Hike the White Mountain 48 4,000 Footers in this Order

Is Mount Washington actually the hardest mountain to climb?

If you’re reading this, you probably already know that New Hampshire has 48 4,000 footer mountains that hikers try to summit every year. Many of our Ridj-it adventurers want to know which mountain to start with, so we endeavored to create a document explaining the order in which you should hike the 4,000 footers of the White Mountains.

Well, it was tough.

Our team consulted various websites and specialists, including Redline Guiding’s lengthy post about the characteristics of the various mountains, plus advice from outdoor enthusiast Max DesMarais to come up with some tentative information. We then scanned reliable websites like New England Hiking for more stats. We even asked one of the biggest community groups around the mountains Hike the 4,000 Footers of NH! for their suggestions.

However, what we felt was lacking from many websites was a clearly defined list not based solely on height. Elevation gain is a killer if you’re not prepared, plus the other logistics of parking and driving were never included. We also wanted to list the mountain difficulty based on true Ridj-it principles - logistics. We then looked to our own users who completed the 48 4,000 footers of New Hampshire for their wisdom, and we were not disappointed.

woman at Wildcat Mountain

“I think it all depends on what your goals are and what you value in a hike,” said Ridj-it adventurer Ulea who finished her 48 last year.

“My very first trip to the White Mountains I soloed Tom, Field, and Wiley because I'm sort of a ‘go big or go home’ type of person, and three peaks seemed better than bagging just one. It was hard, and I hurt for the next few days, but it was a great hike and got me hooked.”

What we noticed from people like Ulea and other contributors was the focus on the “wow” factor in each mountain, especially when considering beginners who might otherwise be discouraged from some of the not-so grandiose views for a couple of the beginner hikes. We made sure to balance that our in our list as well.

Another Ridj-it user and avid outdoor enthusiast was Derrick who wrote us probably one of the longest emails we have ever seen while in operation. His words are worth quoting as a block paragraph:

man in front of White Mountains

“Wouldn't you know, it's a bit difficult to rate this from 1 to 48. Moosilauke, for instance, would go from easy/moderate using the Glenncliff trail or Carriage Road to somewhere between “difficult” and "Tell my wife I love her" when using Beaver Brook (there's a fun sign at the trailhead warning you to take care to avoid "tragic results")... I then tried to keep in mind that this was for beginners and novices and made sure to exclude any trails that require you to first make sure your will is updated.”

We had a good laugh, but his focus on the importance of trail selection cannot be understated. In consideration of this, we included each trail to take with our list. “No matter what mountains someone recommends as easy, they all become immediately difficult the second you don't know where you are,” adds Derrick even when being cognisant of trail information.