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. Willey (4285’) is the second of highest and southernmost mountain of the Willey Range, which also includes Mt. Field (4340’) and Mt. Tom (4051’).
Strenuous: The most direct route to the summit of Mt. Willey is via the steep Kedron Flume Trail, which ascends to the Ethan Pond Trail. A short hike west on Ethan Pond Trail will bring you to the Willey Range Trail. Take this trail north for about a mile to the summit of Mt. Willey. Descend the way you came up.
Strenuous: The gung-ho peak-bagger might choose to bag all three 4,000 footers of the Willey Range in a day. One way to do this is to be dropped-off at the trailhead for Kedron Flume Trail, south of the AMC’s Highland Center, and take Ethan Pond Trail to Willey Range Trail north to Mount Tom Spur, which tags the summits of Mt. Willey, Mt. Field, and Mt. Tom in that order. Descend via A-Z Trail, then Avalon Trail, which ends at the AMC’s Highland Center.
The AMC’s Highland Center and Shapleigh Bunkhouse are open year-round, offering meals and overnight accommodations.
The AMC’s Ethan Pond Campsite is located at the base of Mt. Willey, along the Ethan Pond Trail.
The AMC’s Hiker Shuttle stops at the nearby AT/Webster Cliff Trailhead, connecting hikers with the Highland Center and Pinkham Notch Visitor Center.
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. Willey
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. Willey 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.