Six Husbands Trail, Mount Jefferson, NH
Hiking the Six Husbands Trail to Mount Jefferson, New Hampshire
The Six Husbands Trail leading up to Mount Jefferson in New Hampshire’s White Mountains has a notorious reputation, and rightfully so, but if you love the Whites, don’t miss this one.
Getting to Mount Jefferson (Great Gulf Wilderness Trail / Six Husbands Trail)
Connect with the Six Husbands Trail, start on the Great Gulf Trail. The Great Gulf Wilderness Trailhead (lat/lon: 44.3113,-71.2204) is located on the west side of NH Route 16, approximately 4.5 miles north of the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. You’ll need a White Mountain National Forest Recreation Pass to park there.
Starting out at the Great Gulf Wilderness trailhead
Starting at the Great Gulf Wilderness Trailhead, remember that pain don’t hurt and head out on the Great Gulf Trail as some nice bridges take you over the Peabody River multiple times.
Follow the Great Gulf Trail
The Great Gulf Trail winds its way through the woods, often paralleling the Peabody River, and passed multiple trail junctions. These junctions include the Osgood Trail (AT), the Sphinx Trail and others. Don’t get confused at the junctions; your path is straightforward: continue on the Great Gulf Trail.
Connect with the Six Husbands Trail
After about 4.5 miles on the Great Gulf Trail, connect with the Six Husbands Trail for the steepest and most interesting portion of the hike. The fun is about to begin.
Stay the course
After only a half-mile, reach a junction with the Buttress Trail but continue on the Six Husbands Trail onward and upward. The infamous ladders will appear soon — bolted into the route to aid hikers on the steepest parts. If it’s at all icy out, you’ll love those ladders like a long-lost dog.
Reach summit cone of Mount Jefferson
After approximately 2 miles on the Six Husbands Trail, reach the base of the Jefferson summit and pass the junction with Gulfside Trail. Continue on for the final 0.4 mile to the summit of Mount Jefferson and try to find its awesomely modest summit marker.
- Start at the Great Gulf Wilderness Trailhead.
- Follow the Great Gulf Trail for a long while — 4.5 miles — until you reach the Six Husbands Trail junction.
- Following, the Six Husbands Trail, reach the junction with the Buttress Trail in 0.5 and continue on.
- Climb, hike and struggle your way up the Six Husbands Trail another 1.8 miles to the summit of Mount Jefferson.
Note: This route description is one-way. Most hikers who ascend Mt. Jefferson via the Six Husbands Trail don’t descend the same route due to the steepness and difficulty of the trail with it’s ladders and all. There are a number of loop hikes that incorporate the Six Husbands Trail, including a loop that includes Mount Adams and/or Mount Madison, and a loop that involves the Sphinx Trail.
The history behind the name “Six Husbands”
More Mount Jefferson
- Trip Report: Mount Jefferson & Mount Adams (NH) via Six Husbands Trail
- Route: Mount Jefferson (NH) via Caps Ridge Trail
Time of year to climb: Avoid winter, late fall, and possibly early spring
Route: Six Husbands Trail
Trail distance (estimate): 6.8 miles one-way
Elevation change (estimate): 4,450 ft
You should be able to see my GPX track loaded on the map above. Get in touch if you want to use this for your own hike.