to the individually-maintained pages as well as the Twin-Franconia Range page for more options.

The Franconia Range is connected to the Twin/Bond Range by a high ridge and, in reality, there is no separation between the two ranges. Notably, we find another two 4,000-foot peaks along this ridge - Mount Garfield and Galehead Mountain. These peaks can be climbed as part of a larger agenda or by themselves. The Garfield and Gale River Trails from the Five Corners area of Route 3 to the north offer direct access to these two peaks. Garfield Ridge is mostly wooded but fine views are won atop these summits.

The oft-maligned Owl's Head Mountain sits alone to the east of the Franconia Range and to the west of the Twin/Bond Range. Owl's Head is reached only after a long nine-mile hike, the majority of which is along relatively flat terrain and follows various brooks for much of the way. The summit itself is wooded and reached at the crest of an unofficial path along the Owl's Head slide. Notably, recent measurements have moved the "true" summit of this 4,025-foot mountain about 2/10 of a mile north to an equally uninteresting bump. As of this writing, no reliable path runs between the traditional summit and the new zenith although 1,000 boot prints will certainly change this in the not-too-distant future.

Lying just to the east of Crawford Notch are the Willey Range threesome of Mounts Tom, Field and Willey. The Willey Range trail is fairly gentle by White Mountain standards and northernmost Mount Tom sits only three miles northwest of Mount Willey with the 4,340-foot Mount Field lying about halfway in between. This is a fairly simple day hike from various trailheads in the Crawford Notch area. A loop hike is also an option for those who don't mind following train tracks for a few miles between the Avalon and Kedron Flume trails.

Less than four miles northwest of Mount Tom by lay of land is the 4,054-foot Mount Hale. The easiest of the White Mountain 4,000-footers, the summit is reached after a short 2.2 mile hike along the Hale Brook trail. While this mostly wooded peak is nice enough, there is nothing noteworthy about it.

 
Summit seen from Signal...
High on Carrigain
Moving to the southeast portion of the Pemigewasset, we find the final three High Peaks in this grouping. The wooded Hancock and South Hancock are not particularly spectacular but some views can be found near the summits. Most commonly, the Hancocks are climbed via a 9.8-mile round-trip from the Kancamugus Highway that incorporates the "Hancock Loop" over both peaks. The 1998 USGS survey has revealed that South Hancock quite definitely has a sub-standard col, yet according to one member of the Four Thousand Footer Committee, it has remained on the list for "sentimental reasons" ... a notable departure from the Committee's historical treatment of such matters. For further discussion on this, the "new" summit of Owl's Head and the questionable Mount Lincoln col, click here.

The 4,700-foot Mount Carrigain rises like a sphinx over the southeast portion of the Pemi. Thanks in part to an outstanding vantage point and in part to a fine summit firetower, many feel this peak offers the best view in the Whites. While such an opinion may be strictly a matter of personal taste, there can be no doubt that the scenery atop Carrigain is quite far-ranging. This peak is reached five miles along the Signal Ridge trail from Sawyer River Road and much of the high ridge leading to the final summit push is open. For many, this memorable mountain is the "peak of choice" for completing the Northeast 115.

WATERVILLE VALLEY-SANDWICH RANGE REGION - Moving south across the Kancamugus Highway, we find the seven 4,000-foot peaks of the Waterville Valley-Sandwich Range Region. Though none of these peaks approach the lofty heights of the more significant ranges to the north, there is no shortage of fine hiking and interesting outlooks to be found. The highest massif in the area lies to the northwest of Waterville Valley and the twin peaks Mount Osceola can be approached from either Tripoli Road (8.4-mile round trip) or the Kancamugus Highway (7.8-mile round trip). The 4,340-foot Mount Osceola is a fine peak with many outstanding views in the summit area while one of its sub-peaks - East Osceola (described on Osceola page) - also qualifies as a 4,000-footer. Though not as high as its parent peak, the wooded East Osceola is a nice summit in its own right. The trailless West Osceola also tops 4,000-feet but lacks the requisite 200-foot col for inclusion on peakbagging lists. New England Highest Hundred peak Scar Ridge (3,774 feet) is a continuation along the same western ridge of Osceola and is known as one of the more difficult bushwhacks in New Hampshire.

Just a few miles to the south of Osceola lies the fairly unspectacular Mount Tecumseh. At a mere 4,003 feet, this summit is attained after a short 2.5-mile hike from the Waterville Valley Ski Area.

The remaining four peaks in this grouping lie within the borders of the Sandwich Range Wilderness. The Tripyramids are reputed for rugged hiking and excellent slide climbing. Two of the three primary peaks on the 4,180-foot massif - North Tripyramid and Middle Tripyramid - qualify as 4,000-foot peaks with many viewpoints available in the upper reaches of the mountain. Pind Bend Brook trail offers a 9.6-mile round trip from the Kancamugus Highway and though not as well-groomed as most other White Mountain trails, it is by no means difficult to follow. A slightly longer but more interesting 11.1-mile "slide" loop approaches from generally west and utilizes the Livermore trail and Mount Tripyramid trail in gaining the summits of all three Tripyramids. It is discussed in detail on the main Tripyramid page.

Mount Passaconaway and Mount Whiteface are the southernmost 4,000-foot peaks in the Whites and offer many routes of ascent. Though both summits are wooded, the southern sub-peak of Whiteface offers spectacular panoramic views.

 
Looking up the lower slopes...
Moosilauke
FRANCONIA WEST - Immediately to the west of Franconia Notch looking back east toward the Lafayette massif, we find three 4,000-footers lying in close proximity to one another. Cannon Mountain is not only a rock climber's playground but also provides some of the most dramatic scenery in the Whites with the stunning eastern slopes of this mountain falling precipitously into Franconia Notch. Cannon Mountain's unusual geologic formation known as the "Old Man of the Mountain" has crumbled somewhat in recent years but can still be viewed from across the Notch. The summit views are most impressive and can be previewed in the Lafayette photo at the top of this section. Hikers typically approach Cannon via the 2.8-mile Hi-Cannon route or the 2.2-mile Kinsman Ridge route (distances given are one-way mileages).

North and South Kinsman can be climbed in the same trip as Cannon or individually. North Kinsman is located 3.8 miles south of Cannon along the Kinsman Ridge trail. The hiker should be aware that there is a lot of up and down hiking through this area, however, as the trail passes over the three "Cannon Balls." The 4,358-foot South Kinsman lies another 9/10 of a mile south of its northern sister. Other trailed routes to the Kinsmans are available from the west, east and south. A high pond located just northeast of the North Kinsman summit is perhaps the most interesting feature on this mountain.

At 4,802 feet, Mount Moosilauke is the highest peak in the western portion of the Whites and its bald summit has a "highlands" kind of feel to it. Not too rocky and not wooded, the grassy summit area provides an interesting contrast to other High Peaks in the Northeast. The Beaver Brook trail (A.T.), Benton trail, Glencliff trail (A.T.), and Carriage Road provide popular routes of ascent. Notably, the hiker must resist the urge to camp atop this fine peak as it is located on Dartmouth College land.

This area west of Franconia Notch is also reviewed on the Cannon-Kinsman and Moosilauke Range page.

TO THE NORTH - Lying to the northwest of Gorham are the final two official 4,000-foot peaks in the White Mountains. Mount Waumbek offers a few views but is otherwise unspectacular. The standard route is via a 7.2-mile round trip along the Starr King trail that begins near the hamlet of Jefferson. The 4,170-foot Mount Cabot is also wooded but a small cabin maintained by the Jefferson Boy Scouts offers a nice area to camp less than half of a mile off the peak. The Mount Cabot trail attains the summit in 3.9 miles but is considered "closed" due to an ongoing dispute with a landowner in the area. Proceed at your own risk. Other longer but legal routes include the scenic Kilkenny Ridge trail from the north and the more direct Bunnell Notch trail from the east.


Maine

Perhaps it's time someone told the State of Maine that the Appalachian chain is actually a mountain range that continues to erode. If one were to look at the results of the most recent USGS survey in 1998, one might be inclined to think quite the opposite. The Pine Tree State holds the distinction of being the only state in the Northeast to have "gained" new 4,000-foot mountains in recent years. The survey that placed Redington and Spaulding above the 4,000-foot mark also led numerous hikers (including this one) to return to the Carrabassett Valley region to climb these newly-minted peaks. While it should be noted that these mountains quite definitely did not actually grow, the GPS technology used in this survey did adjust the elevations of most peaks in this area upward. The end result is that Maine now has 14 instead of 12 4,000-foot peaks.

 
Hamlin Peak, seen from Baxter...
Hamlin Peak
The highest peaks in Maine, however, continue to stand far to the north in the spectacular Baxter State Park. The Katahdin massif is home to the two loftiest peaks in the state. Baxter and Hamlin peaks easily qualify as separate peaks under the rules of the Four Thousand Footer Committee but are almost always climbed together. Hamlin Peak is only about 1.5 miles north of Baxter and requires a climb of only about 500 feet from the deepest col in the Tableland area. There are many ways to climb these peaks and some of Summit Post's best work can be found on the Katahdin page. North Brother is the third and final 4,000-footer in Baxter State Park and is reached after a fairly straight-forward hike of four miles along the Marston Trail. Fort, Coe and South Brother are also of interest to peakbaggers intent on completing New England's Highest Hundred (NEHH) mountains and each of these three peaks is essentially a sub-peak to North Brother.

Ten of the remaining 11 qualifying peaks in Maine lie in a fairly compact cluster in an area popularly known as the Rangeley-Stratton region. The trailheads for a majority of these peaks are located near the Sugarloaf USA ski area between the small villages of Stratton and Kingfield. If one were to rate these peaks by quality, few would argue with the placing of Bigelow Mountain at the top of the list. The Bigelow massif boasts two 4,000-foot peaks (Avery and West Peaks) and an additional summit (The Horns) that rates as a NEHH peak. All of these summits are above treeline and offer spectacular views. Avery also features an abandoned firetower. Just a hop and a skip across Maine State Route 27 can be found the higher but much less interesting North and South Crocker Mountains. As with Bigelow, the Crockers massif lies along the Appalachian Trail and features two 4,000-footers. Unlike Bigelow, however, these summits are mostly wooded and offer very little in the way of off-trail scenery. Only a mile to the south of South Crocker and essentially a sub-peak to the Crockers is Redington Mountain. Once considered one of the more ferocious bushwhacks in the Northeast, Redington has lost its roar. The summit is now typically attained via a series of dirt and logging roads which ascend its slopes from the rugged Caribou Valley Road (CVR). A feint herd path can also be followed from the summit of South Crocker.

 
Old Speck (left) and Baldpate...
Old Speck
Just to the west of the Crockers and Redington and on the opposite side of CVR are the sister peaks of Sugarloaf and Spaulding. At 4,250 feet high, Sugarloaf is the second highest massif in the State of Maine, but in spite of outstanding views from the summit cone, it is not generally considered one of the best hikes. A major ski area operates on Sugarloaf with chairlifts going all the way to the summit. Spaulding Mountain is just a couple of miles to the south along the Appalachian Trail and is usually climbed by peakbaggers on the same day as Sugarloaf.

The easternmost peak in this group is the 4050-foot Mount Abraham. Abraham is one of three firetower peaks among the Maine 4,000-footers and is typically attained via a 4.5-mile one-way hike along the Fire Warden's Trail (near Kingfield) or as a side trip off the Appalachian Trail. This peak can be climbed together with Sugarloaf and Spaulding although this makes for a long day. Moving south along the A.T., we soon reach the twin qualifying peaks of Saddleback and The Horn. There is enough separation between these two peaks and the rest of the group to the north that peakbaggers generally choose to approach from the Route 4 trailhead near Rangeley. Saddleback offers superior above treeline hiking and although the mountain supports a ski area on its western slopes, it is far enough down the mountain so as not to interfere with the hike.

This leaves just Old Speck Mountain, located far to the southwest in the Mahoosuc Range. The 4,170-foot Old Speck shares more in common with the much closer White Mountains of New Hampshire than it does with the other Maine 4,000-foot peaks. Old Speck offers an outstanding 3.8-mile hike to its firetower along the Appalachian Trail and is one of the many gems of the Mahoosucs.


111ers of the Northeastern USA

The 111 4,000-foot peaks of the Northeast were first completed in 1948 by J. Daniel McKenzie and Lillian G. McKenzie of Boulder, Colorado. This, of course, occurred during a period when there were in fact only 111 peaks believed to be 4,000 feet high and before the 1953 survey that lowered the elevation of four Adirondack peaks. The McKenzies finished their journey on Passaconoway in New Hampshire's White Mountains on August 13 of that year, just six days after finishing the Adirondack 46 on Wright Peak. Since then, as of December 2007, some 572 individuals from around the Northeast and Canada have gone on to complete this list of mountains. Currently, there are about 20-25 new completers per year. To become a documented Club member, one must first receive a 46R number, which involves the considerable paperwork that the 46Rs ask you to fill out, and additionally be recognized as having completed the 67 New England 4,000-foot peaks.

Up until 2004, the Club was administered by Albert and more recently Priscilla Robertson. Under the Robertsons, the 111ers were a very informal and personable Club where list completers could always look forward to a hand-written note of congratulations. In 2004, the reigns of the Club were handed over to the Four Thousand Footer Committee, which also controls three other peakbagging lists in New England. The "Northeast 111" portion of their webpage can be viewed here.

Correspondence regarding the Club and list completion should be sent to:

Mike Dickerman
P.O. Box 385
Littleton, NH 03561

Additions and Corrections

[ Post an Addition or Correction ]
Viewing: 1-2 of 2    
woodsxcReddington

woodsxc

Hasn't voted

Mount Redington has just one "d" in it, not two. Also, it now has its own page if you want to hyperlink it.
Posted Nov 4, 2008 8:18 pm
woodsxcRe: Reddington

woodsxc

Hasn't voted

I've also seen it with two "d"s, but the creek and river are spelled with just one so I figured I should use that for consistency's sake.



Also, the Horn now has its own page.
Posted Nov 9, 2008 5:33 pm

Viewing: 1-2 of 2    

Images

Algonquin and IroquoisThe Chin of Mt MansfieldKatahdin PanoramaCamels Hump from the westPresidential PanoramaCamel\'s HumpEvening Shot of Katahdin
Hamlin PeakCarrigain seen from...Baxter Peak