From Rte. 302, follow the signs to the Cog Railroad in Fabyan (you'll see Fabyan's Restaraunt and an old railroad trusseled bridge), and take the Base Road into the Cog Railroad/Marshfield Station. Get a hikers parking pass for $5, and park at the Cog. You can park at a Hiker's Parking Lot a half mile back (on your right hand side as you're driving up), but the parking lot at the Cog is MUCH safer; cars tend to get broken into at hiker parking lots in the White Mountains, and the lot is somewhat secluded from the road. Walk up towards the huge building, passing it on the left hand side and walk towards the the tracks. If you look across the tracks up by where the people board the train, you will see a trail and a bridge going across the water...this is the start of the trail....
The Jewell Trail is around 3.7 miles in length, where it reaches the Gulfside Trail at 5,400'. The trail itself is not very difficult or steep, and is one of the least rocky trails on the mountain. The hike in the woods is fairly uneventful, however the scenery is very nice. At around 3 miles, you will begin breaking through the scrub area, and have a good view of the valley below and the mountain above. It is generally not very windy until just below the Gulfside Trail. The trail is well marked by cairns and is easy to follow. As you get closer to the junction, the scrub area dwindles and soon you are completely above treeline. You will come to a sign pointing out the Gulfside Trail; if you wish to go to Mt. Washington, take a right.
This is a particulary enjoyable hike in an early winter storm....in the dead of winter, getting access to the Cog railroad can be difficult, since the road is not maintained from 302 to the Railroad. However, early to late October storms bringing significant snowfall are not uncommon, the road is still open, and if you're familiar with the mountain it can be quite an enjoyable experience. You will probably not see very many, if any people, unlike the east side of the mountain where they can come up in hordes. Once you are on the Gulfside Trail and the weather really starts to sock you in, it's a much different experience than climbing up the well-know gullies.....you get a real feeling of isolation, as you know you're pretty much the only person (or group) on this part of the mountain, with the other 100-200 people climbing up Tuckerman or Lion Head.
If you choose to do this route in the above conditions, it is essential that you do this climb a few times in the summer and know where you are going. It is very easy to get lost on this part of the mountain, particularly in whiteout and heavy freezing fog conditions. Plot the course (in good weather) with a compass, and if you have a GPS, take waypoints as a backup. If you get in trouble, trying to bivy on the Gulfside can be a nightmare at best in adverse conditions.
For the summer.....regular hiking clothing, trekking poles, and lightweight hiking boots.
For the early winter....leather or plastic boots, trekking poles, Gore Tex, etc.
For the middle of winter.....same as above, but add crampons and a mountaineering axe.
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