I am new to this particular StackExchange site, so if this question is off-topic please let me know. The question involves weather conditions along the A.T. through the White Mountains NH in May, as well as a general question about hiking logistics.

My wife and I are in the early stages of planning a hike of the ~160 miles of the New Hampshire A.T. during the middle of May of 2020. We would like to start in Hanover, NH and finish in Grafton Notch State Park, ME. A sizable chunk of this trail would go through the White Mountains, which I understand are very exposed and weather conditions can be erratic. I want to be sure that we are properly outfitted for completing this hike during the middle of May. I've been poking around online to find any resources regarding this section of the A.T. (so far, the best resources seem to be here and here), however, I am not really finding anything specific to the weather conditions along the A.T. in the White Mountains during May.

This post does mention:

"... I picked this route because it was snow free. Backpacking in May, east of Glencliff, NH (the west side of Mt Moosilauke) can be a real challenge, because lingering snow makes many of the higher elevation trails impassable until Memorial Day, and some stay that way into July. Your best bet is to stick to trails under 3000′ in elevation, at least if you want to avoid carrying snowshoes and microspikes."

We plan on hiking May 9th-23rd (roughly), which puts us a couple days short of Memorial Day. We don't mind packing microspikes/crampons/snowshoes/etc., but I don't want to expose us to any really dangerous mid-spring winter storms. I am also interested in other information regarding trail conditions such as severity of bugs this time of year (I understand that the bugs are particularly bad in Maine in May/June).

Questions: Does anyone here have any first or second-hand knowledge of hiking this section of the A.T. during the early to mid-spring? Can anyone point me to any resources where I may find such information?

Additional Question: Does anyone have any advice regarding the logistics and planning for this particular hike? For example, good resupply locations, shuttle services, etc.

For context, my wife and I are very physically fit and fairly experienced backpackers. We have several long trips under our belts including the rim-to-rim-to-rim Grand Canyon hike, the High Sierra Trail (including a climb of Mt. Whitney), and the A.T. through Georgia.

  • Welcome to TGO. Right now, this question is a bit off as it asks several things. Try to edit your question focusing on one particular aspect.
    – Gabriel
    Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 14:27

1 Answer 1


Well, the good news is you'll either have to deal with black flies or the last of the snowpack, but you won't have to deal with them both at the same time.

May is peak black fly season : N.H. Black Fly season

If you are above 4K feet and there is a storm, significant snow is a possibility. As far as the old snow pack goes, it should be pretty well set up corn and snow shoes won't be needed. If you plan on early morning starts, some kind of traction aids and ski poles should cover whatever you run into.

The Mt. Washington summit weather observatory is definitely where the worst weather occurs. Mt. Washington Weather Archives That link gives historical data that should give you some idea of what the worst possible conditions might be.

However, the one real drawback that I would think twice about at that time of year is mud season. While mud season is mostly over at lower elevations by May, it's in full swing on the trails up high and much of the AT through the Whites is on trails that are wet even in August. Trying to stay warm and happy when you've been slogging through 3-4 inches of mud all day is not everybody's cup of tea.

It has been many years since I've hiked the AT in N.H., the longest I've done that early in the season would be 2 - 3 days. The good thing about the AT in that section is that bail-out options are generally pretty close. It can be gorgeous and beautiful that time of year and generally there will be far fewer people than later in the season. It can also be some of the most miserable days you'll spend on the trail. Having an accurate source of weather forecasting will be essential. Most of the trail just goes above 4k briefly, but do not start the stretch through the Presidentials if you have any doubts about the weather at all.

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