AT 5: New Hampshire & The White Mountains
Southern Maine vs The White Mountains
One of the most discussed topics on trail is whether The White Mountains of New Hampshire or Southern Maine is harder. I’m here to set the record straight. Southern Maine is more difficult… hands down… without a doubt. After all it did blow out my knee… leaving me stranded in god forsaken Gorham, NH for nearly two weeks. Now don’t get me wrong. It’s a cool little town, but two weeks… of take out… and stuck in a motor inn… I think it speaks for itself.
Sure you might say “well Koty it’s just a matter of opinion” and you know what… it is, but I have a strong case suggesting Southern Maine is more difficult. It’s quite simple. Just listen to your body. I’ve been on Trail a little over six months now and nothing has hurt me like Southern Maine. We went from doing comfortable 13ish mile days to 6-7 in an instant. Our longest day in Southern Maine was right at 8.5 and that was a 10 hour day. Not to mention at the end of every day I was ready to keel over. My feet and knees had enough by the time we reached Gorham. In contrast, The White Mountains were no where near as hard on my body. Sure we only pumped out 8-10 mile days, but I wasn’t dead tired at the end of the day. Besides aching knees due to steep descents… it was a much more enjoyable hike overall.
That being said let’s recap. Southern Maine is around 40ish miles of steep climbs & descents, tons of rock slabs to bust your ass on, and slow going bouldering. The bouldering can be lots of fun. The White Mountains are roughly 100 miles of steep climbs & descents, rocks, rocks, and more rocks. Both have amazing views… though The Whites are more plentiful in that category. Both contain nice tracks of flat trail and bog boardwalks for short breaks. Both are difficult. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but in my opinion Southern Maine is the most taxing(on the body) and difficult region of the entire Appalachian Trail.
Goodbye New Hampshire, Hello Vermont
Did you think that knee injury would keep me down? Nope! I have a trail to finish! It feels so good to be on the move again! Two weeks stuck in Gorham, NH was a nightmare. Leave it to a knee injury and Verizon wireless to keep you from hiking the trail. Anyways, New Hampshire was a blast! We crushed the White Mountains and are now back on what seems to be an actual trail. The Rocks are scarce and the dirt/leaves plentiful!
With 1305.5 miles under our belt and 884.3 left we are excited for what is to come. With no more 4000+ footers in our path and only a handful of bigger mountains left on the trail we are stoked for the milder terrain. I never thought I would be so excited for big mile days, but after only doing 6-10 miles a day the last few weeks it will be a welcome change. Now let’s see if we can finish this trail.
Oh… I almost forgot. We might possibly have been party to the coolest moose sighting on trail this year… that’s right… the only moose we have seen was a full grown bull on top of Mt Moosilauke! Check it out in the video below! Pictures follow!
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.