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  1. #1

    Default White Mountains > Presidential Traverse > Hammock Camping Advise

    My buddy and I are going to do a 2-day, 1-night (hopefully) or maybe a 3-day, 2-night (second option) Presidential Traverse in mid-July this year. I am specifically looking for some info on the logistics of using our hammocks.

    I understand there is no camping in the Alpine Zones so most, if not all, of our sleeping options will require a descent off the ridge to either a designated camping area, or at least a suitable forrest area that falls within the camping regulations.

    I guess I am looking for advice on the best, or at least, good hammock camping areas along the Traverse. Preferably ones that you may have used in the past.

    Second, I would also appreciate any general tips or advise for this hike. We did almost half of the Pemi loop (four years ago) but chose to leave the loop and head down to the valley due to forecasted 50 - 60 mph winds and heavy rain with lightning. Unfortunately we were in a time crunch and were not able to go back up to complete the loop. Bummer.

    Any advise will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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  2. #2

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    You'll have to descend steeply 2000 feet or more to get into hardwoods suitable for hammocks. Basically, there are no good options to do that.

    Pony up the big bucks and stay at Lake of Clouds or stay home.
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  3. #3

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    Ok, so if we don't take our hammocks, then I am guessing there are camping areas for tents? There has to be camp areas because people do this stretch in two or three days which means there is at least one or maybe two overnights.

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  4. #4
    Registered User
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    09-16-2007
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    Montpelier, VT
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    68
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    As Slo-go'en wrote, you may want to stay at Lake of the Clouds hut. It is not clear how much of the Presidential Traverse you are doing. There are campsite, where I assume one could put up a hammock, at Liberty Springs, Garfield Ridge, Ethan Pond, Neiman (next to Mizpah Springs hut), and below Mt. Madison in two directions. You could start by looking at a map, which shows the campsites and determine if you want to hike the distances.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by GreatLakesBackpacker View Post
    Ok, so if we don't take our hammocks, then I am guessing there are camping areas for tents? There has to be camp areas because people do this stretch in two or three days which means there is at least one or maybe two overnights.

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    Huts don't allow tents. If you pay to stay you avoid having to hike down below treeline. Whether you stay at official sites or not you still have to go up and down to get into the trees. When wanting to use my hammock at official sites I do whatever they person running the camp tells me to, as most of them have a host to control the masses. Sometimes they put me in a great spot, sometimes it sucks, but they have a really hard job so I don't argue with them.

    Your options are are really between paying to stay on trail or hiking down and back up to camp in the trees.
    The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait until that other is ready...~Henry David Thoreau

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  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by GreatLakesBackpacker View Post
    Ok, so if we don't take our hammocks, then I am guessing there are camping areas for tents? There has to be camp areas because people do this stretch in two or three days which means there is at least one or maybe two overnights.Sent from my SM-G781V using Tapatalk
    They stay at the huts. There is camping at the Nauman tent site near Crawford Notch at the south end and at the Osgood site at the north end, but are very far apart. A thru hiker can do that in a day if they hustle, but normal people can't.

    There are two tent sites below Mt Adams and Mt Madison, but they are below the ridge by a good mile and 1000 or more feet. They have limited space and fill up quickly from people hiking up from the valley, so by the time someone doing a traverse gets there, there is no more room and your pretty much screwed at that point.

    Mid July is the peak of the season in the Whites and the number of people showing up is exceeding the capacity of the area to handle by a lot.

    So, what are your options?
    1) Stay at the huts. Expensive yes, but it makes it so, so much easier. Only getting reservations for the dates you want might not be possible at this time.

    2) Split the hike in half and do it in two segments. There is a hiker shuttle from the MT Washington auto road to the summit at 9AM. You then hike either south or north.

    There is a AMC shuttle which gets you around from one end to the other. On request, they will stop at the auto road. You'd only have to use the shuttle after doing the southern leg to Crawford. From Osgood, you can walk to the auto road.

    So, if you did the north end first, Washington to Pinkham, with an early start from Osgood you could get back to the auto road in time for the 9AM shuttle to the summit, then head for Nauman. Then use the morning AMC shuttle back to the Auto road to pick up your car.
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  7. #7

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    FYI You can not practically or legally drop down off the ridgeline on all side Trails.

    https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE...rdb5363715.pdf

    Generally when going from South to North, taking any path to your right puts you in nasty territory and almost always in wilderness area so you need to be 200 feet off the trail. In many cases you are losing a lot of elevation before you encounter anything suitable to hang a hammock.

    Ir you take a left, Edmands Path has suitable trees about1/2 mile down the trail and water along the way.

    Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail is no camping all the way down to past Gem Pool. Its long long way down.

    Jewell Trail has some rough camping down below treeline but its very exposed and the trees are small,, my guess you are on the ground.

    There are no good options off of Jefferson, they are all very long downs.

    As mentioned RMC has some legal sites that get mobbed on Adams.

    Great Gully is no where you want to go unless an uncontrolled fall is on your list

    Valley Way campsite is mobbed all the time. There are some trees downslope on a steep slope that would work for hammocks.

    Howker Ridge and the Daniel Webster Scout trail are both very long hikes down.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    They stay at the huts. There is camping at the Nauman tent site near Crawford Notch at the south end and at the Osgood site at the north end, but are very far apart. A thru hiker can do that in a day if they hustle, but normal people can't.

    There are two tent sites below Mt Adams and Mt Madison, but they are below the ridge by a good mile and 1000 or more feet. They have limited space and fill up quickly from people hiking up from the valley, so by the time someone doing a traverse gets there, there is no more room and your pretty much screwed at that point.

    Mid July is the peak of the season in the Whites and the number of people showing up is exceeding the capacity of the area to handle by a lot.

    So, what are your options?
    1) Stay at the huts. Expensive yes, but it makes it so, so much easier. Only getting reservations for the dates you want might not be possible at this time.

    2) Split the hike in half and do it in two segments. There is a hiker shuttle from the MT Washington auto road to the summit at 9AM. You then hike either south or north.

    There is a AMC shuttle which gets you around from one end to the other. On request, they will stop at the auto road. You'd only have to use the shuttle after doing the southern leg to Crawford. From Osgood, you can walk to the auto road.

    So, if you did the north end first, Washington to Pinkham, with an early start from Osgood you could get back to the auto road in time for the 9AM shuttle to the summit, then head for Nauman. Then use the morning AMC shuttle back to the Auto road to pick up your car.
    Thanks for the info. I definitely did know any of that. It looks like we may need to rethink how we plan to do this. Although, this is exactly why I asked the question.

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  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    FYI You can not practically or legally drop down off the ridgeline on all side Trails.

    https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE...rdb5363715.pdf

    Generally when going from South to North, taking any path to your right puts you in nasty territory and almost always in wilderness area so you need to be 200 feet off the trail. In many cases you are losing a lot of elevation before you encounter anything suitable to hang a hammock.

    Ir you take a left, Edmands Path has suitable trees about1/2 mile down the trail and water along the way.

    Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail is no camping all the way down to past Gem Pool. Its long long way down.

    Jewell Trail has some rough camping down below treeline but its very exposed and the trees are small,, my guess you are on the ground.

    There are no good options off of Jefferson, they are all very long downs.

    As mentioned RMC has some legal sites that get mobbed on Adams.

    Great Gully is no where you want to go unless an uncontrolled fall is on your list

    Valley Way campsite is mobbed all the time. There are some trees downslope on a steep slope that would work for hammocks.

    Howker Ridge and the Daniel Webster Scout trail are both very long hikes down.
    Thank you for the info. We now have some serious things to contemplate. It seems we have many fewer options than when we attempted the Pemi loop several years ago.

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  10. #10
    Registered User
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    12-06-2007
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    Washington, DC
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    47
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    56

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    Check out the Perch campsite run by the Randolph Mountain Club (RMC) tent platforms and if a little over crowded they have (in the past) directed me to near by spots to pitch a tent. They also have a cabin off of MT Adams which is way cheaper than the AMC huts without the service.

  11. #11

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    FYI, RMCs cabins (they have two of them, gray knob and Crag camp) were closed due to Covid last year and they have not announced if an how they will run the huts this year.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by DCHiker View Post
    Check out the Perch campsite run by the Randolph Mountain Club (RMC) tent platforms and if a little over crowded they have (in the past) directed me to near by spots to pitch a tent. They also have a cabin off of MT Adams which is way cheaper than the AMC huts without the service.
    Thank you. I will look into that as an option.

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  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    FYI, RMCs cabins (they have two of them, gray knob and Crag camp) were closed due to Covid last year and they have not announced if an how they will run the huts this year.
    Ok. Thank you.

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  14. #14

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    Okay, so just when I thought all of my questions had been answered, I have one more. I hope someone can provide some sound advice.

    My buddy and I are being shuttled (AMC shuttle) to Appalachia. We were going to hike up Valley Way to the ridge and then hit the summits of Madison and Adams. After that I figured it would be late enough in the day (we probably will not be able to hit the Valley Way Trail until roughly 10:00 am) that we would need to call it a day and head down to The Perch or Gray Knob or Crag Camp.


    Just yesterday, Sintax77 posted a new video ( Hammock Camping the Six Husbands Trail https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tp4ZHxRPjv8&t=3440s ). He began at Pinkham Notch, hiked north on the Madison Gulf Trail, west on Great Gulf, crossed the Peabody River at the Wamsutta Trail and went north a ways toward the Six Husband's Trail where he found two unofficial but legal camp areas (they had tent symbols on a post). Anyway, he mentioned that he has used similar unofficial but legal camp areas at the intersection of the Sphinx and Great Gulf trails.


    My buddy suggested we hike up the Valley Way and hit Madison, Adams, as originally planned but then continue on to Jefferson. Then we would make our way south to the Sphinx Trail, descend to where it meets the Great Gulf Trail and then attempt to find one of those legal camp areas. He said the next morning we could simply take the Great Gulf Trail up to Mt. Washington and continue south from there.


    Initially we thought we thought about hiking to the Jewell Trail on our first day and then descending to find the very limited off-trail camping area. But, someone said that would be a very ambitious goal (meaning, probably not a good idea) to make it that far on the first day, especially since we were getting such a late start at Appalachia.


    So, here are my questions. Looking at my trail map, it appears that the route from Appalachia to the intersection of Sphinx and Great Gulf is roughly 10 miles. Considering the terrain and our 10:00 am start at Appalachia, is that just as "ambitious" as trying to make it to the Jewell Trail (it appears to be roughly the same distance as Jewell)? I have read that descending the Sphinx is quite rough, the rocks can be wet and slippery and the trail is easy to lose in certain areas. Has anyone used one of those camp areas near the Great Gulf Trail? What is it like hiking up to Washington on the Great Gulf Trail? Should we attempt this way or stick to the original plan of spending the night at Perch, Crag or Gray Knob?

  15. #15

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    Glad you asked, do not go into the Great Gulf via the Sphinx or ascend via the Great Gulf trail. Sphinx is the less bad than Six Husbands and GG but still very steep and rough. The upper section is a stream bed so you have potential for wet hiking. There are no camping options until you get down to Great Gulf trail and those legal spots get used. The upper great gulf trail past Sphinx is closed to camping and the woods are quite thick. The Great Gulf trail is an active rock slide in sections, In some places its 1 step up and two steps sliding down. its major elevation loss and gain. Jewell is still an elevation loss but a graded trail with good footing. On one of ten basis the Jewell is one, Sphinx is an 8 and GG is 9 bordering on 10.

    BTW there is strong rumor that the RMC huts will be open August 1st.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    Glad you asked, do not go into the Great Gulf via the Sphinx or ascend via the Great Gulf trail. Sphinx is the less bad than Six Husbands and GG but still very steep and rough. The upper section is a stream bed so you have potential for wet hiking. There are no camping options until you get down to Great Gulf trail and those legal spots get used. The upper great gulf trail past Sphinx is closed to camping and the woods are quite thick. The Great Gulf trail is an active rock slide in sections, In some places its 1 step up and two steps sliding down. its major elevation loss and gain. Jewell is still an elevation loss but a graded trail with good footing. On one of ten basis the Jewell is one, Sphinx is an 8 and GG is 9 bordering on 10.

    BTW there is strong rumor that the RMC huts will be open August 1st.
    Thank you for the info, it is very much appreciated! I read in the White Mountain Guide book that this was a fairly rough trail. It also said it was easy to lose the trail in the areas where it crosses the stream. Book knowledge is fine but first-hand knowledge is even better.

    I've never inquired about the Great Gulf because we never considered that route (Sphinx & GG) so that was very helpful as well. I passed the info along to my buddy and we basically agreed this was not the route we want to attempt so we are sticking with our first option.

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  17. #17

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    The trail crew is currently occupying Crag and the RMC is having trouble finding a caretaker for Gray Knob, so if one isn't found soon, the cabin will remain closed. There is no suitable place to hammock at the Perch, it's all small, densely packed conifers. Since the Perch is currently the only place one can camp in the area and has very limited space, getting there late in the day is not a good idea. The Log Cabin could be an option, but it's a long ways away (1.5 miles and another big loss in elevation).

    Your only real option is to camp at the Valley Way tent site and get a very, very early start in the morning so you can reach the Nauman tent site before dark. And make sure it's on a week day. (and pray for good weather, which we haven't had much of lately)
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