Mt. Jefferson: Castle and Caps Ridge Trailheads

Trail Overview

The primary trails for climbing Mt. Jefferson (5,716') in the White Mountain's Presidential Range
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Trail Activity
Hiking Snowshoeing
Length
21.80 miles, Network
Difficulty
Strenuous
Towns
Low & Burbanks (NH), Randolph (NH), Thompson & Meserve (NH)
Surface
Packed Earth/Dirt, Rock/Ledge
Pets
Permitted on leash
Fees
No
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Description

PLEASE NOTE: The trails up Mount Jefferson are strenuous, and weather on the exposed alpine summit can be harsh and unpredictable.

Caps Ridge Trail: Though inaccessible during the winter months, the Caps Ridge Trailhead (3,000') is the highest elevation trailhead in the White Mountains for hikers looking to climb a Four Thousand Footer. From the top of Jefferson Notch, the Caps Ridge Trail climbs 2.2 miles and 2,700 feet to the alpine summit of Mount Jefferson. Despite being the third highest peak in the Presidential Range, the comparatively short climb and high elevation start makes the Caps Ridge Trail one of the most accessible and popular routes in the higher summits.

Castle Trail: From the Castle Trailhead, the Castle Trail climbs 4.4 miles and 4,200 feet to the summit of Mount Jefferson (5,716') via the impressive Castellated Ridge. The trail begins on the Presidential Rail Trail, heading west on the gravel path for a few hundred feet until entering the woods. In 0.1 miles the trail crosses the Israel River, which can be at times uncrossable during highwater periods. During most times of year, hikers should be prepared for wet feet when crossing. The Castle Trail follows the Israel River gently upslope 1.25 miles to the junction with the Israel Ridge Path, where the Castle Trail leaves the river and begins to climb more steeply towards the ridge. In another 2.1 miles the trail breaks above tree line onto the Castellated Ridge, traversing a series of impressive rock outcroppings towards the summit of Mount Jefferson, a mile beyond.

Castle Ravine Trail: From the Castle Trailhead, the Castle Ravine Trail climbs 4.4 miles and 4,200 feet to the summit of Mount Jefferson (5,716') via the impressive Castellated Ridge. The trail begins on the Presidential Rail Trail, heading west on the gravel path for a few hundred feet until entering the woods. In 0.1 miles the trail crosses the Israel River, which can be at times uncrossable during highwater periods. During most times of year, hikers should be prepared for wet feet when crossing. The Castle Trail follows the Israel River gently upslope 1.25 miles to the junction with the Israel Ridge Path. Turn left to cross the Israel River again, following the Israel Ridge Path 0.4 miles to the beginning of the Castle Ravine Trail. The Castle Ravine Trail continues along the floor of Castle Ravine up towards the headwall, where the trail steepens sharply and breaks above treeline, climbing to Edmands Col. From Edmands Col, hikers can continue 0.2 miles south on the Gulfside Trail to the Mount Jefferson Loop, where the trail climbs 0.3 miles to the summit of Mount Jefferson. A loop can be made by returning to the trailhead via the Castle Trail over the Castellated Ridge.

Other Information

Before you hike, know the hiker responsibility code and be prepared:

  • With knowledge and gear
  • To leave your plans
  • To stay together
  • To turn back
  • For emergencies
  • To share the hiker code with others.

Visit the hikeSafe website to learn more!

Trail Manager

These trails are managed by the White Mountains National Forest and maintained by the Randolph Mountain Club. For more information, contact:

Randolph Mountain Club

Randolph Mountain Club
P.O. Box 279
View website

White Mountain National Forest: Androscoggin Ranger District

White Mountain National Forest: Androscoggin Ranger District
300 Glen Road
Phone: (603) 466-2713 x 0
View website

Trail Tips

Travel on Durable Surfaces
Stick to established trails. If there's no trail, try to walk on rock, gravel, or snow and spread out so that your group doesn't create a trail.
Legend
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Trailhead Information

Caps Ridge Trailhead: Jefferson Notch Road is closed November - June

From I-93 heading north, take Exit 35 for US-3 North after passing through Franconia Notch. Head north on US-3 for 10.5 miles to Twin Mountain, and turn right on US-302 East. Take US-302 4.5 miles then turn left onto Base Station Road, following signs for the Cog Railway. Take Base Station Road for 4.5 miles then turn left onto Jefferson Notch Road. The trailhead is located 3.2 miles up Jefferson Notch Road at the height of land.

From Gorham, head west on US-2 for 10.8 miles, and turn left onto Valley Road. Take Valley Road for 1.1 miles then turn left up Jefferson Notch Road. The trailhead is located 5.3 miles up Jefferson Notch Road at the height of land.

 

Castle Trailhead:

From I-93 North, take Exit 35 for US-3 North after passing through Franconia Notch. Head north on US-3 10.5 miles to Twin Mountain, and continue north through town another 2 miles for NH-115 N. Take NH-115 N 9.5 miles to US-2, then turn right/east for Gorham. In 4.1 miles, the Castle Trailhead is on your right.

From Gorham, head west on US-2 for 9.7 miles, and the Castle Trailhead is on your left.

 

 

Click on a parking icon to get custom directions
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