Winter Trail Access to White Mountain Huts
Getting to the huts in winter is very different from summer! Here's some information on the trails in winter. All trails will be easier if hikers use ski poles and wear something on their feet for traction (see below for more details).
The following are general midwinter recommendations and all travel times are approximate. Please note: winter weather and conditions are subject to change and hikers must be prepared for varied conditions and slow travel times. Be sure to check current conditions online or call us at 603-466-2721 for the latest trail conditions and trail information before you head out.
2. Basin Cascade to Cascade Brook Trail: Basin to hut, 2.5 miles, two hours. This trail follows a river and requires much snow and cold weather to be a good ski. It does not see much use and can be hard to follow if not packed out. Snowshoes or skis are recommended.
3. Cascade Brook Trail (Appalachian Trail): 3 miles, two and a half hours. This trail does not have a parking area so does not see much use. Terrain is similar to Basin Cascade.
4. Other Options: There are many other more difficult trails to the hut that are not as direct. These trails require snowshoes and are not for beginners or slow-moving groups.1. Zealand Road to Zealand Trail: 6 miles total: 3.2 miles on Zealand Road (closed to cars), 2.8 miles on Zealand Trail, three and a half hours total. It can be a great ski up the road for beginner or intermediate skiers. The trail usually needs more snow cover than the road but is also a good ski. You can also snowshoe up the trail, but use care not to disrupt the ski track.
2. Spruce Goose Trail to Zealand Trail: 6.9 miles total: 4.1 miles to Zealand Trail junction, 2.8 miles on Zealand Trail, four hours total. Start on Zealand Road, cross the Ammonoosuc River on a bridge, pass a trailhead for the Flat Iron Ski Trail, and 50 feet later come to the blue-blazed Spruce Goose Ski Trail. It may be skiable by intermediate to advanced backcountry skiers.
3. Avalon to AZ Trail: 5.5 miles, four-plus hours. You'll need snowshoes and route-finding skills after new snow on this trail, which is not a very easy trail to hike in winter. This route is not recommended for beginners or slow-moving groups and could take longer than expected when the trail is not broken.
4. Ethan Pond Trail: 7.3 miles, five hours. This is a very good ski, but you'd better get an early start if you want to make the hut by dark. Sections of this trail are likely to be tracked out, but on other parts you might be breaking trail.1. 19-Mile Brook Trail: 3.8 miles, can probably be done in two and a half hours if the trail is packed down, which it usually is. Depending on conditions and snowpack, snowshoes or light foot traction is recommended. It may be skiable by advanced backcountry skiers.
2. Wildcat Ridge Trail: 5 miles from Pinkham to hut, six hours. Plan for an all-day hike as this trail does not get used very often and does not get packed down. Expect a lot of ups and downs once you've reached the top of Wildcat. This is not an easy trail. You need snowshoes in winter all the time. Do not ski this trail. It is not for beginners or slow-moving groups.
3. Wildcat River Trail: 4.5 miles from the end of Carter Notch Road, three hours; will take longer if not packed down. This trail does not see much use. It is a great ski trail from the road for 3.75 miles; then it gets steep and snowshoes would be better, but a very good skier with climbing skins could ski it.