Three Ways to Mt. Washington Summit without Hiking

One day's exposure to mountains is better than cartloads of books. John Muir Click To Tweet

John Muir was a naturalist who transversed obstacles to get closer to nature. I am in awe of hikers of his ilk, yet am inclined towards laziness.

When it comes to seeing amazing vistas and scenic views I don’t mind a walk to get there, but I’m not a great hiker. One does not simply hike Mt. Washington without preparation.

In the meantime, I’m planning to visit Mt. Washington this summer during our annual camping trip to New Hampshire. So far I’ve bamboozled two other humans and a dog into the adventure which limits our mode of transportation. But let’s break down three ways you can visit the top of Mt. Washington without hiking up. Once you get there is up to you.

Photo by benfrantzdale via Flickr
Photo by benfrantzdale via Flickr

Take a train
Interested in gorgeous views and not in a rush to get there? Try taking a steam train (there are also biodiesel trains available) to the summit and back. You can book a three-hour round trip ride from late April to November. Check out Mount Washington Cog Railway website for schedules and specials. Two things reviewers often mentioned about the Cog Railway was the family friendly atmosphere and the knowledgeable conductors.

Cost:  Adult Round Trip $69 biodiesel and $75 steam. Adult One-Way Up or Down is $48.

If you decide to hike halfway, awesome, but make sure you understand that you can get a guaranteed ticket up on the train by calling in advance, but getting a one-way down ticket must be purchased on the summit and that is only if there’s any space available.

Take Mount Washington Auto Road

Self-Guided along the Auto Road
Want to tackle the Auto Road, but at your own pace? You can drive your own car, listen to the audio tour by CD or your favorite playlist while you climb up winding roads. Stop along the way at the scenic points and don’t fell rushed once you reach the summit. You can drive along the auto road from late May to late October but check out the vehicle and other safety restrictions before you go. If you don’t think your car or your nerves are up to the narrow road consider a guided tour!

Cost: $29 for car & driver and $9 per extra adult passenger.

Guided Tour along the Auto Road
Want someone else to do the driving? Take a guided tour by van from mid-May to mid-October where you can enjoy tidbits from your “stage driver” and take pictures at the same time. A two-hour tour takes you straight up to the summit and gives you an hour on top while the three-hour tour gives you chances to get out along the way up.

Cost: A two-hour tour costs $36 for one adult while a three-hour tour costs $65 for one adult.

Bonus: Hikers can get a guaranteed ride up for $31 or a less guaranteed ride down for $31.

Going in the winter? Try the SnowCoach!

One last note is while it may be summer at the beginning of your trip the weather at Mt. Washington is unpredictable and swiftly changes so bring extra layers.

Now that I’ve done lots of “sleuthing” online for my trip I’m more in a quandary than when I started. I’ll let you know which one we ended up taking!

Have you tried the AutoRoad or taken the train? Let me know which you liked best in the comments below.