Tuckerman Ravine, on the east side of Mt. Washington in the White Mountain National Forest, is famous for its spectacular scenery, deep snow, and challenging terrain. Thousands of motivated visitors make the six-mile roundtrip to the floor of Tuckerman Ravine every year. Some push on to ascend the steep slopes above and a smaller number decide that a descent through Ravine is a good choice for them.
Tuckerman Ravine is located within the White Mountain National Forest and is thus managed by the US Forest Service. When added with its neighbor to the north, Huntington Ravine, the area forms the Cutler River Drainage, the most heavily used backcountry area on the White Mountain National Forest. You may visit any time of the year though the most popular seasons are the spring and summer. No matter when you come the most important rule of thumb is to plan ahead and prepare! The terrain can be overwhelming; the weather is often downright inhospitable; and the sometimes-sizeable crowds can cloud your perception of the Ravine’s actual remoteness.
The Tuckerman Ravine Trail provides year-round access to the ravine’s slopes and gullies. It leaves from Pinkham Notch and generally follows the Cutler River to the facilities at Hermit Lake. From there the trail narrows and ascends more steeply to the Lunch Rocks and the floor of the Ravine at 3.1 miles from Pinkham Notch. The trail above Lunch Rocks tackles steep slopes that are covered by snowfields for more than half of the year. This same section of trail is the segment that is regularly closed during the late spring when the main waterfall and crevasses of the Lip begin to open.
The most popular recreational activities in Tuckerman Ravine are skiing, snowboarding, mountaineering, ice climbing and hiking. All are seasonal activities, including hiking, which turns into technical mountaineering once the one trail through the Ravine gets buried in snow. Because snow can be found in the Ravine for more than half of the year, all late fall, winter and spring visitors to the Ravine should come prepared with the tools and skills necessary for steep snow travel in avalanche terrain. Every year the US Forest Service Snow Rangers respond to dozens of search and rescue incidents that result from poor planning, improper skills/equipment or bad judgment. Don’t be one of them! The following pages provide additional information about the Ravine and will help better prepare you for your next trip. The more research and planning you do now, the safer and more enjoyable will be your trip in the future.