Mount Washington Loop via Ammonoosuc Ravine and Jewell Trail - Mount Monroe Spur Variation
While every route to Mt. Washington is considered Difficult and should not be underestimated, the Ammo-Jewell loop is one of two common choices for newer hikers seeking to tackle a larger summit. The loop is longer but more gradual than its other well-traveled counterpart, the Tuckerman Ravine Trail-Lion's Head loop. Additionally, Ammo-Jewell passes by the Lake of the Clouds AMC hut, where you can refill your water and purchase snacks (or ibuprofen if the old "rockpile" gets the better of your knees...).
The loop can be completed in either direction, but hikers typically chose to ascend via Ammo and take Jewell on the return. Both options provide ample time above treeline, which can be breathtaking on a clear day but dangerous in variable weather conditions.
When hiking counter-clockwise, you will reach the Lake of the Clouds hut after a moderate 3.1 mile trek. The Ammo trail also joins the Crawford Path at this point, which provides the option of tacking on Mt. Monroe. After departing Lake of the Clouds, you will ascend the well-maintained and historic Crawford Path to the Mt. Washington summit. Along with tourists from the Auto Road and Cog Railway, Mt. Washington's famed summit is filled with history and ongoing scientific research projects.
The descend begins to the northwest on the Gulfside Trail, which like the Crawford Path, is part of the Appalachian Trail. After about 0.8 miles, follow the Jewell Trail departing on your left. The Jewell trail then meanders for between 3.5-4.0 miles back to either the Ammo trailhead or Cog Railway parking lot.
Parking at the trailhead is somewhat limited; on popular summer days, the lot will reach capacity early. If the trailhead lot is full, do not park on the road. Instead, continue up to the Cog Railway Base Station and follow signs to their dedicated hiker parking lot. You can find information regarding the Cog's policies and fees here.
The Ammo-Jewell Loop is one of the best options for children to summit Mount Washington. That being said, it is still a long hike with significant elevation gain and exposure. Any children attempting Mount Washington should be experienced hikers, ideally with other 4k-footers under their belt.
Mount Monroe, or even the Lake of the Clouds AMC hut, provide excellent back-up destinations if conditions don't permit a full Washington summit (or if it's just not your kid's day...).