A Family Adventure

Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

Caps Ridge Trail

October 9, 2021
Emilie Phillips

Tyson wanted to get out and hike this weekend. He wanted something with views, but not too long since he hasn’t been hiking or biking recently. So he picked the Caps Ridge Trail up to Mount Jefferson. That trail is on the Terrifying Twenty Five list because of some rock scrambling. It is the shortest route to Mount Jefferson, but not the easiest.

It is peak fall foliage season, so the trailhead and the trail were mobbed with people. We got a parking space only because someone else had already hiked up and back down.

Melt holes on the first outcrop

The first view is about a mile in, on a giant boulder that sticks out of the woods. The boulder has pot sized depressions. The guidebook says they were made by glacial melt water. From there, we could see (and hear) the smoke from the Cog Railway trains. We also spotted Mount Monroe and the Lakes of the Clouds hut and reminded Isaac that he had hiked to both. Isaac requested another hut trip. Tyson had sworn off traversing the rock pile without snow that trip. So he surprised me picking this trail in the Presidential Range. He said the rocks weren’t so bad and the views were worth it.

A bit above that, we started climbing up and over the Caps. Isaac was annoyed at how little rock scrambling there was and how not-terrifying it was. We passed other people on the trail — and some mislaid off the trail — who were challenged by the rocks. Somehow our discussion progressed to strategies for tracking your position on a map. And that wandered off to particle filters. By the time Tyson had finished explaining filters, we had arrived at the junction with The Cornice.

We ate lunch there enjoying the views. The views from the presidential range are like nothing else on the east coast. It feels like being on top of the world. The land drops away in every direction except Mt Washington.

Isaac and Emilie at the Mount Jefferson summit

Clouds were pushing over the Mt Monroe ridge and starting to reach us. The weather forecast had said there was moisture coming in from the Gulf of Maine. From lunch to the top was short but crowded. The top of Mount Jefferson had almost more people than rocks. Fog obscured our view west. We took the obligatory photo, then descended to Six Husbands trail for a quieter spot.

While eating afternoon snack, we looked down into the Great Gulf Wilderness. The grassy ridge below us reminded Isaac of hiking down Boott Spur after our stay at Lakes of the Clouds. Beyond the grassy ridge and Great Gulf, we looked out to the Carters. They were also holding back the clouds from Maine. It’s cool seeing land and weather interact.

Clouds pushing over the Monroe-Pierce ridge

I wanted to avoid repeating trails from our last trip to Mount Jefferson, so we circled around the east side on the AT, which wasn’t busy, and then The Cornice. Part way along the AT, Tyson decided that, actually, the rocks were really annoying. Oddly enough, when we got back to the west side of the ridge, the clouds had cleared again. South of us, the clouds slowly crept over the ridge running from Monroe to Crawford Notch. By the time we reached the bottom, the slow moving waterfall of clouds had also.

See also

All Photos

GPS Track