Hiking Mount Jackson in the Winter
Ever since our first taste of winter hiking back when we failed Mount Whiteface and Mount Passaconaway, we knew that with the correct gear winter hiking was going to be an adventure we couldn’t say no too.
After investing in the proper winter hiking essentials like snowshoes, micro-spikes, and shell layers. We hit winter hiking full force this year having already conquered Mount Monadnock and Boston’s Blue Hills
This time around, we turned our attention to another 4000 footer to tick off our list, and with wanting some fun adventure thrills our next big hike with a view was Mount Jackson in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Spending the Night in Maine
Saturday marked a travel day for us as we opted to see one of Megan’s good friends in Maine and also spend the night. It was great getting to see her new house and hangout with her and her dogs for a few hours, especially since being so far away limits our time to spend together.
Driving to Mount Jackson
We spent the night and got up at 6:30am to start our journey to the mountain.
After twisting and turning our way though Maine and New Hampshire’s backroads we finally emerged onto the NH 302 and winded our way up to the trail head. The parking area is just south of the AMC lodge and a smidge north of the hiking parking lot.
We arrived to the foot of Mount Jackson at around 9am and after reorganizing the truck, getting our hiking gear on, we took off up the trail for what was originally going to be a two-peak-bagged day.
Starting the Hike
Once we crossed the road and climbed the snowbank lining the edge of the road, we immediately put our micro-spikes on and started our gradual ascent uphill towards the summit of Mount Jackson.
The trail was absolutely gorgeous with what a fresh coat of snow on all of the trees and rocks around. Thankfully we weren’t the first ones of todays trail and the powder had already been packed down.
No snowshoes needed today!
Elephant’s Head and Bugle Cliff
As we made our way up, we passed the outlook for the Elephants Head lookout point, which we opted to pass and save for the way down.
After a short bit more we came across another lookout called Bugle Cliff which was just off the trail and offered an incredible view of the road below and Crawford Notch.
We kept trudging along for the remainder of the first mile until we hit the trail junction of Jackson and Webster, we turned left for the final 1.5 mile push to the top of Mount Jackson and the real incline and climbing came in.
The trail was absolutely gorgeous with the fresh snow and the surrounding mountains poking through the trees, it made the suffering that much more enjoyable.
Final Push to the Summit of Mount Jackson
When we got within reach of the Mount Jackson summit, we noticed the elevation gain starting to get serious, and of course in true White Mountains fashion there was a very steep scramble on the final push to the summit.
Summit of Mount Jackson
After picking the route carefully on the icy ascent, we summited and found a good place to sit down out of the wind and eat a quick snack and take it all in, it always amazes me that despite barely seeing anyone on the trail as we made our way up, there is always a bunch of people hanging out at the top.
Trying for Mount Webster
After lounging around in the sun for a bit, we put our snacks away and our packs back on as we decided we had enough time to make the 1.5 mile push to add Mount Webster to our current hike. The original plan was Jackson, and only if we had time to add Webster.
With time on our side, we set off down a super steep rock face that if for any reason we had to turn around, was going to be a looming challenge.
Immediately after starting towards Webster we noticed a clear difference between the trail up to Jackson and this one bridging to Webster, the snow was pretty deep as if it hasn’t been fully broken in yet. When we started the hike we opted not to bring our snowshoes because of how packed the trail was, but this 1 mile trail was proving to be a little more challenging then thought with the fresh powder and constant post-holing.
After two hours on the one mile trail we reached the junction of the Jackson-Webster Trail where we had to decide if it was worth adding an additional half mile to summit Webster and back, never mind the 3 mile decent from our current point.
After looking at the time, and knowing we still had a 4 hour drive back home to Rhode Island we decided a treeless summit just wasn’t worth it right now.
We decided to make our way back down the trail and noticed immediately that when we we’re back on the Jackson-Webster trail the snow was packed down much better which offered a quick descent.
Back to the Trail Head
About an hour and a half later we were finally starting to see the road poke through the trees as we reached our starting point. There was much fewer cars parked next to us then when we started, not to mention the sun was just starting to set.
The light was absolutely gorgeous shining over the neighboring mountains, so of course I had to stop a snap this picture of my Nissan Xterra Pro-4X.
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