Considered to be one of the most dangerous hikes in the world, the summit of Mount Washington is both a daring and rewarding feat. While the hike is just over eight miles round-trip (depending on which route a hiker chooses), it doesn't come without its challenges, many of which have claimed lives.

For over a century, Mount Washington has claimed the lives of more than 150 people. Standing at 6,288 feet, this mountain is definitely one that gives hikers that sensational feeling of wanderlust. Whether it was due to being unprepared, getting lost or stranded, or not anticipating the mountain's rapid weather changes, many don't realize the danger before they set on on their trek. For those planning to hike this summit, it's better to know what not to do before seeking the peak.


There Are Many Trails To The Top, Choose Wisely

As the tallest mountain in New England, it's not surprising to know that there are many different ways to reach the top. From the east, the trails, in order of popularity according to the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center are the Tuckerman Ravine, Tuckerman-Lion Head, Boott Spur, Huntington Ravine, Nelson Craig, and Great Gulf trails. These all include access trail info, free parking, the outfitter store, dining, and lodging.

From the west, the trail options are Ammonoosuc Ravine and the Jewell trails. Between the north and south, The Gulfside Trail and Crawford paths are the best options. These trails are the most popular and while there might be more, these are the most traveled. It's best to stick to well-known trails, lest a hike becomes more challenging than necessary. If you want to forgo the hike altogether, the Auto Road is also an option.

Review The Weather Forecast

This is a common mistake that's made when hiking Mount Washington. This mountain isn't considered dangerous for no reason. The highest wind speed ever recorded on the mountain was 231 MPH, which, obviously, can spell tragedy for a hiker standing on the summit.

Furthermore, the lowest windchill was recorded at -102 degrees, making temperatures unpredictable and unsteady. Since the summit sees hurricane-force winds roughly 110 days out of the year, checking the forecast or calling the visitor center is the easiest way to protect yourself and others.

Don't Count On The Hiker Shuttle To Bring You Back Down

While the hiker shuttle is a great option for coming down from the summit, it's often overcrowded and sold out quickly. The bus is first come, first serve, and since no reservations are taken, there's no guarantee a hiker will secure a spot on the bus - especially when hiking with a group.

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At Minimum, The Hike Will Take Eight Hours Or More

The shortest trail is just over four miles to the summit, plus another four on the way down. If you choose a longer trail with less steep terrain, the hike can easily be ten miles or a little more. This is something to prepare accordingly for, as it's the endurance and stamina that are often the biggest concern for hikers on Mount Washington. Pacing the hike and taking breaks to hydrate and eat when necessary are the key to a successful summit.

Related: 10 Things Everyone Forgets To Pack When Hiking

This Mountain Is, First And Foremost, Home To The World's Worst Weather

There are days when the summit will be completely immersed in cloud cover. There are also some summer days when it could feel like a cold autumn day, depending on the front that moved in overnight. Thunderstorms are also not unusual, and all of these things have been responsible for stranding hikers on the mountainside, some in need of rescue. This, combined with steep and unsteady terrain - much of it a challenging rock scramble - can quickly lead to a downhill battle, literally.

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