Nate hiking Mount Washington, Presidential Range, N.H.

Big Hearts, Big Day: A 17-Mile Hike With Teens in the Presidential Range

In Family Adventures, Hiking   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   6 Comments
By Michael Lanza Like two spooked deer, Marco and Liam bound ahead of us on the trail, pause to wait
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6 Responses to Big Hearts, Big Day: A 17-Mile Hike With Teens in the Presidential Range

  1. Jason Sullivan   |  September 11, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    I just stumbled upon your fantastic blog looking for a 2-3 night backpacking trip to take my 13 yo son on. I have been looking for a trip that gives that alpine feel without the long acclimation period for us flatlanders. Are the tent camping areas alpine or below tree line? How did the boy’s rank the White’s compared to the mountains out west?

    • MichaelALanza   |  September 15, 2017 at 8:50 am

      Hi Jason, I’m glad you found The Big Outside, I hope you subscribe. There’s no tent camping above treeline in the White Mountains. There are huts above treeline and designated backcountry campsites lower, in the forest, including a few on the west slopes of Mount Adams in the northern Presidential Range. The boys, and adults (including me), would say the “bigger” peaks of the Whites, like the Presidential Range, are significantly more difficult to hike than many Western trails, and great views when you’re above treeline. But, of course, the West has the really big, magnificent vistas.

  2. Mat S.   |  June 28, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    This looks like a awesome trip. I have two hiking girls {10 & 8yo}. I have conditioned them in the mountains of Virginia since they were able to walk. How do you know if they are ready for a Presidential Range traverse in the Whites of NH? Was there a pace I should expect out of them to finish this hike by dusk? We have similarly rocky trails here in VA, but not as tall/steep.

    • MichaelALanza   |  June 28, 2017 at 12:31 pm

      Hi Mat, thanks for writing. You ask a good question. I have not hiked in Virginia, but I have hiked the parts of Appalachian Trail and other peaks and trails in western North Carolina, and my sense is that the southern Appalachians are not as relentlessly rocky and steep as the Presidential Range (or much of the White Mountains, for that matter). The three teenage boys on this hike ranged in age from 14 to 17. The two oldest were soccer athletes and very fit, and the youngest, my son, also played soccer and had hiked and backpacked for years. Two of the boys had taken long hikes before. And it would be very fair to say that, while they were pleased with themselves and proud for finishing this huge hike, they were all completely physically exhausted, and the final miles were very tough for them.

      I’m not sure whether you’re asking about dayhiking the entire Presidential Range (a minimum of about 20 miles, several summits, and 8,000 vertical feet) or spreading it over two to three days, as most hikers do (staying in the Appalachian Mountain Club huts). But either way, my advice with any hikers, but especially kids, is to slowly build up the distances you hike, so as to keep it fun for them and not risk pushing them beyond their limits. When you reach the point where they’ve taken a 15- to 20-mile hike in Virginia, whether in a day or over two to three days, then see whether they’re excited about the prospect of a hike of similar distance that will probably be significantly harder. It’s important to get their buy-in. If so, they may be ready for the Presidential Range.

      Good luck.

      • Mat S   |  June 29, 2017 at 1:07 pm

        Thank you, I have had suspicions of how rocky the northeast is. The wife and I will be hiking in the Whites later in July without the kids. This will give us a better understanding of the difficulty in terrain of the Whites. Of course we [the wife and I] will include more long days on trail here to train for it. Thanks again love the blog. cheers

        • MichaelALanza   |  June 29, 2017 at 1:18 pm

          That’s good, the introduction to it will give you a good sense of what your kids can handle there. If they are avid hikers, I expect they’d really enjoy a one- or two-night hut trip, maybe the Presidential Range, or hiking the Appalachian Trail from Crawford Notch to Franconia Notch with nights at the AMC’s Galehead and Greenleaf huts. Enjoy. Even after many miles there, and after having seen many other mountain ranges, I love hiking in the Whites.

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