Hiking the Ultimate White Mountains Backpacking Loop
3 Days of Hammock Camping, Hiking & Backpacking on the White Mountains Presicat Loop.
For this 3 day, 2 night summer backpacking trip, I’ll be hiking a 30 mile backpacking loop in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest. I call this the Presicat loop because it’s comprised of the Carter Range and Wildcat Range on one side, and the northern section of the Presidential Range on the other.
This route creates a grand tour of the northern White Mountains with a section of the Appalachian Trail and Mt Washington as it’s centerpiece. Along the way we’ll hit 9 major summits (NH48’s) and 8 subsidiary peaks, while racking up 15,228 feet of elevation gain on some pretty rugged trails.
For sleep and shelter I chose a minimalist ultralight hammock camping system. This allowed me to get my base weight down to 9 lb. Notable gear can be found at the end of this post. Or check out my
Full printable gear list with weights & links on LighterPack
For an easier read, more info & downloadable GPS data, check out my blog post:
No permit is required to camp in the White Mountains, but the trailhead I chose did require a self payment of $3 per day. Rules & regulations for backcountry camping can be found on the USFS website here.
Trailhead Used: Great Gulf Wilderness Trailhead, N44° 18.675′ W71° 13.228′
Route 16, Gorham, NH
Peaks Bagged – In order, * indicates NH48 majors:
Middle Carter Mountain*
South Carter Mountain*
Wildcat Mountain A*
Wildcat Mountain B
Wildcat Mountain C
Wildcat Mountain D*
Wildcat Mountain E
Gulf Peak (Slide Peak)
Boot Spur Mountain
Trails Used, Day 1:
From the lot, cross Rt 16 to Camp Dodge Rd
Head up Camp Dodge Rd. At the fork, go left towards the shed. You’ll see a herd path to the left of the shed. This is the Imp Cutoff Trail.
Imp Cutoff Trail
North Carter Trail
Carter-Moriah Trail (Appalachian Trail South)
Camp along 19 Mile Brook Trail
Head 1/8 mile down 19MBT to get outside of the forest protection area around Carter Notch Hut. This isn’t really a typical “campsite” at all. It’s a random spot in some very dense and uneven terrain. I used a hammock and managed to find some properly spaced trees after a bit of searching. A tent in this area wouldn’t be realistically possible from what I saw. A small stream crosses the trail nearby for water.
Day 1 Mileage: 8.7 Miles miles
Day 1 Gross Elevation Gain: 4,717’
Trails Used, Day 2:
Backtrack on 19 Mile Brook Trail
Wildcat Ridge Trail
Glen Boulder Trail
Lawn Cutoff Trail
Tuckerman Ravine Trail
Trinity Heights Connector
Mount Clay Loop Trail
Camp near the intersection with Great Gulf Trail
Room for several hammocks or tents. There are other pockets of decent camping nearby as well. Water is readily available.
Day 2 Mileage: 11.9 miles
Day 2 Gross Elevation Gain: 6,805’
Trails Used, Day 3:
Backtrack on Sphinx Trail
Mt Jefferson Loop Trail
Great Gulf Trail
Return to Great Gulf Trail parking.
Day 3 Mileage: 9.5 miles
Day 3 Gross Elevation Gain: 3,699′
Grand Total Mileage: 30.1 miles
Grand Total Gross Elevation Gain: 15,233’
Notable Backpacking Gear:
AMC White Mountains Map Set
ULA Ohm 2.0 Backpack
Dutchware Gear Half-Wit Hammock
Dutchware Whoopie Hook hammock suspension w/ kevlar tree straps.
Hammock Gear Dyneema Hex Tarp
Hammock Gear Burrow 40 Top Quilt
HG Phoenix 30 Underquilt
DIY Fancy Feast Alcohol Stove
Light My Fire Mini Fire Steel Striker
Toaks 750ml Titanium Pot
Sea to Summit Long Handled Spork
Katadyn BeFree Water Filter
Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite Rain Suit
Dutchware Sit Pad
Nitecore NU25 Headlamp
Ribz Front Pack (used for camera gear)
Mountain House Backpacking Meals
Optional Electronics for Weather, Navigation & Safety:
Sangean DT-400W Weather band Radio
Spot Gen3 GPS Messenger & SOS
Garmin Oregon GPS unit
GoPro Hero 7 Black
GoPro Shorty Tripod Grip
Disclosure: A commission may be earned on some of the links in this post.