Mount Clay is currently in a name dispute between the state and the USGS. The new proposed name (as nartreb stated: before Reagan was even dead) was Mount Reagan after the late President. The state of New Hampshire passed the proposal, but the USGS has not approved the name yet. As I get updates, so will you!
Mount Clay is a northern shoulder of the Mount Washington massif in northern New Hampshire. It is located between Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Washington on the northern ridge. This peak is often not condidered a separate summit because of the 200ft. elevation gain rule as it rises just under one hunderd and fifty feet from its connecting saddle with Mt. Washington.
Clay is a part of the White Mountains northern peaks with Jefferson , Adams and Madison continuing along the ridge. This peak is similar in status to Boott Spur on the southeastern side of Mt. Washington. Cliffs descend away almost directly from the summit into the Great Gulf which is the largest glacial cirque in the White Mountains.
Clay was named by William Oakes in honor of the statesman Henry Clay, during one of the early expeditions to the summit of Washington in the early 1700s. This peak is most often done in conjunction with its higher neighbors in the range. The Jewell Trail is the only trail which ascends to directly under its summit. Also, if you're crossing the northern peaks to Mt. Washington, you'll have to cross this peak on your way to the summit.
This mountain affords wonderful views in all directions to the other parts of the range. Views include the Great Gulf to the east, the northern peaks(Jefferson, Adams, Madison) on the ridge directly north, Mt. Washington so the southeast, the Ammonoosuc Ravine to the south and the Franconia Range even farther south. You can also get a good look at the Cog Railway which heads up to Washington's summit. Treeline ends at about 4,500ft., so you'll be in the exposure zone on any trip where weather is inclement. Overall, this peak makes a wonderful addition to any summit bid on the neighboring peaks. This is also a wonderful mountain for beginners to get used to the high peaks.
Get onto Route 302 for Crawford Notch and continue until you reach the village of Fabyan where you'll want to turn left at the signs for Marshfield Base Station and Mt. Washington. The trailhead is on the left before you reach the base station and you'll see signs for the Jewell Trail. There are other approaches too, but this is the most direct. From Boston:
Follow Interstate 93 almost all the way to Littleton where you'll reach the exit for Route 302. The drive is about two and a half hours. Get onto Route 302 for Crawford Notch and continue until you reach the village of Fabyan where you'll want to turn left at the signs for Marshfield Base Station and Mt. Washington. The trailhead is on the left before you reach the base station and you'll see signs for the Jewell Trail. There are other approaches too, but this is the most direct.
There are no permits required for hiking in the White Mountains National Forest. You will need some money for parking in the lot near the trailhead though. I believe it was two dollars for the day. All national forest restrictions apply. The trails in the Presidential Range are maintained by the Appalachian Mountain Club so all of their rules apply as well. The "Leave No Trace" program is a very active part of being in the outdoors in this area so please follow the rules. For more information go to www.LNT.org
When To Climb
This mountain is climbable during all seasons of the year, however, the Presidential Range is known for having some of the worst weather in the world, so take precaution. Winter conditions may exist from October well into the summer time in some years. In these conditions crampoons and an ice axe may be necessary.
There is camping allowed below treeline in certain areas of this region. Check the local rangers station for rules and regulations by calling 603-524-6450. Camping is permitted above treeline during winter with the proper snow depth. Also, you are not permitted to camp within 200 feet of any trail. There are also more than fifty back-country shelters in the range, so visit the ranger station for more specific details depending on the planning of your trip.
The Presidential Range is known for its unpredictable and sometimes severe weather. Always check the forecast before planning a trip into the high peaks! For current weather conditions in Mt. Washington area, click on the link below: weather.com
Also visit mountwashington.org for up to date, current weather conditions on the summit of New England's highest peak.
Weather Records For Nearby Mt. Washington: Avg. Summer Temp. = 55F Avg. Winter Temp. = 15F Highest Recorded Temp. = 72F Lowest Recorded Temp. = -46F Avg. Summer Wind Speed = 26mph Avg. Winter Wind Speed = 44mph Highest Recorded Wind Speed = 231mph(world record) Highest Total Snowfall in 24hr Period = 49.3 inches
Mount Washington Observatory This page contains information on weather on Mt. Washington and has wonderful learning tools along with a monthly photo shoot from life at the summit.
mountwashington.com This page contains information on hiking and climbing in the greater Mt. Washington area.
White Mountains Server This page contains a wonderful overview of all of the geologic features of the White Mountains. It includes information on hiking and climbing all the 4000ers and some other interesting peaks as well. Great photos are on all the pages too!