Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Trail Report: Mount Jackson and Mount Webster Loop

On July 21, 2012, Kellie, Tony and Myself decided to hike either Mount Jackson or Mount Webster.  My knees are still tender from the Mount Lafayette hike two weeks earlier so I wasn't sure I'd be able to do both, so we planned on one and decided we'll see how I feel when we get to the top.  This was also Tony's second hike and his first 4000 footer so I was concerned about him as well.  We left Hudson, NH around 830am and arrived at the trail head about 1030am.  The parking lot was full so we parked along route 302 next to the lot and started to gear up.  At 1046am we hit the trail head of the Webster-Jackson Trail.

Webster-Jackson Trailhead

Trailhead Sign

The start of the trail was very typical for New Hampshire, very little elevation gain, lots of rocks and tree roots.

Lots of Rocks and Roots

A couple of things interesting about this trail was that very early on you get a couple of nice views.  At .1 mile into the hike you hit the Elephant Head spur trail, this is a .2 mile trail that leads to a rock ledge that over looks Route 302 and at .5 miles you hit the Bugle Cliff spur trail to a rock cliff with a pretty steep drop off, same view as Elephant Head just higher up.

Elephant Head Spur trail Sign

Elephant Head Spur trail

View from Elephant Head

AMC Highland Center and Mount Washington Hotel from Elephant Head

"Cliff View" is pointing towards Bugle Cliff

Bugle Cliff Spur Trail was loaded with rocks

View from Bugle Cliff.  I didn't want to get to close.

A mile into the hike you hit a fork in the trail.  Left brings you to the summit of Mount Jackson and right to Mount Webster.  I wasn't sure what to do, thankfully a very friendly hiker who just happened to finish all forty-eight 4000 footers by doing Mount Jackson was on his way down when we ran into him at the fork.  I asked him, "If you were only going to do one would you pick Jackson or Webster", he said "Jackson has a 360 degree view and Webster doesn't".  That pretty much nailed the coffin shut.  We went left up to Jackson.

Webster-Jackson Trail Sign @ the Fork

Fork in the trail - Left to Jackson - Right to Webster

Fifteen minutes into the hike to Jackson after the fork, Kellie's spidey senses went off and she stopped mid-trail and started looking around.  She found a cold Coors Light unopened under a tree branch!  Either this fell out of someone's pack or someone left it for the return trip down the mountain.  Either way, I'm sure they were disappointed to find out their beer was missing.

Kellie's Spidey Senses are going off!

Unopened Coors Light that was still cold!

The trail got muddy in some locations

We were told by numerous hikers that the closer you got to Jackson the steeper it got.  And that the last few hundred feet of the climb got extremely steep.

Steep climb

One of many rock scrambles near the summit

Tony taking a break before the last push to the top!

Another steep rock scramble near the summit

One of the first nice views near the summit

Another nice view looking towards the Mount Washington Hotel

The final push to the summit!

Tony - Summit of Mount Jackson 4,052'

Mike & Kellie Summit of Mount Jackson 4,052'

I had read reports of a bird called a "Gray jay" that will eat out of your hand, I didn't believe it until I saw it in person!

A Gray Jay

A Gray Jay Eating Crackers

Mount Washington from the summit of Mount Jackson

There were quite a few people at the top of Jackson, I wouldn't say a ton, but a good handful, more than I care for.  My knees were a little sore but I decided I could make it to Mount Webster and Tony was also feeling good so after an hour break at the summit of Jackson we decided that we would go over to Mount Webster along the Webster Cliff Trail.  The Webster Cliff Trail is 1.4 miles long with only 300' elevation gain. Sounds pretty easy right?  It was, except for the extremely steep section coming off of Mount Jackson.

Webster Cliff Trail Sign

This was probably the steepest thing I have climbed yet

Looking up what we just climbed down

Looking down another steep section

Going down!

Webster Cliff Trail for the most part is pretty flat and level

Kellie & Tony on the final climb of the Webster Cliff Trail

After about 40 minutes of hiking we made it across the Webster Cliff Trail to the junction of Webster Cliff and Webster-Jackson Trail.  At this point we continued on the Cliff Trail over to Mount Webster which was only another .1 or .2 miles from the junction.  Mount Webster, while not having the 360 degree view like Jackson still has very nice Westerly view with an amazing view of Mount Willey.  One great thing about Mount Webster, because it's not a 4000 footer (it sits at 3,910') it is not as crowded.  There were a few people at the summit but they all left within 15 minutes and then we had the summit to ourselves for a good 20 minutes or so.

View from the summit of Mount Webster 3,910'

Another great view

Kellie sitting on the edge
Summit of Mount Webster 3,910'

 Mike - Summit of Mount Webster 3,910'

Tony - Summit of Mount Webster 3,910'

We didn't stay to long at the summit of Mount Webster, maybe 30-45 minutes.  Then we decided to hit the trail and head down to the car.  I didn't take to many pictures on the way down as my knees were really starting to get sore at this point but we did run into a few nice areas for photos.

Steep section heading down from Mount Webster

Kellie, Mike, Tony @ Silver Cascade Brook

 GPS Track

Summit of Mount Jackson: 4052'
Summit of Mount Webster: 3910'
Total hike time: 7h 8m
Distance: 7 miles
Elevation Gain: 2202'
Trails:  Webster-Jackson Trail & Webster Cliff Trail


  1. Nice hike - that bit between Jackson and Webster is way steep. You should see what it's like in several feet of snow. Beautiful and a soft landing.

  2. Yeah, that section coming off of Jackson was very steep, with my knees still pretty sore I had to take it pretty slow but I made it down. I wonder how it is trying to climb up. heh. I can't imagine doing that in the ice/snow, but I bet it is really nice too see. Some of the Winter photo's I have seen online are outstanding!