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*
Mt Hight
Carter Dome*
Wildcat Mountain A*
Wildcat Mountain B
Wildcat Mountain C
Wildcat Mountain D*
Wildcat Mountain E
Gulf Peak (Slide Peak)
Boot Spur Mountain
Mt Washington*
Mt Clay
Mt Jefferson*
Adams Five
Mt Adams*
Mt Madison*

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
Imp 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
Davis Path
Lawn Cutoff Trail
Tuckerman Ravine Trail
Trinity Heights Connector
Gulfside Trail
Mount Clay Loop Trail
Gulfside Trail
Sphinx 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
Gulfside Trail
Mt Jefferson Loop Trail
Gulfside Trail
Osgood 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
Casio ProTrek
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

Filmed On:
GoPro Hero 7 Black
GoPro Shorty Tripod Grip

Disclosure: A commission may be earned on some of the links in this post.



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21 comments

  • Hey syntax 77, just wanted to thank you for all your videos taking the time to make them. I suffered a spinal court injury back in 1994 playing amateur hockey, and have been a C45 quadriplegic since. I loved hiking in the outdoors and just discovered your videos this spring. Since now I pretty much am bedridden these have been a godsend for passing the time and the next best thing to actually hiking itself. Stay safe and keep those videos coming!-Mike from CT

  • I am on the West coast near Tacoma in Puyallup WA. My Grand Mother was born in Virginia and traveled to WA many years ago. It's great to see what my family may of climbed in mountains. Many moons ago. I am a fan of your videos. Thank you for posting!

  • Another great video..I cant stop watching once I start..that happens with all of your videos…great job on recording…

  • Insane loop what an accomplishment. Love your videos, only one on YouTube I don’t mind watching for 90min

  • Not Bad! I completed a Hut Traverse in the White Mountains. It was 8 AMC huts, 58 miles, just over 22,000 feet of elevation gain and i completed it in just under 35 hours, with no sleep. It was definitely one of my hardest hikes yet, oh and i almost forgot to mention i did it ultralight, with just 3 soft water bottles and carried all my food and rainshell with me. Got my Strava data as proof 😉

  • I grew up in NH but have lived in NC for the past 20+ years. It's nice to see home again. Great trip, excellent video, amazing visuals. Thanks for taking me along. Cheers and God Bless you!

  • Noodles yeah na, I’ll have beef jerky or a skunks bum first. But hey it’s your hike and you know what you like. Good for you man, must be so satisfying finishing then the humming feeling you get in your legs. Great videos.

  • Too bad that shortcut thru the camp is now closed so you have to walk the road.

  • Wow that's a lot of hiking. And when I saw the cars on the top i was like oh man you can drive to the top? I would have driven my car.

  • You prompted me to attempt a similar trail this past week. Bad weather forced it into an overnighter. WOW I was not ready for a trail of such difficulty. I ended up going up the Madison Gulf Trail, over to Mt. Washington, and then down the Nelson Crag Trail. The up and down trails were easily the most difficult trails I’ve ever completed. The “flat” portion was extremely exhausting. For anyone who’s interested, I would recommend hiking with a helmet and a buddy (as evidenced by his fall). Many falls could easily end you. I don’t know if I can recommend it to anyone, honestly.

  • Thank you for sharing and inspiring! 56 year old newbie starting to collect gear on a budget. Need a recommendation on a hammock system to purchase without breaking the bank. I’ve been searching the internet for days. I’d like to make the purchase 1x and be content. Any suggestions? 🙂

  • The content you share is very good thank you. I also discovered a very useful app for friends like me who are just starting bushcraft. Maybe you'd like to take a look. I'll leave it down for you. The app name is( Offline Survive Guide App | Survival Techniqs(PRO))

  • Well done! You must have ankles of titanium.

  • Go into Philippines for first camping

  • Great vicarious hike…thanks!

  • you make that all look so easy. I am humbled watching this

  • I really enjoyed watching this, twice actually. The fact you drive so far to play in, what's basically my backyard, makes me more appreciative of what i can access in just a couple of hours. Thanks for that… I hiked the NH 48 4K twenty or so years ago, so I am familiar with the trails in your endeavor. That was an absolutely crushing Day Two, kudos to you, but when you started down the Sphinx trail in the dark i was like, Nooooo! But you camped legally, in a much protected area, and then had to regain all that elevation. So again, thanks for your consideration. I'm fascinated with the concept of a Presi-Cat Loop.. The toughest part is finding a campsite. I use a solo tent, so I'm limited compared to your hammock strategy. As a side sleeper i just can't do a hammock, wish i could, but… Anyways, if I were to try this in three days, I'd park at Pinkham Notch, hike up Huntington Ravine to gain the elevation early and still be fresh for Washington, Clay, Jefferson, Adams and Madison. Backtrack a bit to Buttress trail and drop into the Great Gulf. There's a boatload of decent sacrifice sites for a good night's rest. Day Two would be three to five relatively flat miles, depending on where one camps, to the Imp trail and the Cat half of the loop. From there I would look for a stealth or sacrifice site anywhere between Imp tentsite and Mt Hight. Day Three head on up over Carter Dome and the Cats

  • what a badass video. great job!

  • Question do you carry a whistle with you if so what whistle do you use and what color do you use and where do you keep your whistle?

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