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.
|0 mi||0 mi||Start at Webster-Jackson Trailhead|
|1.4 mi||1.3 mi||Webster-Jackson Trail to Jackson Branch|
|1.2 mi||2.6 mi||Jackson Branch to the summit of Mt. Jackson|
|1.2 mi||3.8 mi||Jackson Branch back to Webster-Jackson Trail|
|1.4 mi||5.2 mi||Webster-Jackson Trail back to parking lot|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.