Hours: 3:15 of hiking; 4:30 total
July 23, 2017
The Webster-Jackson trail can be done as a loop hitting two summits - Mt. Jackson (4,052’) and Mt. Webster (3,911’). We decided to only summit Mt. Jackson, so we hiked the trail as an out-and-back. The trailhead is very hard to find if you aren’t looking for it. Alex and I passed it twice before we decided to park and walk to find it. If you are coming from the north on Route 302 (traveling from 93N), the trailhead will be on your left after the Crawford Notch Train Station and Saco Lake. If you are coming from the south on Route 302 (traveling from NH-16), the trailhead will be on your right before Saco Lake and Crawford Notch Train Station. You will see many cars parked on the street before you see the trailhead. If you cannot find the trailhead since the sign is SO small, park near Saco Lake and walk South on Route 302 for about 0.2 miles. The trailhead is on the same side as Saco Lake.
NOTE: DON’T let the short mileage fool you! The trail gains 2,200 feet of elevation in 2.5 miles, so it is steep. Right off the bat, the trail starts to climb steeply. Both Alex and I were worried the whole climb would be steep, so mentally prepared ourselves. There are two views at the beginning of the trail - Elephant Head and Bugle Cliff - both of which give you beautiful views of Crawford Notch.
We began our journey at 10:30 AM on a beautiful 70° July day. For the first 1.2 miles of the hike, the trail alternated from difficult to moderate. There were many steep sections but also flatter sections, which was a nice change of pace when our legs and butt began to burn! There were small brook crossings but were easy to cross. We soon came to an intersection where we had to choose to follow the trail left to Mt. Jackson or right to Mt. Webster. We decided to head left to Mt. Jackson, so I cannot give any feedback on how the trail to Mt. Webster is.
For the remaining 1.4 miles to the summit, the trail was STEEP. It was a constant uphill battle with only a few brief flat sections. We flew up the first half of the trail but slowed down during the second half because we needed breaks. The best advice I can give is to pace yourself. There were a few times when we thought we were close the summit but weren’t lol! But don’t you worry, the trail only got more difficult as we climbed! There were also some lookout points on this half of the trail where we could see the summit. It looked farther away than it really was.
The last section of the trail has rock scrambles even before we reached the treeline. We needed our hands to help on most of the scrambles. The rock scrambles above the treeline gave us beautiful views, so we couldn’t wait until we reached the summit! Once we reached the summit, we were rewarded with beautiful views looking west to the White Mountains. We walked through a path between a patch of trees to get to the other side of the summit and had views looking east to Mt. Pierce, Mt. Eisenhower, Mt. Monroe, and Mt. Washington.
We reached the summit at 12:15 PM and stayed for over an hour to enjoy the view and take pictures. The views were a beautiful reward for a challenging climb. We met two men at the summit who were originally from Russia. They hiked 7 miles from another summit in three hours, which is incredible when hiking in the Presidential Range. I love meeting other hikers! Everyone is always so friendly and outgoing.
We started our descent at 1:30 PM. The descent is always easier on our legs, so we tried to beat our ascent time. The rock scrambles held us up a bit, but we flew down the rest of the trail. We returned to our car at 3:00 PM beating our ascent time by 15 minutes!
The hike to Mt. Jackson was challenging but not overly tiring. It wasn’t very long which helped mentally when hiking the steep sections. I would definitely recommend hiking Mt. Jackson! If you are looking for a short but challenging hike, this is for you! The rewarding summit views always make the steep ascent worth it.
Have you hiked Mt. Jackson? Did you hike Mt. Webster with it? If you have any questions/comments, please leave them below!