The Presidential Range is the crowning glory of the White Mountains, and, in many respects, the Appalachian Mountains themselves.
The northernmost extention of the Presidential Range is extremely low Pine Mountain (2404'), a low, ledgy knob with a dirt road leading to a Christian retreat center on its summit.
The real Presidentials begin with the Northern Peaks, the mountains on the high ridge leading north from Mount Washington. In many ways, the four main summits of the Northern Peaks have much more to offer than Mount Washington
itself, since they cover more area, have more above timberline terrain, have no road or railway penetrating the area, and are far less crowded. These magnificent peaks--Mounts Madison, Adams, and Jefferson--rise along a single massive ridge and are the 5th, 2nd, and 3rd highest in the northeast U.S., and together make up a huge, unbroken area of above timberline ridges, ravines, and summits. Mount Clay, really just a northern sub-peak of Mount Washington, is the southernmost Northern Peak, just before the ridge merges with the bulk of Washington. The Gulfisde trail runs along this entire range--in my opinion, the nicest hike in the eastern United States.
Mount Washington (6288') is the central summit of the Presidental Range and the highest summit in the northeast U.S., rising over 800 miles from the nearest higher land, in North Carolina. Its summit is almost a small city, with a museum, cafeteria, weather station, train depot, and parking lots crowding the windy and cold summit rocks.
Northeast from Mount Washington the massive, broad Chandler Ridge provides the ascent route for the summit auto road. Between this ridge and the Northern Peaks is the vast chasm of the Great Gulf, the largest glacial cirque in the Appalachians. A vast, deep valley, it has been a federally-protected wilderness area since 1964.
The Southern Peaks stretch southwest from Mount Washington and are not as high or massive as the Northern Peaks. The Crawford Path, the oldest continuously used footpath in the country, traverses the range from Mount Clinton northwards to Mount Washington, an 8.5 mile trip.
At the base of Mount Washington is Bigelow Lawn, the largest of the level grassy areas of the Presidentials, and just south of that is twin-summited Mount Monroe (5385'), an easy scamper from Lakes of the Clouds Hut at its base. South from Monroe lie Mount Franklin (5001'), a very indistinct bump on the ridge; Mount Eisenhower (4714'), formerly Mount Pleasant, a dome-shaped peak still well above timberline; and Mount Pierce (4312'), still often called by its old name, Mount Clinton. The former name honors the obscure Franklin Pierce, the only president from New Hampshire, while the latter name does not honor the recent U.S. president, but DeWitt Clinton, governor of New York in the 1800s.
The Crawford Path leaves the main crest of the Southern Peaks at Mount Pierce to descend to Crawford Notch, while the A.T. continues on the main ridge, now below the trees, on the Webster Cliff Trail. After passing Mizpah Spring Hut (3800'), the newest (1964) of the AMC Huts, it crosses Mount Jackson (4052'), a rocky cone that was not named after Andrew Jackson, but New England scientist Charles Jackson, a geologist and one of the inventors of anethesia. Mount Webster (3910'), really just a spur of Mount Jackson, is the the abrupt end of the Southern Peaks, featuring a huge wall of cliffs that forms the massive west wall fo Crawford Notch. The Webster Cliff Trail follws the top of the escarpament south to the floor of the notch, offering a fantastic series of views.
While the Southern Peaks run southwest from Mount Washington, another long crest, the Montalban Ridge, runs southeast from the high, grassy tundra of Bigelow Lawn. Beginning with Boott Spur (5500'), a minor bump overlooking Tuckerman Ravine, the Montalban Ridge rapidly drops to below timberline and goes over many wooded summits: Mount Isolation-4005, Mount Davis (3820'), and other lower summits. The 13 mile Davis Path is the main trail, following most of the Montalbans all the way to Mount Washington. Mount Isolation is, true to its name, a relatively remote peak that many peakbaggers begrudge, but an awesome viewpoint.