Home » Hike Mount Pierce, 3 Trails to Choose for Incredible Views!

Hike Mount Pierce, 3 Trails to Choose for Incredible Views!

view from the top of mount pierce new hampshire in summer with green mountains

Huddled in the heart of the White Mountains, Mount Pierce stands tall as a testament to nature’s enduring grandeur and New Hampshire’s rugged, hardy beauty. With its summit reaching an elevation of 4,310 feet, Mount Pierce offers exhilarating views of the surrounding landscapes including Mount Washington! 

Located in Crawford Notch State Park, just outside of Bretton Woods, Mount Pierce comes in at number 27 on NH’s 48 over 4,000 feet list.

We’ve hiked Pierce in the winter, late spring, and for a summer sunset.

woman sitting on a bench in red jacket on mount pierce
mount pierce new hampshire in spring with green mountains
woman smiling in t shirt on top of mount pierce in summer

I was most surprised at how cold and windy it was at the top during the sunset hike in June! No matter what time of year you go be sure to pack extra layers to withstand the winds that New Hampshire’s summits are known for.

Below you’ll find three distinct routes up Pierce, each with highlights and challenges. 

mount pierce new hampshire at sunset in summer with green mountains

🥾Let’s see which journey up Mount Pierce is the best for you to do!

Hiking Mount Pierce; 3 Routes Up

1. Mount Pierce via Crawford Path: The Classic Ascent

  • 🥾Miles: 5.9 miles
  • 📈Elevation gain: 2,398 ft
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Time: 4+ hours
  • 🐶Dog-friendly: yes, on leash
  • 🚙Parking: Click here to navigate to 44.22389, -71.41138 (large parking lot off Mt Clinton Rd)
  • 🌟Features: 💦Gibbs Brook, Gibbs Falls (small waterfall!), and almost 360-degree views from top of Pierce (can see Mount Washington if it’s clear)

This route will have you gaining about 2,400 feet in 3 miles, making this out-and-back trek a 6-mile round trip.

This way up Pierce begins with parking at the Crawford Path Trailhead just off of Route 302. You’ll first pick up the Crawford Connector for 0.3 miles until you come to a fork and turn left on the Crawford Path trail. This fork will be right after you cross the bridge over Gibbs Brook.

Shortly after this, you’ll see a sign on your left where you can take a short detour to see Gibbs Falls. Continue to follow Crawford Path up to the summit of Pierce for a little less than 3 miles. Return to comfort the same way you came up.

Highlights:

  • Historical Significance: The Crawford Path is the oldest continuously maintained hiking trail in the United States, dating back to 1819. Following this trail is like stepping into the footsteps of early explorers, creating a unique sense of connection with the region’s history.
  • Waterfalls and Flora: As you ascend, marvel at the stunning Gibbs Falls and traverse through a diverse range of flora, including birch and spruce forests. The path offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and historical charm.

Challenges:

  • Rutted, Rooted, Rocky trail conditions: Like many routes in the gorgeously wild White Mountains, this trail is laced with slippery roots, rocks, and steep drop-offs into deep ravines. Being mindful of footing and having proper footwear are essential elements for a successful and enjoyable experience in this area.
  • A note from AllTrails: ⚠️SAFETY ALERT: This trail follows extremely rugged, exposed, and difficult terrain. You may face winter conditions such as ice, snow, high winds, frigid temperatures, and whiteout conditions on any day. Ensure that you are fully prepared to face these conditions as long as you plan to be out and have the necessary gear to keep yourself safe in the event of an emergency.

2. Mount Pierce, Jackson, and Webster Loop: The Scenic Route

  • 🥾Miles: 9.2 miles
  • 📈Elevation gain: 3,133 ft
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Time: 7+ hours
  • 🐶Dog-friendly: yes, on leash
  • 🚙Parking: Click here to navigate to 44.21963, -71.41081 (parking at the AMC Highland Center)
  • 🌟Features: 💦Gibbs Falls (small waterfall!), Mount Pierce summit, Mount Jackson, Mt Webster and Webster Cliffs, and Mitzpah Hut

This loop runs clockwise and culminates in a total distance covered of 9.2 miles, climbing about 3,130 feet in elevation.

Parking at the huge lot at the AMC Highland Center along Rt 302, you’ll cross the busy street and pick up the Crawford Path. You can either take the Crawford Path trail to the top of Pierce or you can bear right onto the Mizpah Cutoff trail about 1.7 miles in. And after 0.6 miles on Mizpah Cutoff Trail you would take a left (total of 2.3 miles into the hike) onto the Webster Cliff Trail which will also bring you to the summit of Pierce.

You’ll stand atop the summit at about 3 miles, then come back the way you came (makes the most sense to take Webster Cliff Trail back). You’ll pass the Mizpah Pass on your right and continue on the Webster Cliff trail until reaching Mount Jackson’s summit at 5.4 miles.

Continue south on the same trail until climbing to Webster’s Peak, reaching it at 6.5 miles. When its majestic westerly views are enough, you’ll follow the Webster-Jackson trail (Mount Webster Branch) until you reach parking along Route 302.

Highlights:

  • Summit 3 separate Presidentials: This trail treats hikers to the hallowed peaks of Mounts Pierce, Jackson, and Webster, allowing a summit collector to cross off 2 of the White’s 48 4000 foot + mountains in one outing, and 3 of its Presidentials. 
  • Before even setting foot into the wilderness, you can visit and peruse AMC’s Highland Center at Crawford Notch, a new four-season lodge and outdoor education center. The Lodge is an ideal starting point for day hikes, paddling, snowshoe treks, and longer back-country trips in the White Mountains. Here you can research your trek with free Wi-Fi and fuel up on some delicious freshly prepared food before your climb, or enjoy a satisfying and much-deserved local IPA after you’re done!

Challenges:

  • Rocky Terrain: This trail is known for its rocky sections, which can begin to look the same after a while, leading to the potential for disorientation and getting lost, so careful navigation is required. Again, hikers should be equipped with sturdy footwear to handle the uneven terrain.
  • Distance and Ups & Downs: This route will have a climber ascending and descending 3 separate and distinct mountain summits. The repeated ups and downs of the climb can be taxing, turning ready legs into wobbly noodles. 

3. Mount Pierce via Webster Cliff Trail: The Adventurous Approach

  • 🥾Miles: 12.5 miles
  • 📈Elevation gain: 4,393 ft
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Time: 8+ hours
  • 🐶Dog-friendly: yes, on leash
  • 🚙Parking: Click here to navigate to 44.17093, -71.38813 (parking along Rt 302)
  • 🌟Features: Mount Webster, Mount Jackson, Mount Pierce

This one is not for the faint of heart or weak of leg. In, out, and back in 12.5 miles, a climber will gain about 4,400 feet of undulating elevation. The beginning of this fantastic slog starts off Route 302. You’ll apex over Mount Webster at about 2.8 miles, Mount Jackson at 4 miles, and finally Mount Pierce at 6.2 miles. Return down to safety and accolades via the same route up. 

view from the top of mount pierce new hampshire in summer with green mountains

Highlights:

  • Panoramic Views: Webster Cliff Trail offers unparalleled panoramic views of the Presidential Range and the surrounding peaks, valleys, rivers, and ponds. Hikers can soak up the beauty of this uncultivated landscape, with Mount Washington looming majestically in the distance, taunting and daring.
  • Alpine Zone Exploration: As the trail ascends above the evergreen treeline, adventurers can explore the unique alpine zone, a rugged, harsh but fragile ecozone that is home to resilient plant species adapted to the harsh and unforgiving mountain winds, ice, and snow.

Challenges:

  • Exposed Sections: Webster Cliff Trail includes some exposed sections, particularly above treeline, in the alpine zone. Hikers should be cautious and prepared for a variety of weather conditions, with the potential for exposure to wind and changing weather patterns likely. In these exposed sections, shelter and cover from the elements is very limited, and the shielding refuge of the treeline is mockingly close, but very dangerous to get reach. Be ready with the right gear and mindset to do battle with the elements. 
  • Length and Steepness: This is a long route up Mount Pierce, covering approximately 6.25 miles one way. Hikers should be prepared for a steady, undulating, and unrelenting ascent, however, don’t be deterred as completing this route will put you in distinguished company and provide unrivaled, extraordinary views along the way out and back.

Conclusion:

Each route up Mount Pierce offers a distinct adventure, from the historical allure of Crawford Path to the scenic wonders of the P.J.W. Trail, and the adventurous spirit of Webster Cliff Trail. 

Whether you seek a leisurely and whimsical hike or a stunning, challenging, kick-your-butt ascent, Mount Pierce has something to offer every outdoor adventurer. 

Lace up your hiking boots, pack those essentials, and embark on an unforgettable journey up this iconic and timeless New Hampshire peak.

Looking for more hikes in Crawford Notch?! Check out this post here of 15 different hikes in and around Crawford Notch State Park!

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