Mount Jackson (4052’) and Mount Webster (3910’) are the two southernmost peaks along the Presidential Range. Although Mount Webster isn’t included in a traditional Presidential Traverse, nor is it a 4000 footer, it’s a peak often climbed in conjunction with Mount Jackson.
From the summit of Mount Webster you can see across Crawford Notch to the Willey Range and if you spin 180 degrees, you can see the southern presidentials along with Mount Washington. Glimpse a little further southwest from the Willey Range and Mount Carrigain (another 4000 footer) can be seen.
From the open summit of Mount Jackson, you can see all of the southern presidentials and Mount Washington. Look to your east for views of the Dry River Wilderness along with Mount Isolation (4003’).
- Webster-Jackson Trail & Webster Cliff Trail (A loop over both summits)
- Miles: 4.8 (White Mountains Trail Map 30th Ed.) *Not including spur trails
- Elevation Gained: 2500’
The most traditional way to hike Mount Jackson and Webster is via the Webster-Jackson Trail. The trailhead is located off of route 302 and parking is located across the street from the trailhead. The trailhead is located on the same side of the road as Saco Lake and the trail sign is located south of the lake.
The Webster-Jackson Trail is a loop trail that splits 1.3 miles from the trailhead. Typically, hikers will take the Jackson branch to the summit of Mount Jackson, then head along the Webster Cliff Trail to the summit of Mount Webster. They will then descend the Webster branch of the Webster-Jackson Trail and continue on to the trailhead – finishing up the loop.
Along the first 1.3 miles of the Webster-Jackson Trail there are two spur trails which offer views of the Willey Range. The first spur trail leads .7 miles to Elephant Head lookout and the second, found a little further up the Webster-Jackson Trail, leads to Bugle Cliff. The spur trail leading to Bugle Cliff is less than one-tenth of a mile long and worth the walk. The views from Elephant Head are not as spectacular, unless you are only hiking to Elephant Head.
The Webster-Jackson Trail is moderate in elevation gain, rocky, and easy to follow. There’s a well-beaten path to the summit, the trail is well marked, and there is only one major water crossing. The final few feet of the Jackson branch is along a rock slab that is marked with cairns. There is a col where Silver Cascade descends through the Webster branch of the trail and will require the hiker to descend and then reascend less than 100 feet of elevation in both directions. A beautiful waterfall is located in the col and it’s worth stopping at for a short break.
Along the Webster Cliff Trail, directly leaving the summit of Mount Jackson, there are a few steep rocky sections that will require some slower navigation. The remainder of the Webster-Cliff Trail is easy to navigate and only requires mild elevation gain heading towards the summit of Mount Webster.
Summer versus Winter Ascent of Jackson and Webster
The Jackson-Webster Loop is the perfect hike for someone beginning to work on the 4000 footers of New Hampshire. The beauty of this hike is that it is doable in all seasons, with the correct gear.
In the winter, once there is a decent amount of snow on the ground, it’s more common to hike Jackson only. However, the final section of trail, right before the summit of Mount Jackson, is often covered in ice and will require traction. The Webster Cliff Trail between the two summits may not be as well packed in winter and it’s important to pay attention to trail conditions posted online to determine what gear to bring. As long as you carry proper gear and check current trail and weather conditions, this is a very doable and enjoyable hike in winter.
Overall, the Webster-Jackson Loop is a very enjoyable and easy/moderate hike. The views are spectacular, it’s located right near the AMC Highland Center, and is a great hike to start off your journey towards completing the forty-eight 4000 footers of New Hampshire.
Directions to Webster – Jackson Trailhead
There is a small set of parking across the road from the trailhead, which can get filled up on busy days. You can also park at the train station a few hundred feet up the road.