Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Friday, July 12, 2013

Mount Jefferson via Caps Ridge Trail

Checking the weather forecast this morning it appeared we were going to get a small break in the heat and humidity. I decided this would be a good day to tackle the Caps Ridge Trail and summit Mount Jefferson (5,716 ft.). It was a foggy start but quickly cleared. The temperature was cool and it felt good compared to the heat and humidity of the last two weeks.
 Weathered trailhead sign

 The smoking stump

 First view of Mount Jefferson

One of my sons would be joining me today and it was nice to have him along for this fun hike. We met in the parking lot at the Bretton Woods ski resort and took one vehicle to the trailhead parking lot. We were the second car there but a stream of vehicles rolled in and it was filling up quickly. It was apparent we were not the only ones taking advantage of this great weather.

It didn't take long for us to gear up and hit the trail avoiding the crowd that would soon be following. After a series of log bridges the trail makes a gradual ascent and we were soon at the first scenic view. The black flies were there to greet us and it sent us moving along up the trail.

 Clouds rising out of the Great Gulf

 Mount Washington

 Last of the clouds leaving

The trail left the treeline and moved into scrub brush. We climbed up and over the first Cap without much problem. The second Cap was a little more challenging. It was here that the black flies were almost overwhelming and it was time to douse ourselves with the can of Off that I thought we would need when I packed it. That definitely helped but the insects were out in full force today and present throughout the entire hike.

 Mount Jefferson summit

The final 0.4 mile to the summit was less steep but very rocky. There were four people at the top but leaving as we arrived and we had the summit to ourselves. We moved down off the summit and found a spot to take a break and have a snack. There were still plenty of bugs and really no breeze to keep them down. We didn't stay long and were now ready to make our descent.

 Mount Adams

 Diapensia - they were everywhere

We used the same trail on the way back down. There were plenty of hikers on their way up. What was surprising was the dogs that made it up over the Caps. The owners admitted that they needed a little boost. At the bottom of the first Cap there was a dog that refused to go any further and laid down with just enough room for his upper body to get into the little bit of shade that was available. This pooch wouldn't be going any further today, he and his owner turned around and went back down.

 Hot dog...looking for some shade!


Slippery log bridge

It was nice to get back into the forest and out of the direct sunshine, much cooler. We met a few more hikers going up and one more dog. This is a rough hike for most dogs and I really wouldn't recommend it.

Last look at Mount Jefferson on the ride home

Back at the trailhead we found the parking lot to be full. This was a very popular hiking destination today. The weather was pretty close to perfect and we both enjoyed the hike over the Caps and on up to the summit of Mount Jefferson. I was also able to add one more 4,000 footer to my list making this #16. It was a great day on the summits!

Panoramic View from Mount Jefferson Summit

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!


  1. What a great day to be up there! I just missed you guys by a few hours. I descended Caps Ridge around 3:30, after starting a mini-traverse on Pierce.

    1. Wow! We did just miss you. It was 1:00 when we got back down to the trailhead parking lot. Just about close to perfect on the summits that day!