Hiking In The Whites In Fall And Early Winter

As fall commences and old man winter is right around the corner, or switchback if you will, as always, it’s critical that you prepare, plan and educate yourself before hitting the trail. A lot of times, the autumn and winter seasons overlap one another in New Hampshire, particularly in the Whites. Snow is recorded on the top of Mount Washington as well as many other of the high peaks, with winter-like conditions beginning as early as mid-August.


Being prepared can be the difference between life and death in the mountains.


Educate yourself on the proper gear to carry and how to use that gear. Familiarize yourself with the area and trails you will be taking.


The sun begins to set much earlier as the winter gets closer and closer. There is no longer the luxury of having longer days on the trail. Be sure that you time your hike accordingly and allow yourself more than enough time to complete your hike.


Always have a back-up plan or bail out route mapped out in case things take a turn for the worst or plans change. Let someone at home know where you will be hiking, which trails you intend on taking, and what time you expect to be back. Use good judgement and turn back if the odds aren’t in your favor. (The weather is bad, injury, getting lost, inadequate gear, exhaustion/dehydration, loss of daylight, hypothermia, etc.)

Fall/Early Winter Day Hike Gear List: 

  • Insulated boots
  • Map
  • Compass
  • Daypack
  • Wool socks
  • Synthetic or wool hat
  • Gloves or mittens
  • Sweater
  • Face mask or balaclava
  • Gaiters (optional)
  • Headlamp w/ extra lithium batteries
  • Base layer (top and bottom)
  • Mid-layer(s)
  • Rain jacket
  • Sunglasses
  • Insulated jacket
  • Rain pants
  • Hydration system
  • Plenty of food
  • Extra water
  • First aid supplies
  • Waterproof matches
  • Whistle
  • Knife or multi-tool
  • Micro-spikes
  • Emergency bivvy
  • Trekking poles (optional)

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