For serious adventurers on the East Coast who are looking for a challenge, two mountain ranges stand out. The Adirondacks in Upstate New York and The White Mountains in New Hampshire. According to Reddit, prospective mountaineers should choose which mountain range works best for them based on skill level, access to specialized gear, weather tolerance, and landscape preference.
UPDATE: 2022/07/05 15:59 EST BY KATHIA BELLO
We've updated some images and links on this article, as the discussion over the best mountain ranges is still as relevant as ever.
The Adirondack Park is the largest protected area in the United States. The sheer expanse of untouched wilderness is unmatched and unbeatable. For hikers looking for true seclusion and space to breathe, the Adirondacks - also called the Racks by insiders - is a good option.
In 1892, New York state vowed to protect the Racks forever, which means that the mountains have never been tamed. The big mistake hikers make is underestimating the rawness of these mountains. Due to its proximity to New York City, unprepared city folk often make the trip upstate without sufficient planning and end up in potentially dire situations.
Here's one Reddit user commenting on the ruggedness of the mountains.
Since the area is so vast, there is a lot of variety regarding the terrain. For beginners and intermediate hikers, many trail options do not require technical skills or special equipment. However, this does not mean that the mountains cannot become wild and unpredictable. A good rule of thumb is to choose the time of the year carefully and keep it to lower altitudes.
With this in mind, beginners should avoid hiking in the winter and not attempt to summit any of the higher peaks or cross the altitude threshold of 3000ft. At higher altitudes, snow and ice can last well into the summer, so specialized equipment is required for most of the year.
For people looking to challenge themselves, there are some notoriously dangerous trails and peaks to overcome with plenty of steep cliffs, ziplines, and rock scrambles. This Reddit user mentions some of the commonly recognized trails for advanced hikers.
As mentioned previously, before attempting a difficult trail, be sure to plan accordingly. When traversing steep, icy, and loose terrain, the right shoes are crucial to prevent slipping, twisted ankles, and knee strain. Many solid trips are cut short because one person in the group gets injured. Avoid being that person if possible.
This Reddit user commented on the need for microspikes and packing warm clothes. Even if hikers do not anticipate needing special boots, it is worth carrying microspikes as a safety precaution - especially during a scarped descent, where one slip can lead to a long and fatal tumble.
The White Mountains
The White Mountains are part of the Appalachian mountain range and cover a large portion of New Hampshire and parts of Maine. The mountains are famous for having shelters and huts along many of the popular trails for overnight hikers and campers to rest. Overall, the mountainous elevation is higher than that of the Adirondacks, and since it is further up north, there is more snowfall.
These geographical conditions make the White Mountains challenging to hike. However, like the Adirondacks, there are options for beginners. In fact, some mountains are so popular among casual tourists that they tend to be overcrowded. The ease at which some of the trails can be climbed can devalue the experience.
For beginners who don't want to go risk encroaching into dangerous territory, the best way to avoid crowds is to show up early in the morning. In order to summit Mt. Washington by sunrise, hikers would have to begin the journey at around 3 AM. Hiking at night can be a treacherous ordeal so it still requires equipment such as torches, alertness, and extra warmth. This Reddit user recommends a hike that is suitable for beginners.
For hikers who want to experience some of the more difficult trails, there are some rules to follow. Redditors have recommended packing the following gear for day hikes in the winter:
- Emergency bivvy
- Emergency blanket
- Sleeping pad
- Sleeping bag
- Extra puffer
This may seem like overkill for a day hike, but due to the altitude and remoteness of the White Mountains, a simple sprained ankle in the winter could turn deadly. Cell phone reception might not be available and even if it is, it could take over six hours for help to arrive. Without the listed equipment, waiting in the freezing weather for hours without the appropriate gear could prove fatal.
It's probably true that there are more trails for advanced mountaineers in the White Mountains than there are in the Adirondacks. This Reddit user shares some of the more challenging hiking trails. It is not recommended that hikers bring their dogs along on advanced hikes.
Both the Adirondacks and the White Mountains are vast and accessible to all hikers. They have options for beginners and experts. For more untouched seclusion, the Adirondacks might be a better option, whereas if hikers prefer camping, snow, and more challenges, then the White Mountains are probably more suitable as the area has camping shelters, colder weather, and higher peaks. To answer the question as to which sierra is better, hikers should assess their preferences and capacities before making a decision.