HIKING THE TERRIFYING 25 LIST
Welcome to the Newenglandwaterfalls.com guide to hiking and climbing New Hampshire's Terrifying 25 list!
The Terrifying 25 is one of several extremely fun hiking lists in New England. It is the only list dedicated to climbing the scariest of New Hampshire's trails. The list was created by Alex, Sage & Patricia Herr and it focuses on NH's trails that include rock scrambles, scree slopes, boulder caves, ladders and rock slides.
Of the 25 trails on this list, 20 trails are required and 5 trails are elective from a pool of 14 trails. All of the rules for hiking the Terrifying 25 can be found on the official website for the list: The Terrifying 25.
After you hike all 25 trails on this list, you can apply for a patch to formally acknowledge your achievement. Information on applying for a patch can be found here.
If your plan is to hike and climb the Terrifying 25, I highly recommend picking up a copy of the latest edition of this long-trusted and excellent guidebook: AMC's White Mountain Guide (2017 edition). This guidebook offers detailed instructions and maps to all 25 trails on this list.
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To complete the Terrifying 25 list, you have to hike all twenty (20) of these trails:
To complete the whole Terrifying 25 list, you have to select and hike at least five (5) of these trails:
Although you can't really go wrong with selecting any of the above trails to complete the Terrifying 25 list, these five trails represent my very favorites:
Caps Ridge Trail, Mt. Jefferson
TIPS FOR HIKING THE TERRIFYING 25
1. BUG SEASON - Unless you are a masochist, avoid hiking the Terrifying 25 in New Hampshire from late-May through early July. This is black fly season and they can be absolutely intolerable (think Alaskan mosquito-bad). You can try to use bug spray or DEET-based products, but they don't always work well for all people. If you absolutely must hike during this time-frame, do yourself a favor and consider getting a wide-brimmed hat and a mesh bug net.
2. TRAIL CONDITIONS - Review Trailsnh.com to obtain the latest in trail conditions (especially in winter and early spring, when snow & ice conditions can be highly variable).
3. READ GUIDEBOOKS - Buy the revelent hiking guidebooks and actually read each relevant chapter before you take your hiking trip. You'll understand potential dangers and also make sure you don't miss any scenic views or other interesting diversions along the way.
4. CONSIDER LEAVING YOUR TREKKING POLES AT HOME - I normally love trekking poles, but I prefer not to have them in my hands or stored on my pack while I am rock scrambling on the 52 WAV trails.
5. LEAVE A NOTE - Always leave a note or tell someone which trails and mountains you will be hiking (too many people get lost and/or injured in the mountains of New Hampshire).
6. BEWARE OF BREAK-INS - Don't leave anything valuable in your car (unfortunately, too many break-ins have occurred in New Hampshire).
7. GET CREATIVE - Learn the value of hitch-hiking, using a car-spot, and/or mountain biking between trailheads (note: a traverse is almost always more interesting than an out-and-back hike).
8. START HIKING EARLY - Start your hikes early (i.e. before 7:30am) to beat most of the crowds on the popular trails.
9. HIKE IN SEPTEMBER - Mid-week September hiking is amazing. Hike at least once during this time-frame (call out sick from work if you have to).
10. VISIT THE MOUNTAIN WANDERER - Introduce yourself to Steve Smith at the Mountain Wanderer in Lincoln at some point (there aren't many people as passionate about New Hampshire's trails as he is).
11. GET AN REI MEMBERSHIP - Purchase a $20 REI membership to save 8-10% on all full-price REI purchases for the rest of your life (you have no idea how much time you'll probably spend at their stores and on rei.com). Also, strongly consider applying for the REI credit card (you can earn hundreds of dollars in dividends each year if you use this credit card as your primary card for your non-REI purchases).
12. BLUEBIRD DAYS - Do the great mountains on the bluebird days, and the less interesting mountains on the overcast or lousy-weather days.
13. PEAK FOLIAGE - Don't miss hiking some of the Terrifying 25 during peak fall foliage in early October.
14. GET SOME ELECTROLYTES - Bring some Gatorade (or something similar) to get some electrolytes into your system. This is especially important on hot and humid days. Rock scrambling is exhausting, and this will help you power through it.
15. VITAMIN I - Ibuprofen can be extremely helpful tool in controlling pain and/or reducing swelling, especially on tough hikes.
16. ADVERSE WEATHER - New Hampshire's mountains can be nasty (even deadly) in adverse weather conditions. Snow and ice can also be very problematic on most of the 52 WAV trails. The trails are often covered in snow and ice from early October and often extending well into May.
17. MEETUP.COM - If you are short on hiking partners, consider joining a Meetup hiking group (there are several groups and they always have good hikes planned) or ask for partners on a Facebook hiking 'group'. However, don't even sign up for a trail that is beyond your abilities.
18. WILDERNESS FIRST AID - Take a wilderness first aid course to prepare you in case something goes wrong. Something is more likely to go wrong on tougher trails like those found on the Terrifying 25 list.
19. BRING A REAL CAMERA - Don't forget your camera, and remember to label the pictures after you are done with each hike (you'll want to capture these moments). I recommend that you bring a real point-and-shoot or DSLR camera instead of taking pictures with your smart-phone. The reason is because the camera resolution on your smart-phone will not look good on tablet and computer monitors 10 or 20 years from now. Photos from smart-phones generally don't print or enlarge very well, either.
20. AMC WHITE MOUNTAIN GUIDE - The AMC White Mountain Guide literally describes every single trail in the White Mountains. There are no pictures in this guidebook, but it's the finest and most accurate hiking guidebook on the planet. In fact, it's widely known as the 'Hikers Bible'.
21. ROAD STATUS - Keep abreast as to which roads in the White Mountain National Forest roads are currently closed. The rangers maintain a road status log here (although it is not always updated timely).
22. AVOID DESCENDING THESE TRAILS - It is unwise to try to descend many of the trails listed on the Terrifying 25 list.
23. WINTER HIKING ON THE TERRIFYING 25 - Winter hiking on the Terrifying 25 trails can be extremely challenging and potentially dangerous. An ice ax and crampons are often required. Some trails require a Herculean effort to climb in winter (like the Great Gulf Trail).
24. CLIMBING HUNTINGTON RAVINE - The Huntington Ravine Trail on Mt. Washington is the most challenging climb on this list, and it should absolutely be avoided when wet or icy. Many hikers will find the exposure on this trail uncomfortable. One suggestion I have is to use rock climbing shoes on the steep slabs.
Osseo Trail, Mt. Flume
MORE GREAT ROCK SCRAMBLES IN NEW ENGLAND
There are many other great rock scrambles in New England. Here is a list of the best:
My online guide to all known rock-scrambling trails in New England can be found here.
the three ladders found on the Mount Morgan Trail
the extremely steep class III North Slide, North Tripyramid
Caps Ridge Trail, Mt. Jefferson
view above the ledges on South Baldface
the steep and scary end of Table Rock in Dixville Notch
Here are some helpful links covering the Terrifying 25 list:
The following guidebook is the most trusted resource to guide you to the Terrifying 25 trails in New Hampshire. Click on the book to read reviews and/or to purchase it on Amazon.com. I personally own (and love) this guidebook.
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