Via the Webster-Jackson Trail 5.2 miles round tip
For a relatively short hike of 2.6 miles up, Mt. Jackson in the Crawford Notch area of New Hampshire offers impressive views from its bare summit. This mountain is named for 19th century New Hampshire state geologist Charles Jackson, and not (as many would assume) for president Andrew Jackson. There are numerous trails that you can use to access this fantastic summit, but the shortest and most direct is the Webster-Jackson Trail. If a longer hike is desired you can combine summits, as many people do and hike both peaks at the same time. A fine “loop” hike can be construed between Jackson and Webster peak via the Webster Cliff Trail, this ups the milage to 6.5 but is well worth it for the views.
Approach via the Webster-Jackson trail located across from the Crawford Depot, parking is available on the pull outs of NH 302. It is approximately .1 mile south from the AMC Highland Center where refreshments and facilities are available for public use. This is a busy highway with a lot of vehicular traffic, especially in the summer months so use caution when crossing the road and be mindful of other hikers and pedestrians.
The Webster-Jackson trail is blazed in blue and leaves NH 302 from the east. It climbs along the south branch of the Elephant Head Brook. Named for an impressive elephant shaped granite and quartz ledge. This feature can be seen from the road and resembles a large grey elephant head and trunk alongside the highway (use some imagination, it is there). There are also some fine rock climbing routes on the Elephant Head that offer some views across Crawford Notch if you do not mind some exposure and on lookers below.
From the start the trail climbs at a fairly easy grade and moderates as you ascend, with some stretches of relatively flat ground, accompanied by some steep sections. At .6 miles from the trailhead there is a side path for Bugle Cliff, this ledge offers some expansive views across Crawford Notch to the summits of Mt. Willey, Mt. Tom and Mt. Field, all are also part of the New Hampshire 4,000 footer list. From here the trail rises more steadily and at 1.4 miles the junction between Mt. Jackson and Webster is reached.
The Jackson branch begins as a gradual ascent. Just before the summit cone is reached it becomes ledgy and steep. This is the only part of the hike that is really exposed to the elements, so use caution in bad weather. While there is a lot of granite there are no obstacles for dog hindrance. The only thing is a lack of reliable water at this elevation. At mile 2.6 from NH 302 the summit is reached. It affords on a clear day some amazing views of the Presidential Range, and a nice panoramic of most of the greater White Mountain region. Due to the short distance and gorgeous scenic views this is a fairly popular hike, so also be aware that you will unlikely be alone when you get to the top.
If you choose to continue on to the Webster Cliff Trail and on to Mt. Webster there are also some views from it’s summit as well. This trail is a bit rougher and more rugged than the Webster-Jackson Trail but none the less is overall pleasant and again contains no obstacles that would inhibit a dog from enjoying this hike with you.
This is a relatively easy hike to a 4,000 footer that would be enjoyed by most people in decent shape, as well as most dogs. The distances from the trailhead on NH 302 as as follows:
to Bugle Cliff: .06 miles
to Mt. Webster-Mt.Jackson fork: 1.4 miles
to Webster Cliff Trail: 2.5 miles
to Mt. Webster Summit (3,910 feet): 2.5 miles
to Mt. Jackson Summit (4,052 feet): 2.6 miles
a loop of both summits: 6.5 miles, 2,450 feet in elevation