What to Know About Redlining New Hampshire’s White Mountains

You’re looking for the ultimate lifelong hiking challenge in the White Mountains. A race to the finish isn’t what you’re about, and checking mountains off a list isn’t up your alley. Or maybe you’ve already finished all the major “lists” and are looking for something completely different to pursue. Either way, if you prefer the marathon to the sprint, then redlining may just be the right “list” for you.

Introduction to Redlining

Some of the lesser-traveled trails near Mount Moosilauke.

Redlining was born out of the same idea as the other lists: to give some of the more heavily trafficked trails a break, and to encourage individuals to get outside and hike. Redlining takes those goals and kicks it up several notches, because completing this “list” will take years. So what is redlining? According to the website where you can find information on redlining, it means hiking all of the trails in the AMC White Mountain Guide. You get to choose what guide you use; however, it’s recommended that you use the newest edition. As of October 2018, only 51 people have officially redlined the White Mountains. The majority of those individuals used the 29th edition of the AMC guide.

How many miles of trails will you hike to complete this challenge? In the latest edition of this guide there are 1,420 miles of trails to hike. However, you will ultimately end up hiking more than 1,420 miles in completing this goal because many of the trails are out-and-back, dead-ends, and only accessible by hiking other trails. Several of the trails don’t lead to summits and are rarely used, which means they may be more difficult to follow. Inevitably, setting out on this journey will mean honing in on your navigation skills and learning to enjoy the adventure.

The Rules

The Kate Sleeper Trail.

Just like completing any of the other lists in New England, redlining is based on the honor system. The expectation is that you hike all of the trails in any edition of the AMC White Mountain Guide, with a few exceptions. If you intend to hike any of the trails in winter, it can be difficult to know if you’re on the official trail. Making a good-faith effort to hike the actual trail in winter can be counted toward completion. You’re not required to hike every path to every tent site or privy; simply hiking to the campsite or shelter is sufficient. Additionally, you aren’t required to hike herd paths or unofficial trails you may encounter.

Keeping track of what trails you’ve hiked can be difficult with so many miles to go. The Grid website, home base of information on redlining, has spreadsheets that almost all redliners use to keep track of what trails they’ve hiked. These sheets can be downloaded and filled out at your leisure. They’re broken down into sections based on the White Mountain Guide and give you overall percentages of how much of the trails you’ve hiked.

Final Thoughts

The Osseo Trail.

The beauty of redlining is that it’s simple and can vary greatly based on the individual. There are minimal rules to follow and it can’t be rushed. This is the journey of a lifetime, not a single-season completion rate. It’s a lesson in patience and persistence. All you really need is a set of White Mountain maps, an AMC guidebook, and the desire to spend time in the woods. Think of redlining as a “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel. You get to decide how the story goes and every path you take will lead you further into self-discovery. Redlining takes the adventurer back to the basics, to what hiking is all about: spending hours in the woods.

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