Hiker Completes All 650 Documented White Mountains Trails Over Summer

by Taylor Cunningham
hiker-completes-all-650-documented-white-mountains-trails-over-summer
No release required

After three failed attempts, a man has officially hiked all 650 documented trails in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

This summer, Philip Carcia was finally able to mark the major accomplishment off of his bucket list. The determined adventurer traversed 1,958.3 miles with a total of 570,369 vertical feet of gain—in only 90 days. Carcia tried mastering the feat in 2020 and 2021 but barely missed the single-season designation in both years.

“I remember sitting on the dirt road there that leads up to the trailhead [that marked the completion of the project],” he told Outside Magazine. “And just having a very quiet moment and feeling like the weight of three years had just started to slowly come off of my shoulders.”

Carcia is the only person known to ever meet the challenge.

Using the Appalachian Mountain Club’s White Mountain Guide, the hiker walked an average of 22 miles per day, mostly alone. Carcia left the most grueling trail for his final day, the White Mountains Direrrissima, a 40-mile stretch that fits all 48 of the state’s 4,000 footers into one lump.

Carcia admitted that the last chore was much harder than the guide explained. To get through, a hiker needs to have both logistical wit and extreme endurance. The trail weaves into parts of Maine at times, and it includes paths that even the most advanced athletes would never cover in a lifetime.

“Because of the intricacies of routes in the network, you’re backtracking quite a bit,” he said.

“If you go into the northern Presidential range, and you look at the networks that you’re responsible for, there are dozens and dozens and dozens and dozens of trails on a single side of a mountain,” Carcia continued. “It looks like a plate of spaghetti was thrown against it.”

The White Mountains Hiker Only Took 2 Rest Days in Three Months

During his three-month project, Philip Carcia lived in a converted Toyota Yaris. To meet his goal, he spent hours driving to trailheads and arranging for shuttles. In all, Carcia only took two rest days. One he had planned in advance, and the other was due to a broken phone and necessary auto repairs.

Because he failed his previous attempts, Carcia refused to give in to his constant temptations to stop for ice cream in nearby towns. And he turned down a few invitations to dinner with friends. Instead, he opted to walk just a little further.

And when he completed the treks, he was so shocked that he spent three days obsessing over maps to ensure he didn’t miss any of the required miles. He had perfectly planned in a few buffer days to go back and complete missed hikes if he had. But luckily, he did everything right the first time around. And now he’s reveling in his well-earned accomplishment.

“Going into this project, I already knew that I was going to love it and loathe it the entire time,” he admitted. “At this point, in a really beautiful way, there aren’t a lot of surprises. It’s really tough hiking, and it’s a long road through the valley and up over the peaks and back to where you started. But you know, I love it nonetheless.” 

Outsider.com