Sargent's Purchase, New Hampshire

Mount Washington, located in Sargent's Purchase, New Hampshire, within the White Mountain National Forest, stands as the highest peak in the Northeast.

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About This Location

Mount Washington, located in Sargent's Purchase, New Hampshire, within the White Mountain National Forest, stands as the highest peak in the Northeastern United States, soaring to an elevation of 6,288.2 feet. This iconic mountain holds a prominent position in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains, situated in Coös County, New Hampshire. While the majority of the mountain falls within the bounds of the White Mountain National Forest, a 60.3-acre area encompassing the summit, including the topmost point, is part of Mount Washington State Park.

Before European settlers arrived in the region, Mount Washington held significance among indigenous peoples. Various indigenous names referred to the mountain, such as Kodaak Wadjo ("the top is so hidden" or "summit of the highest mountain") and Agiochook or Agiocochook ("the place of the Great Spirit" or "the place of the Concealed One"). The Algonquians referred to the summit as Waumbik, meaning "white rocks." The Abenaki people, who inhabited the region during European contact, considered mountaintops as the dwelling places of gods and refrained from climbing them out of religious reverence.

In 1524, Giovanni da Verrazzano became the first European to mention Mount Washington. He described the mountain when viewing it from the Atlantic Ocean as "high interior mountains."

In 1642, Darby Field claimed to have made the first recorded ascent of Mount Washington. He climbed the mountain to demonstrate to the Abenaki chief Passaconaway that the Europeans who were negotiating tribal land purchases were not subject to the gods believed to inhabit the summit. This act had political significance as it facilitated the expansion of European colonists to the north. Field again summited Agiocochook in October 1642 on an early surveying expedition that created maps of land as far as Maine, aiding the identification of arable coastal areas by settlers.

The area around Mount Washington began to flourish with the accidental discovery of a pass through the mountains by Timothy Nash in 1771. Notable figures like Ethan Allen Crawford, the first innkeeper of the White Mountains, the Willey family (who tragically lost their lives in a landslide), Daniel Pinkham (who discovered Pinkham's Notch), and the Copps (who opened their farm to travelers) all contributed to the region's growth.

With the arrival of the railroad in Pinkham's Notch in 1851, Mount Washington became a popular destination for vacationers. Tourism led to the construction of a carriage road and a cog railroad to the summit, as well as the establishment of accommodations. The completion of the Summit Houses in 1873 marked the culmination of these efforts, with one of them accommodating 50 guests, offering formal dinners, publishing a newspaper, and even featuring its own symphony orchestra.

Over nearly two centuries, hundreds of thousands of visitors have made their way to the summit of Mount Washington, seeking adventure, tranquility, a challenge, and the breathtaking panoramic views that encompass parts of five states and even Canada.

The Mount Washington Observatory, established in the 1850s, remains operational year-round. The station's crew is engaged in various research projects, and daily weather reports are transmitted to radio and TV stations in the region. An observatory TV transmitter station has joined the summit observatory, where engineers conduct live weather shows and monitor TV signals for WMTW-TV in Poland Springs, Maine.

Mount Washington is notorious for its unpredictable and extreme weather conditions. On April 12, 1934, the Mount Washington Observatory recorded a windspeed of 231 miles per hour at the summit, setting a world record that stood until 1996. Mount Washington still holds the record for the highest measured wind speed not associated with a tornado or tropical cyclone.

Visitors can reach the summit of Mount Washington through various means, including the Mount Washington Cog Railway on the western slope and the Mount Washington Auto Road from the east. The mountain is a popular hiking destination, with the Appalachian Trail crossing the summit. Other activities enjoyed in the area include glider flying, backcountry skiing, and annual cycle and running races, such as the Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb and Road Race.

Location Features

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Sargent's Purchase, New Hampshire

GPS Coordinates:
44.270280, -71.303330
Directions to location:
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Directions to parking area:
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Parking Notes:
Parking varies depending on how visitors decided to reach the summit. There are multiple different trail options along with the cog railway and the Mount Washington Auto Road.


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