Mount Jefferson, Caps Ridge Trail

Berlin, New Hampshire

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5 Reviews
4 out of 5
With a trailhead elevation of just over 3,000 feet, the Caps Ridge Trail attains the summit of a major Presidential Peak with less elevation gain than any other path. It is also the shortest White Mountain route to timberline. Regrettably, direct mountain routes that sound this good often conceal a truth that is less appealing. In fact, this is a difficult and challenging climb that turns back many hikers who only focus on the elevation gain and distance statistics. The Ridge of the Caps is the mountainous spine that runs westerly from the summit of Mount Jefferson to the height of Jefferson Notch. The “Caps” are two large areas of bulging rock that act as huge steps in the steep ascent of the ridge. Negotiating these caps requires the use of hands and feet to clamber over rocks and up short faces of slab. Detour routes are available at some spots that look nearly impossible, but the precarious footing and constant exposure on long stretches of trail above timberline limit this hike to a fair-weather adventure for hikers in good condition. Special attractions: Alpine vegetation on the Monticello Lawn, a look into the Great Gulf's abyss, and high-altitude views of the Presidential Peaks.
Hiking New Hampshire

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Hiking New Hampshire

by Larry Pletcher (Falcon Guides)

With a trailhead elevation of just over 3,000 feet, the Caps Ridge Trail attains the summit of a major Presidential Peak with less elevation gain than any other path. It is also the shortest White Mountain route to timberline. Regrettably, direct mountain routes that sound this good often conceal a truth that is less appealing. In fact, this is a difficult and challenging climb that turns back many hikers who only focus on the elevation gain and distance statistics.

The Ridge of the Caps is the mountainous spine that runs westerly from the summit of Mount Jefferson to the height of Jefferson Notch. The “Caps” are two large areas of bulging rock that act as huge steps in the steep ascent of the ridge. Negotiating these caps requires the use of hands and feet to clamber over rocks and up short faces of slab. Detour routes are available at some spots that look nearly impossible, but the precarious footing and constant exposure on long stretches of trail above timberline limit this hike to a fair-weather adventure for hikers in good condition. Special attractions: Alpine vegetation on the Monticello Lawn, a look into the Great Gulf's abyss, and high-altitude views of the Presidential Peaks.

©  Larry Pletcher/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Berlin
Distance: 5.3
Elevation Gain: 2,700 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Difficult
Local Contacts: Ammonoosuc Ranger Station
Local Maps: USGS Mount Washington 7.5 x 15.
Driving Directions: Directions to Mount Jefferson, Caps Ridge Trail

Recent Trail Reviews

8/7/2010
0

After a hike up Ammonoosuc Ravine, summitting Washington and taking the Gulf Side trail over to Caps ridge for the trip down, this was a little challanging in places for weary legs with full packs. It's probably a little easier to navigate going up than down.


9/12/2009
1

This is a great way to get up Mount Washington, because you are starting at such a high elevation – 3008 feet. We started at about 10AM and (after peaking Jefferson and Clay) were in the Summit House before the last train down. Of course, we didn't take that 5pm train, but the chili was pretty good, and we used the bathrooms, filled up the water bottles and headed down to Hermit Lake shelter, using the Lions Head Trail. We had not reserved any space but were greeted and enjoyed our assigned hut, picnic table, and the bathrooms thoroughly. The hike back up Tuckerman's Ravine in the morning - to Lakes in The Clouds shelter - was truly stunning in the morning sun. We had a second car parked at the base of Crawford Notch. So, after peaking Monroe, Franklin, Eisenhower, and Pierce, and visiting the Mitzpah Shelter (where a second night would have been nice) we headed down a couple miles to a fork in the trail where several of us continued on Crwaford Notch Trail and went to the AMC Highlander Lodge, while the drivers went across the bridge to where the car was parked and took the (relatively short) drive back to the Caps Ridge Trailhead where we began the day before.


8/13/2006
2

We left a car at the Cog Railway parking area and then headed over to the Caps Ridge trail. This was an interesting hike with some fun scrambles, and not as intimidating as we thought it might be. No sense of falling off! The views come quickly and are wonderful. It's a relatively quick route up to the base of Jefferson over the Caps. The route up to the top of Jefferson is difficult to see with yellow markings here and there. Watch your footing! After Jefferson we walked along the Gulf Trail with great views of Mount Washington straight ahead, and the frequent sound of hooting from the Cog Railway. You also run into AT through hikers which makes for some interesting brief conversations. We descended by the Jewell tail, meeting folks coming off Mt. Washington. It's a long trek down. The whole hike took us 7 hours, with a stop for lunch. Cold and windy on top, so dress prepared! Overall, a really nice hike with really great views.


9/8/2003
2

We found Caps Ridge to be an excellent route to the top of Jefferson. While moderately steep, and somewhat of a scramble in spots, it was quite manageable by this old climber. With the views coming up quickly, we took plenty of time to enjoy the impressive views of the ravines, ridges, and the railway. A few interesting semi-technical sections brought us over the Caps in good time. Many areas of alpine vegetation added color and beauty to this spectacular range. The network of trails that diverge from Caps Ridge, and from the summit, make this a great appraoch to other peaks in the Range. Most reasonably conditioned climbers would do better than our three hours to the top. We were fortunate enough to have picked a clear, sunny day so we continued over to Adams. We skirted around the summit of Jefferson on the return, taking the Gulfside and Cornice Trails back, intersecting Caps Ridge Trail again just above the top Cap. The return would best be made in daylight due to the extensive amount of rock-hopping and scrambling down the Caps. As winter brings ice and snow, this will require an extra measure of caution on this trail.


12/28/2001
0

My hiking group, The Breakfast Whiskey Trekkers and myself(just recently hooked up with these guys),do a hike every july deemed The Death March. This years trek had began on the Caps Ridge Trail ascending Jefferson. From which we continued on to ascend Mt.Adams, as well as Mt.Maddison. T'was an awesome hike, too bad we were mostly in cloud cover except for a few brief moments. But in general, I believe it's a great way to access the three presidentials. Especially if you have a drop off at the trail head, meet up with the gulf side trail, to lowes path, then over to the daniel webster trail, to camp at Dolly Copp. Happy Trails



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