Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Mount Jackson via Webster Cliff Trail

During my many trips through Crawford Notch I've wondered what the view would be like from the top of the cliffs along the Webster Cliff Trail. I thought it was time to find out and the plan was to hike to Mount Webster and return on the same trail. Last night my son Ryan decided to join me for this hike, it was great having him along. Our hiking plan changed as we got into the hike.

Early morning sun and clouds over the Presidentials

Sun rising over Crawford Notch

Beautiful morning in the Notch

At the trailhead

Crossing the Saco River

A tricky blowdown to get through

A view through the trees

The weather forecast called for warm temps in the upper 80's and possible thunderstorms in the afternoon. We wanted to beat some of the heat and all of the thunderstorms so it was going to be an early start. There was fog below and clouds above as we drove out of the valley. Some stops for gas, money and breakfast then on to the trailhead.

Painted Trillium


My truck parked far below 

Crawford Notch

The sun was just rising over the cliffs as we made our way down through Crawford Notch. We parked and were on the trail at 6:55. The early start was paying off, it was nice and cool in the woods. There was one spot on the trail where beaten paths branched off in different directions with no signs off a blaze. We each picked a path, both were wrong. My second choice was the right trail and we continued on up. It was somewhere along this section of trail that we decided to continue our hike over to Mount Jackson then descend the Webster-Jackson Trail via the Jackson Branch down to Rt. 302. This would also require a 3.7 mile road walk back to the vehicle.

Willey House site

A view south from Webster Cliff Trail

We reached the first open ledge and were treated to a spectacular view of Crawford Notch. There was a stiff breeze blowing that helped cool us down after a warm climb. The wind also kept the black flies away. The trail passes by outlooks that provide scenic views of the notch below. It is not a straight shot across this ridge. There are ups and downs with a number of ledge scrambles and minor rock climbs. The views along the way are well worth the effort.

We reached the summit of Mount Webster and spent a few minutes taking some photos then moved on to the hike over to Mount Jackson. Again, some ups and downs with a few rock scrambles. There were a few insignificant patches of snow and I used some to cool off, it was getting quite warm by now without the cooling breeze that we were enjoying along the cliffs.

On the summit of Mount Webster

Standing in a patch of snow

The roof of Mizpah Spring Hut from Mount Jackson

Standing on the summit of Mount Jackson

Up on Mount Jackson we initially had the place to ourselves but the hikers started streaming up and it wasn't long before we had plenty of company. This would be our longest break today. I got plenty of photos and took time to eat. The breeze felt nice, the sun was warm and it was a great spot to rest before starting our ascent. We were soon back on the trail heading down to Route 302.


View from Bugle Cliff

Webster-Jackson Trailhead

Climbers on Mount Willard

I actually felt kind of sorry for those hikers making their way up. It looked like a warm ascent and they were looking very hot. I was glad for the early start that we got today, descending was warm enough for me. We got back to Route 302 and started our road walk back down through the notch to where I had parked the vehicle. Road walks are not fun but sometimes necessary. When we got to the Willey house site it was back on the trail again that took us off the road and to the Webster Cliff Trail then back out to Route 302 where the vehicle was parked.

Mount Willard

This was my first time across the Webster Cliff Trail and I found it to be a great hike. While it was a hot day I was glad we were able to make our ascent during the warmer part of the day. The black flies were never really a problem, as long as we kept moving. We turned this hike from a 6.8 mile up and back into an 11 mile loop. The last time I did a 4,000 footer was Mount Pierce back in April when there was still LOTS of snow on the trail. Seems I'm going to have to now get used to the heat and black flies. That's what makes hiking in the White Mountains interesting!

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

1 comment:

  1. Nice Blog. I've been wanting to do this hike (up and back down Webster) for a long time now. I've got an older lab mix who isn't super athletic, a little overweight maybe, but still reasonably fit and likes to hike. Are the scrambles going to be a problem for a dog? Thanks.