Note: For complete trail descriptions, times, elevation, trailhead directions, and major features, see the AMC White Mountain Guide or try our new White Mountain Guide Online.
Mt. Jefferson (5,716 feet) has three summits a short distance apart, in line northwest and southeast, with the highest in the middle. Perhaps the most striking view is down the Great Gulf with the Carter Range beyond.
Strenuous: Mt. Jefferson via Caps Ridge Trail. The Caps Ridge Trail has some fairly steep, rough sections, but the relatively short distance and elevation gain make this the route of choice to Mt. Jefferson for most hikers.
The AMC’s Highland Center lies near the start of the Mt. Clinton Road, which in the summer can be followed to the Jefferson Notch Road and the Caps Ridge Trailhead. The Highland Center offers lodging, meals and programs year round.
Under proper conditions, Mt. Jefferson can be reached as a day hike from the AMC’s Madison Spring Hut by following the Gulfside Trail. The hut is open from mid-June to early September, offering meals and overnight accommodations.
Safety in Summer and early Fall
The AMC recommends all hikers check weather conditions in advance, carry a current map and guidebook, along with a compass and knowledge of how to use it. For recommendations on how to plan a safe hike in the White Mountains, see: The 10 essentials for a safe and pleasant hike.
Winter Hiking on Mt. Jefferson
Winter hiking anywhere in the White Mountains requires specialized equipment and skills, and experience in coping with weather, navigation, and winter gear. Extremely severe storms can develop suddenly and unexpectedly, especially above treeline. The combination of high wind and low temperatures has such a cooling effect that the worst conditions on Mt. Jefferson are approximately equal to the worst reported from Antarctica, despite the much greater cold in the latter region. Hikers interested in extending their activities into winter are strongly advised to seek out organized trips with leaders who have extensive winter experience. Several AMC chapters offer winter hiking and backpacking instruction, and AMC offers several guided winter mountaineering trips; search for "Instruction" in AMC's activity listings. Helpful information can also be found in the AMC Guide to Winter Hiking and Camping.
Note: The peaks of the Northern Presidentials are nearly as exposed to the elements as Mt. Washington, and should be treated with the same degree of respect and caution. Severe winterlike storms can occur at any time of the year.
A smooth, grassy plateau south of the summit of Mt. Jefferson is known as the Monticello Lawn.