New England peakbaggers usually start their pursuit with the "New Hampshire Fours," maintained by the Four Thousand Footer Committee of the Appalachian Mountain Club. Peaks on this list, all in the White Mountains
, rise above 4000' with at least a 200' col between each peak and its nearest higher neighbor. Currently there are 48 peaks on this list, and expanding the list to all of New England raises the total to 67. "All of New England" encompasses Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, as southern New England's highest peak, Massachusetts' Mount Greylock
, falls short by some 500'. Nevertheless, completers of the New England Fours have experiences from the ski slopes of Killington Peak
through the lofty-yet-crowded Mount Washington
to the majesty of Katahdin
. These peaks form the New England contingent of the Northeast 115
and I highly recommend Catamount's page on that topic for those interested in the Fours.
Although 4000 is a nice round number, 67 is most definitely not. Maintaining the 200' col rule and ranking by elevation, the Four Thousand Footer Committee selected an additional 33 to form the "New England Hundred Highest" (NEHH) These peaks, ranging from 3769' Northeast Cannon Ball to almost-made-it 3980' Sandwich Dome
, were best described by Thomas Hobbes as "nasty, brutish, and short." All but two of the 4000-footers are reached by official trails (and those two have very well-worn routes), fully 13 of the shorter peaks lack a trail. Those with "trails" are not always primarily for hiking. A combination of old logging roads, snowmobile routes, and flat-out bushwhacking brings one to the summit. The journey to these peaks may prove more rewarding than the destination, taking one through still-quiet corners of the New England backcountry. Technical climbing requirements may be low and elevation gains small, but the routefinding difficulty and spruce-chewing make these peaks worthy challenges.
A note on nomenclature: the 4000-footers are part of the NEHH list, but "Hundred Highest" is often used to refer to the (33) sub-4000' peaks which are featured on this page. Where mentioned here, 4000-footers will be labelled (4K); for an overview of them as a whole, see the Northeast 115 page
The North Woods of Maine represent the greatest bushwhacking challenge of the Hundred Highest. Access to many peaks requires navigating an ever-changing maze of logging roads, bringing the aspiring peakbagger literally to the edge of Canada. Although all the peaks have publically-accessible routes, little of the land is publically owned and responsible hikers will respect the property owners. Some roads are gated and not passable, and camping outside of designated campgrounds usually requires explicit permission.
Scrub on South Brother
BAXTER STATE PARK
contains three Hundred Highest peaks, in addition to its three Fours. Mount Coe
, South Brother
, and Fort
are doable in a fairly long day that takes in a Four (North Brother) as well. All have scrubby summits with fine views across the Klondike to Katahdin
's (4K) west slopes. The bushwhack to Fort is not to be taken lightly; people have been lost and died in the attempt. An appropriately-cautious party, however, can have a fine day in some of New England's most beautiful country, perhaps without seeing another soul.
THE RANGELEY SIX-PACK
is a group of peaks north of Rangeley, Maine, some distance from the Sugarloaf
(4K) group of Fours. "Boundary Peak
", a technically unnamed 3855' summit, is (by definition) exactly on the US-Canada border and accessed via the swath cleared to keep the border open. The easiest route is, in fact, from the Canadian side. Those hiking from the US may combine it with White Cap
and the north peak of Kennebago Divide
, for a 14-mile day without ever setting foot on an official trail--and requiring 20 miles of logging roads before the hike begins.
Across the "street" from Whitecap is Snow Mountain
, referred to as "Cupsuptic Snow," for the township it occupies. This nickname avoids confusion with the other Snow Mountain
on the list, called "Chain of Ponds Snow" for the USGS quad containing it. Chain of Ponds snow is on Penobscot Indian territory and the only of the six-pack with a maintained trail to the top. Rounding out the six-pack is East Kennebago Mountain
, specifically the 3791' north peak. (Be careful asking directions, as the south peak has a jeep trail to it and you may wind up there by mistake.)
Goose Eye Mountain
THE BIGELOW PRESERVE
was created in the mid-70's when the people of Maine voted against development on the Bigelow Range. (This fed a movement which used a long-overlooked law to reclaim public land and consolidate it into several preserves enjoyed by the public today.) The AT crosses the range, including South Horn
. Two other peaks, West Peak (4K) and Avery Peak (4K), exceed the magic figure of 4000'.
THE WESTERN MAINE HILLS
form a low rolling ridge between the Mahoosucs and the higher peaks of the Rangeley-Stratton area. In this region, only Elephant Mountain
rises high enough to be listed.
THE MAHOOSUC RANGE
connects western Maine with the White Mountains. The northeastern end of the Mahoosucs proper is the appropriately-named Baldpate Mountain
. The AT traverses this range southwest, over Old Speck
(4K), to Goose Eye Mountain
, nearly on the New Hampshire line. Its bare summit offers a wonderful panorama of this mountain country.
New Hampshire's NEHH peaks (not to be confused with the separate but somewhat-overlapping New Hampshire Hundred Highest list) are all clustered in the White Mountains, many near Four Thousand Footers. Thus, many peakbaggers with long vision will tag some NEHH peaks while still working on the New Hampshire Fours, a strategy called "Leave No Stragglers."
Mt. Weeks (right foreground) from The Horn.
THE KILKENNY REGION
, a far-north exclave of the White Mountain National Forest, offers great woodwalks with limited vistas but even fewer crowds. The Bulge
and the Horn
are both easily combined with nearby Mount Cabot
(4K) via the Kilkenny Ridge Trail. Although the Bulge is a completely uninspiring lump in the trail, the short side trip (and very small scramble) to the summit of the Horn is rewarded by a full panorama of the North Country.
The south end of this region is home to Mount Weeks
, named for the Congressman who brought us the White Mountain National Forest. Of its three peaks, the North and South are on the list. All three are crossed by the Kilkenny Ridge Trail. A full traverse of Waumbek
(4K) and the Weekses makes for a productive day of peakbagging, but requires a long car spot.
Wilderness is slowly returning to a state befitting its name, decades after the end of excessive logging. On the east boundary of the Wilderness, near Crawford Notch, Vose Spur
is tucked up against Mount Carrigain
(4K), and Mount Nancy
forms part of the small range terminating across Carrigain Notch. Vose Spur is gentling as a herd path forms on the most popular route, but anyone who gets off-route into the spruce will be readily reminded of its former reputation for nastiness. Nancy has a very easy herd path to the summit, with a limited outlook north to Crawford Notch. The highlight of a Nancy trip, however, would be either the outlooks on the Pemigewasset Wilderness from Norcross Pond, or the spectacular Nancy Cascades.
Well away from this pair, and north of the Wilderness proper, is an unnamed 3813' peak attached by a long ridge to North Twin
(4K). Because it rises above nearby Haystack Mountain, locally called "The Nubble," this peak has gained the unofficial name Peak Above the Nubble
. Officially trailless, an illegal trail has been cut through steep and easily-eroded terrain. More environmentally responsible routes are possible starting from the Nubble itself, either through the (occasionally dense) woods of its northwest ridge or via one of two slides.
Looking across the Mad River valley to Sandwich Dome
THE SANDWICH RANGE
is the underrated southern wall of the Whites and home to one of the toughest NEHH bushwhacks in New Hampshire: Scar Ridge
. Extending northwest from Osceola
(4K), it is a trailless, thick scrubby blowdown-infested mess and usually attempted on its own. Preferred routes have shifted over the years as old blowdowns decay and new ones fall.
By contrast, East Sleeper
is a short distance from the Kate Sleeper trail between Mount Whiteface
(4K) and Mount Tripyramid
(4K). There is now a short spur trail leading to the completely forgettable summit.
With a trail straight to the open summit, Sandwich Dome
makes up for its neighbors. By some maps, this peak falls short of the magical 4000' mark by as little as seven feet. With easy access from Waterville Valley (and, relatively speaking, Boston), one can gauge the love for Sandwich by the only-somewhat-joking plans to build a cairn large enough to vault it onto the popular Four Thousand Footer list. (Some of the more bitter fans suggest taking the material from less-deserving mountains that squeak in just over
4000'.) Even non-peakbaggers will want to visit here.
THE KINSMAN RIDGE
, the west wall of Franconia Notch, contains a single NEHH peak: the northeast peak of the Cannon Balls
. Easily combined with Cannon Mountain
(4K), but all trails on this side of Cannon are very steep.
While Vermont's 4000-footers all follow the central spine of the Green Mountains, its NEHH peaks are somewhat more scattered. All have some sort of path to near the summit, and fit well into Vermont's reputation for gentler mountains.
THE MANCHESTER AREA
covers a broad region of southern Vermont. Stratton Mountain
, the southernmost NEHH peak, is famous as the birthplace of the LT and AT. Both trails go over its summit, which also features an enclosed lookout tower. Nearby Mount Equinox
offers closer-in, but equally inspiring, views of a mountain valley to one side and the town of Manchester to the other. The chief route up leaves from inside Manchester proper and passes through land preserved by the Equinox Preserve Trust. There is a road to the summit; your quiet contemplation may be disturbed by sightseers in motor vehicles.
Dorset's most famous landmark
offers a very different experience. Its treed-in summit, accessed by a combination of woods roads and snowmobile trails, offers no views except for some interesting...artifacts.
THE KILLINGTON GROUP
, a series of peaks in the Coolidge Range, consists of Pico Peak
, Mendon Peak
, and Killington Peak
(4K). All three can be done in a single day; however, this requires navigating not only the logging road/bushwhack combo to Mendon, but also a combination of abandoned trails and bushwhacks back to the Long Trail. Once the LT is reached it's easier going, with spur trails to the summits of Killington and Pico. Killington and Pico have views and ski areas; Mendon has very limited views and retains a certain wildness.
THE BREAD LOAF WILDERNESS
contains the closely-paired Mount Wilson and Bread Loaf Mountain
, near each other but quite isolated from any other peak of renown. There is little sense in a trip to one that does not take in the other.
Jay Peak, the "Matterhorn of New England"
THE JAY GROUP
is in far northern Vermont, very close to Canada. Jay Peak
, accessed via the Long Trail, has had its beauty marred by blasting of the summit to build the ski area. It still offers a fantastic view, as long as you look further away. A "herd path" (essentially a bootleg trail) offers access from Jay Peak to Big Jay
The Four Thousand Footer Committee
The AMC Four Thousand Footer Committee
administers the NEHH list and will, for a nominal fee, provide a patch to those who complete it. Another patch awaits the hardy few who complete the list in winter.
The rules and FAQ are essential reading for anyone considering applying for completion of the list. (For example, the use of mountain bikes is severely limited.) The Committee provides, via snail mail, a list of directions to the peaks. Despite the outdated distribution mechanism I highly recommend obtaining this useful (and sometimes entertaining) information.
Leave No Stragglers
With a little extra effort, one can pull down 11 sub-4000' peaks while climbing the Fours. (One can also view this as an opportunity to revisit 4000-footers while climbing the lower peaks.) This section only includes peaks that can be added to dayhikes without unduly extending them; spending a night out adds many more options.
Bigelow Mountain, The Horns
The only reasonable way to climb Fort Mountain
is via North Brother
(4K). South Brother
and Mount Coe
can be added for a nice loop
, making for a long day with both a slab climb and a bushwhack. If this is too long, South Brother and Mount Coe can be climbed on one day, spending the night in the park before tackling North Brother and Forth Mountain. With the long drive to Baxter from just about anywhere, it's certainly worth getting all four on one trip.
is so close to the 4000-footers of the Bigelow Range that it's an easy decision. A loop of the Fire Warden's Trail, AT, and Horns Pond trail is a classic day hike.
The previously most direct route to Mount Cabot
(4K) is cut off, and the new routes make it easy to pick up the Bulge
and the Horn
. An out-and-back from the north via the Unknown Pond and Kilkenny Ridge trails is an excellent choice, or the Bunnell Notch, Kilkenny Ridge, and Unknown Pond trails form a loop with access from the east.
is occasionally added to Mount Carrigain
(4K). The bushwhack straight down from the summit is notoriously difficult and it's probably better to attack Vose as an out-and-back from Carrigain Notch, on the way to or from Carrigain.
makes a reasonable side trip from Mount Tripyramid
(4K) or, via certain routes, Mount Whiteface
On Killington Peak looking at Mendon Peak.
The Cannon Balls
are named for proximity to Mount Cannon
(4K), making an obvious combination. A short climb up from Coppermine Col on the Kinsman Ridge trail brings one to the Northeast Peak.
Because of their proximity to Killington Peak
(4K), it is tempting to combine Mendon Peak
and Pico Peak
into a large loop. This requires a fairly distant car spot and a lot of bushwhacking on a long day.
The list of Hundred Highest is updated by the Four Thousand Footer Committee when new USGS maps are released with updated elevations for summits and, often more significantly, cols. As a result this list may change and the current lowest elevation of 3769' may shift. This is the list as it currently stands, including the Fours. Note that the Committee takes elevations from the latest quads, interpolating as necessary, and thus the listed elevation may not agree with other sources.
|6||Katahdin, Baxter Peak||ME||5268|
|9||South Twin Mountain||NH||4902|
|12||Mount Eisenhower (Pleasant Dome)||NH||4780|
|13||North Twin Mountain||NH||4761|
|14||Katahdin, Hamlin Peak||ME||4756|
|17||Middle Carter Mountain||NH||4610|
|21||South Carter Mountain||NH||4430|
|22||Wildcat Mountain, A Peak||NH||4422|
|23||Mount Hancock, North Peak||NH||4420|
|25||Kinsman Mountain, South Peak||NH||4358|
|29||Mount Hancock, South Peak||NH||4319|
|30||Mount Pierce (Mount Clinton)||NH||4310|
|31||Kinsman Mountain, North Peak||NH||4293|
|38||Mount Tripyramid, North Peak||NH||4180|
|41||Mount Osceola, East Peak||NH||4156|
|43||Bigelow Mountain, West Peak||ME||4145|
|44||Mount Tripyramid, Middle Peak||NH||4140|
|47||Bigelow Mountain, Avery Peak||ME||4090|
|54||South Crocker Mountain||ME||4050|
|55||Wildcat Mountain, D Peak||NH||4050|
|58||"Owl's Head Mountain"||NH||4025|
|60||The Horn ("Saddleback Horn")||ME||4023|
|62||Mount Redington ||ME||4010|
|70||Snow Mountain (Chain of Ponds)||ME||3960|
|76||Mount Weeks, North Peak||NH||3901|
|77||Mount Weeks, South Peak||NH||3885|
|78||Goose Eye Mountain||ME||3870|
|82||White Cap Mountain||ME||3856|
|87||Bread Loaf Mountain||VT||3835|
|88||"Peak Above the Nubble"||NH||3813|
|89||Bigelow Mountain, South Horn||ME||3805|
|91||East Kennebago Mountain||ME||3791|
|94||Snow Mountain (Cupsuptic)||ME||3784|
|95||Baldpate Mountain, East Peak||ME||3780|
|96||Kennebago Divide, North Peak||ME||3775|
|97||Scar Ridge, West Peak||NH||3774|
|100||Cannon Balls, Northeast Peak||NH||3769|