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Hiking the Presidential Range in One Day

email Scott Turner

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On June 15, 1996 a beautiful gift was given to me, of a very full day's hike over marvelous and uncompromising mountains. This had been my dream for 6 years, initiated when I learned that David Souter, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, had once crossed the Presidential Range of New Hampshire's White Mountains via the Appalachian Trail in a day. The more I planned for it, the more unlikely it seemed that I could ever accomplish it. Finally, encouraged by my wife Kathy to leave her and the kids behind, I committed myself to try. I thank God for the success.

For another perspective on the Presidential Range, with photos, there's a beautiful web page by Darren Almeida, Danny, and Mike. Dave Metsky has a nice page describing a one-day traverse of the Presidentials as done by himself and some friends.


In one day I hiked the Applachian Trail from Pinkham Notch to Mt. Jackson, a distance of more than 24 miles, deviating from that trail only to reach 10 summits, including the 4 highest peaks in the Northeast and 4 other recognized 4000-footers.

The Hiker

I'm a 47 year old guy who simply loves hiking the trails, especially when they provide wide views, as above the treeline in the Presidential Range. Birds add to the beauty for me, as I can identify most of the bird songs heard in the New Hampshire woods. There are beautiful places in the mountains, but my inclination is to enjoy them more in the journey and in the moment of arrival, then look forward to moving on.


  • June 13: With good weather forecast, decided to aim for June 15. Made reservations at AMC lodges for the night before and after.
  • June 14: At work, got my boss's permission to take the rest of the day off. Returned home, packed, travelled to Crawford Notch, left some gear, and continued on to the AMC Pinkham Notch Lodge.
  • June 15
    • 0300: Got up.
    • 0330: Set out on the Appalachian Trail, using headlamp.
    • 0420: Put away headlamp.
    • 0520: Left foot slipped on a smooth wet rock, twisting my ankle painfully.
    • 0808: Passed over Mt. Madison summit.
    • 0828-0854: Visited Madison Hut.
    • 0931-0939: On summit of Mt. Adams.
    • 1107-1113: On summit of Mt. Jefferson.
    • 1203-1215: On summit of Mt. Clay
    • 1304-1351: On summit of Mt. Washington.
    • 1442-1505: Visited Lakes of the Clouds Hut.
    • 1505-1535: Hiked loop trail over Mt. Monroe summit.
    • 1535-1617: Hiked Crawford Path and loop over Mt. Franklin summit.
    • 1617-1634: Hiked loop trail over Mt. Eisenhower summit.
    • 1732: Passed over Mt. Pierce summit.
    • 1755-1809: Visited Mizpah Springs Hut.
    • 1859-1912: On summit of Mt. Jackson.
    • 2100: Ended hike at AMC Crawford Notch Hostel.
  • June 16: Took AMC shuttle back to my car at Pinkham Notch, and drove home.

Critical Points

Early planning and the process of deciding to attempt the hike made success possible.

When I twisted my left ankle, the fall was such a shock that I despaired for minutes of any chance of continuing. Any other day the resulting tenderness would have stopped me for fear of doing lasting damage, but I knew that this particular day's hike was such an important personal goal that it was a risk I would take. It wasn't a life-and-death matter, because there were 15 hours of daylight remaining. I continued up the trail and found that the tenderness was bearable. At times during the day, with the help of Advil, the pain just about stopped.

At 0430 I took my first break. I could easily have pushed on, as I have in the past. But on past mountain hikes I had not gotten farther than about 16 miles in a day before feeling too sore to continue. Keeping to a cautious early pace and taking care to rest made a great difference later on.

At the summit of Mt. Washington, I had no sooner purchased a bowl of hot chili than it started to rain. I thank God that my boots didn't get wet.

Leaving Lakes of the Clouds Hut and heading up Mt. Monroe, my legs and feet felt good despite having 13 miles behind them.

At Mizpah Springs Hut I had to decide whether to continue to the summit of Mt. Jackson and risk getting down after dark. My figures indicated that I could just about make it, the last part of the trail was one that I had hiked before, and I decided to go for Mt. Jackson.

Ascending Mt. Jackson my left knee began to give me pain. This bothered and slowed me during the last two hours of the hike, and for a week afterward.


  • Whatever your goal, keep working on your plan until you're ready, and go for it. (Note that an extended mountain hike such as mine requires experience, planning, and conditioning beyond what I have described or even hinted at in this web page. Preparations must realistically address risks to life and limb.)
  • Don't let age stop you. I was 42 years old when the idea stuck in my head. At times it seemed the chance to make this hike had passed me by 15 years ago, and that knee and foot problems would be with me for the rest of my life. Not so. 47 can be a nice age. In addition to the mandatory downhill, aging has some uphills, too.
  • When on a long hike, take rests. Your feet and joints will thank you.
  • Plan on adapting to conditions and circumstances. Don't use your plan to push yourself to a fast pace, especially during the first 1/3 of your journey.
  • At rest stops, keep a written log. This is lighter than a camera, and can better record what's important to you.
  • By staying on the trail and by packing out what trash you find, leave the mountains as wild as you found them.

If this page piqued your interest, and you would like more information such as my checklist or trail notes, reach me at

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