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Unless mentioned explicitly, information here applies to the normal hiking season, which extends roughly from Memorial Day to Columbus Day. Conditions in winter, and in the potentially equally dangerous late fall and early spring, are very different and require a completely different approach. Late spring is Mud Season, when there is a mixture of mud at lower elevations and melting snow at higher elevations, it leads to unpleasant hiking and to damaging erosion of trails.

Guidebooks and Maps

A serious hiker will want at least one good, comprehensive guide book for each region, together with a set of maps. I will mention the "official" guidebooks for each region, of course there are an enormous number of others. The Mountain Wanderer Bookstore is an excellent resource for those wanting a wider choice of books and maps.

New Hampshire

For New Hampshire the essential guidebook is the White Mountain Guide published by the AMC. It describes every trail in the White Mountains, and gives distances and elevation gains, together with descriptions which are more useful to the hiker than those in most of the other guidebooks that I have seen. It has to be read carefully, often the vital information about steepness or other difficulty is in a single sentence. But if you read the description carefully you will rarely find any surprises on the trail.

Starting with the 26th Edition (published in 1998) a new set of maps, generated by using GPS on the entire trail system, is included. The maps that come with the book are printed on paper, a set of maps printed on Tyvec (very resistant to tearing and to water) is available separately. The maps published with earlier editions are much less good, if you have an earlier edition get at least the new maps.

The 26th edition also shows the elevations of all the points in the summary tables, this is essential information for those using an altimeter.

The 26th edition no longer includes information on most trails south of Rt 25. They are now covered in a new publication, the Southern New Hampshire Trail Guide. This comes with a map, produced like those of the White Mountain Guide, showing the trails on Mt. Monadnock on one side, and those on Mt. Cardigan on the other. The map included with the book is printed on paper, a Tyvec map is available separately.

The 4,000-Footers of the White Mountains, A Guide and History, by Steve Smith and Mike Dickerman, is a new book that will probably join the White Mountain Guide as an essential companion to serious hikers in the region. I have written a review of it for the Charles River Mud, the newsletter of the Boston chapter of the AMC.

There are several guidebooks that describe selected trails in more detail, with notes on the history and on the trees and birds encountered. You may wish to have one or more of them, I have found the following very interesting:

One book that I pack with me when going to summits with good views is Brent Scudder's Scudder's White Mountain Viewing Guide. It gives detailed 360 degree panoramas for 43 peaks, together with some notes on how to get there, and a partial text description of the views.

The AMC maps are so good that it is difficult to justify purchasing other maps. Three that I use are:

For a descrition of the many other maps that cover the White Mountains see my New Hampshire Hiking Maps page.

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For Maine the essential guidebook is the AMC Maine Mountain Guide published by the AMC. Trail descriptions are not as detailed as those in the White Mountain Guide, but they are fully adequate. Starting with the 8th Edition (1999) there is a set of maps produced with GPS. The maps that come with the guidebook are printed on paper, many peakbaggers will want to purchase the separate Tyvec versions.

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For Vermont the essential guidebook is the Long Trail Guide published by the Green Mountain Club (GMC). The maps that come with the guide are not very detailed, many will want to get the two maps published by Map Adventures. The first is the Northern Vermont Hiking Trails, which map covers Mt. Mansfield, Camel's Hump and more. The second is Vermont and New Hampshire Hiking, which covers Killington, Abraham and Ellen, as well as other areas. The GMC also publishes a Trail Map of Mt. Mansfield.

All the Vermont Fours are covered in the Long Trail Guide, but several of the peaks on the NE 100 Highest list are not. These will be found described in the Day Hiker's Guide to Vermont, also published by the GMC.

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