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A Complete Appalachian Trail Guidebook.
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  1. #1
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    Default Getting to presidential traverse

    I would like to do the presidential traverse this summer and look to fly to the region and then take a bus to the area. I read of concord bus from logan airport but see it only seems to go to Pinkham notch arriving at 8:10 pm so I wonder where to spend the night as inexpensive as possible and then the next morning taking the amc bus to Appalachia.

    does the concord bus go anywhere else in the region closer to a camping area or would be staying at Joe dodge the only option

  2. #2

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    Assuming Covid is not impacting things again, just take the same bus to Gorham. The least cost is the "Barn" hostel at the Libby House Inn. The AMC shuttle leaves Pinkham and then heads north to Gorham before heading west to Appalachia. They officially stop at the Gorham information both across the town commons (park) from the Barn or the Irving Gas Station a few blocks west on Main street. Be careful when looking for flights, Boston is the best option, the concord bus to Pinkham does not stop at the Manchester airport.

    FYI, if you are planning to do the traditional one day traverse,most folks start around 4:30 AM in the dark to catch sunrise and time it around the summer solstice to maximize daylight. FYI you legally can camp 1/4 of a mile in from the road on most trails along RT 16 or RT 2 (including Appalachia). If you are doing a multi-day traverse its less of an issue. The standard caveat for a one day traverse is unless you are in excellent condition and used to near continuous rockhopping, plan on a bail out as its highly unlikely you will not do it in a day. In many cases, folks only make it half way and there are zero lodging options near the cog base station.

  3. #3
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    Sorry after I posted this I read of the bus going further north to Gotham. Are you saying the hostel is a short walk from the bus stop. Do there happen to be any other places to spend the night cheaply within walking distance. I need to read more of Gotham.

    I am looking to do the hike over three days and will be turning 60 this year but do lots of backpacking and bike packing each year and walk to work each day with a short adventure each weekend.

    i am a tent camper but it looks like staying at the AMC huts would be the simplist and quite interesting.

  4. #4

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    The official Concord bus stop in Gorham is at the Irving Station, generally the Concord bus drivers will drop riders off along the side of the road (if its safe). So if you want to stay at the Barn its 10 to 15 minute walk from the Irving Station (unless the driver lets you off early, if you want a motel room there are several local motels closer to the Irving station. There are also some Air B&Bs spread around town. AMC stops at the Irving in the AM as well as the Gorham Information Booth. FYi, not many quick earluy breakfast options in Gorham beyond White moutnain Cafe and Mc Donalds located inconveniently about halfway between the Barn and Irving. There is a large hikers Hostel in Shelburne but its in the wrong direction and a long walk from the where the bus will drop you off.

    Try to avoid weekends in Gorham, weekends are very busy in town with ATV traffic and guests. Most motels will charge for two or three days on a weekend. FYI, there is a major train track that runs parallel to Main Street in Gorham. Every motel is going to have a late night wakeup call in the middle of the night by a train running through town.

    The huts book up early and they are not cheap. Very convenient but the spacing is set up for a casual hiker. The hike up from Appalachia is at best 3 hours to Madison Hut. That is good as the next day from Madison Hut to Lakes is 6 to 8 hours of rockhopping, add in an extra hour or two if you want to do the summit blue blazes (the AT skips Adams Jefferson Monroe and Eisenhower). Its spectacular on na ice day but exposed as heck on a nice day. The next days hike from Lakes to Crawford Notch is also exposed for 2/3rd of the day but a bit less rock hopping.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 01-09-2022 at 19:08.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for all the info. It is all totally new to me. I have not flown for about twenty years and never been to the area. I looked to drive but about 12 hours from my home which I would do in two days and that would be extremely boring and complicated following the route for me. Unfortunately plan to come by myself which is another reason to at least spend the night around others on a very popular route. I got a lot of info from section Hiker website.

    regarding Covid I have been vexed three times and to my knowledge never had it and no one knows what it may be like in the future but I have debated waiting a year because of that and allowing even more planning.

    I even debate doing a guided small group 3 day trip of the same route but so far see one and two day. I walk and bike over a thousand miles each year on solo drives and trips but will most likely slow going up the mountains and am not a racer and like a slow but continuous pace

  6. #6
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    Concerning huts being able to find a campsite sounds very risky to me. I would prefer a campsite one night and possibly a hut the other night but I am use to backpacking mainly in off seasons and in not as popular areas so that is why simply being able to get a tent site sounds complex there. Am I wrong. Would you recommend any.

    On what I would call standard mountain trails I usually do at least 15 miles a day and am in the lightweight pack range and hike most of the day and start looking for a campsite about an hour or so before dark.

  7. #7

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    Legal Camping along the presidential ridge is a problem. The section you are considering is officially all above treeline from Madison to Eisenhower. So you need to drop off the AT typically 1 mile and 1000 feet of elevation. The only legal campsite is the Valley Way Tentsite below Madison Hut (very busy) and the RMC Perch campsite also very busy and also quite a bit off the AT. I have posted photos of the legal unofficial "campsites" off of the Jewell trail (i mile and 1000 feet elevation loss off the AT. The Ammonunsuc Ravine Trail near Lake of the Clouds (AKA lake of the crowds) is no camping almost to the base of the mountain so not an option. Edmonds Path used to have some campng spots but most got ruined by blowdown several years ago so its long way down before you hit somewhat open woods. Lake of the Clouds is the toughest hut to avoid so I would shoot for a night there. The Perch is doable from Appalachia on the first day for a strong hiker, but it will be long haul for many. So Perch, then Lakes then another long day out to the Highland center. You can camp out in the woods just short of the Highland Center the last night if money is tight. Getting back to Boston is going to eat up a day. There is only one bus that leaves Gorham NH in the early AM to go to Boston and it leaves too early to connect up with ride from Highland Center in Crawfords Notch. So you end up catching a shuttle to Gorham or Pinkham the day after your hike and staying one more night in Gorham before you catch the bus to Boston in the AM. BTW Pinkham does normally have a lower cost bunkroom option at Joe Dodge Lodge but I think it was limited to related groups due to covid last year.

    With respect to Covid, RMCs facilities were closed most of the summer and AMC operated at least part of the season with restrictions on occupancy. Who knows what they will be doing this summer? Unless you sleep wearing a full face Hepa respirator the bunkrooms at Lakes are prime places to catch Covid as is the very cramped eating area. At full occupancy there is no social distancing int he huts unless they keep the occupancy very low.


    There is nothing like the whites along the AT, although the rock parts of the AT in PA are similar but the rocks are much bigger. Many thruhikers cut their daily mileage in half. Until you hike it, you really cant prepare for it.

  8. #8
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    Yes Covid is one reason I debate doing this at all this year. I do not fear it but obviously even after being vaxed it may not be good. I am use to mainly driving by myself and hiking and camping mainly by myself and just passing others every now and then during the day outside on the trails. This is why even being on an airplane or bus to get there and back would not be my favorite even with no pandemic but the trip there would be very educational for future trips. Last October I did an AT section around Damascus VA and had a shuttle with just the driver and later spent one night with one hiker and the owner at a Hostel but I drove there. I did two weekend cycling trips with a group of friends and staying at a hotel each night and ate in the hotel cafeteria but I am mainly the only camper so that has been my largest group activity and just two of us in a room for the night.

    I never thought of doing this until about mid last year as a way to celebrate my 60th birthday. I am interested in doing the full AT and other long trails in retirement so possibly I should just wait.

    All this does make me wonder of coming via plane and bus but instead doing some other form of hike where I would most likely be able to tent camp like the Pemi loop or day hikes up to various mountains and camping in the valley. I don't think I would care to drive because for me I would probably prefer to do one way in three days and that would be a better retirement trip to take my time and see other things along the way.

    I greatly appreciate all the info you have provided and I would welcome any other trails to take in the area especially loops that are easily bus accessible or if you know of any guided routes with the spending the night somewhere included in a small group. I also debate just looking for other more local areas instead where I would drive and spend the night by myself.

  9. #9

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    You can do half Presidential traverses by taking the Auto road hiker shuttle to the summit of Washington (9 AM) and hiking north or south from there. South you can camp at the Neuman tent site, then in the morning hike down to the AMC Highland center and take the AMC shuttle back to the Auto road. Not a scheduled stop, but they will stop on request. You can do the same thing going north, but that's a much longer and harder day to make it to a legal campsite (Osgood in the Great Gulf).

    Another option is the AT between Franconia and Crawford notch is easily done with one or two overnights using the AMC shuttle between.

    There are a number of FS campsites which can be used a base camp and doing day hikes. Pretty much every peak is accessible as a day hike, which is how most people hike in the Whites due to the limited number of designated tent sites. There are a lot of restricted camping areas in the Whites. The steep terrain, rocky ground and dense understory makes camping along trails pretty much impossible, even where it is legal.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  10. #10

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    Logistically Slo-go'ens approach is not much more complicated than doing it as a full backpack. Trail Angels in Berlin https://www.trailangelshikerservices.com/ offers shuttles out of the Berlin Gorham area. What you spend on one night at a hut will just about equal shuttle costs and rides up Mt Washington. The key thing to remember is hiking on the presidential ridge anytime of the year is a crapshot. On a nice day its hard to beat but on a nasty day its dangerous or possibly life threatening. With a backpack you are committed. By breaking it up into two long day hikes you can pick your days. The clouds and weather usually build up over the course of the day from the top down so there is lot to be said for an early morning start from the summit. Ideally you plan on a rest day between the two day hikes as few weekend hikers will be in shape to do two days in row.

  11. #11
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    Logistically Slo-go'ens approach is not much more complicated than doing it as a full backpack. Trail Angels in Berlin https://www.trailangelshikerservices.com/ offers shuttles out of the Berlin Gorham area. What you spend on one night at a hut will just about equal shuttle costs and rides up Mt Washington. The key thing to remember is hiking on the presidential ridge anytime of the year is a crapshot. On a nice day its hard to beat but on a nasty day its dangerous or possibly life threatening. With a backpack you are committed. By breaking it up into two long day hikes you can pick your days. The clouds and weather usually build up over the course of the day from the top down so there is lot to be said for an early morning start from the summit. Ideally you plan on a rest day between the two day hikes as few weekend hikers will be in shape to do two days in row.
    When we went through the Presidentials (very slow hut-to-hut SOBO section early July 2016), we were greeted at Madison by a crew member urging us to NOT continue on to Mt Washington the next day. Wind speeds were in the 70-80 mph range. We met one man who had traveled from Mt Washington that day who said the wind pinned him to the ground three times. We went down to Appalachia the next morning, caught a cab, then went up Ammonusuc Ravine to stay on our itinerary and not lose our reservations.

    And that was just wind.

  12. #12
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    I wonder if there are any good websites or books that would be a good source of doing day hikes up some of the mountains while returning to the valley for camping. I see AMC's Best Day Hikes in the White Mountains and Falcon Guides Hiking the White Mountains. I would love to experience at least some of the presidential range especially Washington even if it involved a different trail each day and needing to shuttle the next day for something different and a different campsite. It would obviously not be good if I planned only one day to be able to get to Washington and there was a storm that day so being in the area for multiple days with an option do do whatever that day would be the best.

  13. #13

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    The AMC White Mountain guide is the "bible" of white moutain hiking and comes with paper maps. The issue with the presidential traverse is it skirts two wilderness areas that are decidedly steep and primitive. The great gulf wilderness has some options to base camp and day hike but the day hikes are very steep. Definitely not first hike in the whites sort of hikes. The hikes on the west side of the ridge are far less aggressive but hard to string together multiple days.

  14. #14

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    Washington can be done as a day hike, several routes to choose from. Being able to pick the day out of a 3 - 4 day window is the trick. In the summer, the summit is often in a cloud come afternoon due to the humidity.

    The AMC White Mountain guide is your definitive source of info. It has lists of trails by level of difficulty for each area of interest, estimated hiking times and detailed trail descriptions and of course the maps.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  15. #15
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    I have that book and printed and computer maps

    thanks

  16. #16
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    Default

    Anyone have any thoughts on renting a car at Logan Airport and driving to the area. Looks to be much quicker but much more expensive than taking the bus but would a rental car have advantages visiting the area other than an earlier arrival.

  17. #17

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    Yes, a rental car make things a lot quicker. In this case fly into Manchester NH or Portland Maine (Portland is slightly closer to Mt Washington than Manchester but the drive up is on state highway versus an interstate from Manchester and skip the nightmare of driving through Boston.

  18. #18

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    Having a car available would make doing day hikes a lot easier. There are 48, 4,000 footers and 58 peaks under 4K with a view to choose from. Base camping at one of the many campgrounds and doing day hikes lets you cover a lot more ground and see a lot more views then a linear hike would, given the limited places that can be done.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  19. #19

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    For example. an in shape hiker can fly up on Sunday AM rent a car, than drive up to North Conway NH and then up through Crawford Notch and up to Jefferson NH. Using google maps or equivalent find the Valley road and then the north end of Jefferson Notch road, then car camp along the north end of Jefferson Notch road. These are not official sites, but seem to be tolerated by the national forest staff, just pull over at spots along the road before the high spot of the road Early next AM head south up over the highest public road in NH then down to the Base Station road, take a left and head up the Base Station road, then park at the Ammonusuc Ravine/Jewell Trail Lot. Self pay for a parking pass) then hike up the Jewell Trail to the AT (Gulfside Trail) then south on the AT up to Mt Washington, then south on the AT (Crawford Path) to Lake of the Clouds, then down the Ammonusuc Ravine Trail and back to the parking lot. The next day think about a day off or a short day. The third day if its during a weekend day head over to Franconia Notch very early (plan to arrive around sunrise) and park at the Lafayette Place parking lot. Then hike up the Old Bridal Path to Greenleaf hut, fill up you water bottles then hike up Lafayette to the AT (Franconia Ridge Trail) then south on the AT along the Franconia Ridge to the Haystack. Then down Falling Water Trails. About half way down the trail crosses and follows along a series of waterfalls then eventually head back to where you started. Both hikes have to be hiked on good days as they are exposed by someone in shape. Car camp a last night at Lafayette Place campground (reservations and fee) then head back over the Kancamangus Highway back to Portland or head south on I 93 to Manchester. Catch a late flight home. If you have extra days a hike up Mt Adams via the Airline from Appalachia down the Madson Hut with an optional hike to Mt Madison and then back down the Valley way to Appalachia gets you to another much different view of the Great Gulf and Mt Washington.

  20. #20
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    Thanks for the info. By the way what are the details of a place with self pay for parking. Do they only take cash and do they simply trust you to leave the correct amount in an envelope you place in a container or is there also some form of electronic card reader or both options. Can prices vary per location and can you give me an example of the cost.

    I have not flown for about twenty years and it was to Boston where with my wife we rented a car and drove to Cape Cod. I do not remember anything from the airport or drive but I would prefer the shortest drive to the area and least amount of big city driving and wondered about flying to Manchester.

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