I was on a trip through the Adirondacks, ending with a ferry ride from Maine to Nova Scotia when we heard about a road close by that was a “must ride”. I took the Mount Washington Auto Road to the summit of Mount Washington for one of the craziest rides I have ever experienced. After it was over I got a sticker saying “This Bike Climbed MT. WASHINGTON” from the grumpy guy working at the toll booth, changed my underwear, had a beer and dinner and then hit the road - NS bound.
There are half a dozen or so Mount Washington’s in North America, but this one also goes by the name “Agiocochook” and is located in New Hampshire. At it’s peak it of 6,288 ft; it is the highest in Northeastern United States.
Located in Gorham, NH, the mountain is located in the White Mountain National Forest and the summit is part of the Mount Washington State Park.
The mountain is known for its terrible weather, and holds the title of the “Worst Weather in the World”, although I think that’s a self-proclaimed title, it rings true. During our visit the wind was absolutely hammering us the whole way up and howled even more at the summit. But the spectacular views and heart pounding ride more than made up for the less than ideal conditions. There is a weather observatory at the summit that once recorded a wind speed of 231mph, which stood as a world record for most of the 20th century.
If the road is a bit too sketchy for you, there is a railway that carries passengers to the top. The rack-and-pinion railway is basically a toothed rail with gears riding on top to allow the train to climb the steep grades. The railway was constructed in 1868 and was the first of its kind. It has an average grade of ~25%, and is 37.41% at the steepest section.
Mount Washington Auto Road
The road is absolutely nuts. If you don’t like heights than it’s not for you, but why the hell would you be climbing a mountain if you don’t like heights?
The road closes often due to poor weather. In fact when we were there it was touch and go for the week leading up to our visit. You can ride the road from May – late October anywhere from 7:30am to 6pm depending on the month.
At the base of the mountain there is a small toll booth where you pay $17 per motorcycle or $29 per car. There are some restrictions on which vehicles are allowed on the road. In short you need a low gear and not oversized.
The entire road is fairly well cared for, hence the relatively pricy toll. The paved section of the road has a great surface and the last mile of the road is gravel. The road is really narrow, has lots of tight corners, and an average grade of 12%, making for an interesting time when meeting traffic head-on. No Passing!, really though don’t pass.
The road was completed in 1861 and climbs up 4700 feet from base to summit. The road winds its way up the mountain in spectacular fashion, clinging to the side of the cliffs, sometimes without any guardrails present. A fuck-up could only result in a big SPLAT and it has, many-many-many times. During my visit the list of deaths on Mount Washington was at 152, and is regularly added to.
The Auto Road has a great history of auto racing and is home to the Mount Washington Hill-climb Auto Race aka “Climb to the Clouds” and also hosts running and bicycle races.
So What Are You Waiting For?
Head for the Mount Washington Auto Road for one of the most thrilling on-road hill climbs in the Country! Click here for more great Moto Roads.
GPS : Garmin nüvi 550, Rear Rack: SW Motech Rear Rack, Auxiliary Fuel: RotopaX, Cruise Control: Go Cruise, Seat: Sargent Seat, Handgaurds: Barkbusters Storm, Bashplate: R&G Bash Plate, Touring Screen: Powerbronze flip/tall Screen, & Crashbars: SW Motech Crashbars.
Photos by Author.