Mount Jackson in all seasons

We have now hiked Mt. Jackson four times, once in each season. Since completing the NH48, we’ve set a challenging goal of hiking all the 48 in Winter and a follow up goal of hiking all of the 48 in all 4 seasons.

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Route

Segment Distance

Total Distance

Route Description

0 mi0 miStart at Webster-Jackson Trailhead
1.4 mi1.3 miWebster-Jackson Trail to Jackson Branch
1.2 mi2.6 miJackson Branch to the summit of Mt. Jackson
1.2 mi3.8 miJackson Branch back to Webster-Jackson Trail
1.4 mi5.2 miWebster-Jackson Trail back to parking lot

Map

Hiking Mount Jackson

At 5.2 miles and about 2,100 feet of elevation gain, Mount Jackson has been the perfect out-and-back trail for us when we needed a shorter hike. Or, you can make this hike a loop and add Mt. Webster in as well (6.1 miles total). The Mt. Jackson trailhead is just a 1 minute drive or 5 minute walk from the Crawford Notch AMC Center. We usually park right across from the trailhead in a small lot on the side of the road. The Webster-Jackson Trail begins with a slow and steady incline. A quarter of a mile or less into the trail, there is a 0.2 mile spur trail to Elephant Head that many people visit for a quick hike with a view up Crawford Notch. There’s also a viewpoint just along the trail at Bugle Cliff a little higher up. Following, there is a lot of undulation on this hike, so it can be hard to get into a groove if, like us, you like to just stay consistently on an ascent or descent. 

Webster-Jackson trailhead sign
Webster-Jackson trailhead sign
Webster-Jackson Trail in summer
Webster-Jackson Trail in summer
View from Bugle Cliff
View from Bugle Cliff
Webster-Jackson Trail in winter
Webster-Jackson Trail in winter

After 1.4 miles, there is a fork where we bear left to take the Jackson Branch of the trail to head to the summit of the 4,000 footer. Going right would take you up to Mt. Webster which can be included in a loop hike that we would absolutely recommend in good weather with clear views. This is also where you’ll encounter a gross melting monorail in spring conditions, our least favorite time to hike.

Spring monorail
Spring monorail
Trail juncture
Trail juncture

The trail gets a little steeper after that junction, but only the very end is really challenging. Close to the summit, you emerge from the trees to a pretty steep rock slabby section that can be a bit precarious in wintery conditions. Take it slow and be careful and it’s totally doable. 

Steep rocky section in summer
Steep rocky section in summer
Same rocky section with snow
Same rocky section with snow
Slab section in summer
Slab section in summer
Emerging above treeline in winter
Emerging above treeline in winter

The summit is a large open area with plenty of places to sit and take in the views of Mt. Washington if you are lucky enough to have a clear day. The first three times we hiked Jackson, it was snowing, raining, windy, or foggy, so we didn’t get any views from the summit and decided it was not worth going to Webster. But the fourth time was the charm for us! We waited for the perfect summer day to finally reap the rewards of Mt. Jackson and to do the loop with Webster. 

Mt. Jackson summit in summer
Mt. Jackson summit in summer
Mt. Jackson summit in winter
Mt. Jackson summit in winter

Our 4 Hikes of Mt. Jackson

The first time we hiked Jackson, it was late spring. Spring is our least favorite season to hike: the snow is melting, it is muddy, and we are itching for warmer weather when it is still quite cold in the Whites. Eager to get back to hiking after taking a month or two off, we hiked Jackson thinking it was short and boasts beautiful views. Unfortunately, we got what spring hiking had to offer: a monorail of gross snow and a fully socked-in summit. 

Hiking the spring monorail
Hiking the spring monorail
Socked in summit
Socked in summit

The second time we hiked Jackson, it was technically Fall, but it was complete winter conditions, and freezing, I might add. It was so cold and windy at the summit that people were rushing up there to tag it and rushing off. Kevin had the foresight to put on his balaklava before the summit so he could stay for longer. I, on the other hand, who hates pausing while in the flow of hiking to adjust gear, barreled through to the summit, tagged the cairn, then promptly turned around to find refuge from the wind in the trees. 

The trail in late fall
The trail in late fall
Atop the summit
Atop the summit

The third time we hiked Jackson, it was Winter Leap Day, just around 10 degrees at the summit, and completely covered in clouds at the summit. It was a cold one, but a beautiful winter wonderland. We also had the chance to actually stay in NH overnight and visited Reklis Brewery, which was a wonderful apres hike to enjoy, especially because we were tackling Tom, Willey, and Field the next morning. 

Ascending in winter
Ascending in winter
Enjoying the winter wonderland
Enjoying the winter wonderland

The fourth time we hiked Jackson, it was a perfect summer day! This was no coincidence. We could not in good conscience return to Jackson for a fourth time on a bad weather day and the views did not disappoint. Adding the loop to Mt. Webster was also totally worth it on a clear day.

Summer summit selfie
Looking out from Mt. Webster
Looking out from Mt. Webster

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