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Mt Washington Cog Railroad

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Mount Washington Cog Railway | White Mountains of New Hampshire
Mount Washington Cog Railway

Hop aboard the Mt. Washington Cog Railway and be transported to the top of the tallest peak in the northeastern United States. A ride to the summit of the world’s first mountain climbing cog-railway is a fascinating blend of antiquity, mechanization, and the majesty of nature.

Mt Washington Cog Railway At-A-Glance

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Since 1869, the Cog has been making its way up the slopes of New Hampshire's Mt. Washington. Though the train speed is slow, the grade is steep and the ride is dramatic. One section of the track, Jacob’s Ladder, is reported to contain the steepest railroad trestle in the world. A trip on the historic Cog Railway is one of the best things to do in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Above the tree line on the Cog Railway | White Mt. National Forest | New England Travel
Above the Tree Line on the Cog

Located in the 750,000-acre White Mountain National Forest, the Cog travels through three climate zones. The trip begins at Marshfield Base Station in dense timberland. Climbing steadily past the 4000’ Waumbek Station, passengers encounter scrubby tundra flora before reaching the treeless alpine summit at 6,266 feet.


The best time to visit Mt Washington is from mid-May to mid-October when the snow has melted and before it flies. The months of July and August are the warmest (and most crowded). Peak foliage is generally the first or second week of October.


There are many hotels near Mt Washington ranging from economy to luxury. Here are three well established choices:

Economy: Moose Brook Inn

Mid-Range: Eagle Mt House

Cog Railway at the Waumbec Station | Things to do in the White Mountains | New Hampshire Travel
Waumbec Station


Mt. Washington is famous for having the 2nd highest wind speed ever recorded (231 miles per hour), and some of world’s most changeable weather. The train’s cog and rack mechanism, like a bicycle chain, allows the train to safely ascend and descend the mountain throughout the year.

Use our trip planner to organize your day at the Cog. Read our article on climbing to the top of Mt Washington for more Mt. Washington facts, and information on ascending the summit by auto or foot.

Upper Elevation Mt Washington Cog Railway | White Mountains of New Hampshire
Upper Elevation Mt Washington


There are two types of locomotives, biodiesel and steam. The biodiesel engine makes each leg of the journey in about 45 minutes (the steam is a little longer). The rest of the 3-hour roundtrip is spent exploring the Mt. Washington State Park Visitor Center.

Cog Railway Tracks to Mt Washington Summit | White Mountain National Forest
Cog Railway Tracks

The Visitor Center is great fun. The Sherman Adams Building houses a cafeteria, museum, rest rooms, gift shop, and large observation deck. Other buildings include the historic Tip Top House and the Mt. Washington Weather Observatory.

Sherman Adams Visitor Center & Observation Deck | Mt Washington Observatory
Visitor Center & Observation Deck

Even in the summer it is wise to bring a waterproof jacket, hat, sturdy shoes, and gloves. There is almost always a stiff wind at the summit, and lower temperatures than base station. Also, precipitation moves in and out quickly. Dress for the weather so you can enjoy the summit.

Marshfield Base Station at the Cog Railway | Mt Washington Weather Observatory
Marshfield Base Station

Standing at the peak of Mt. Washington is awe-inspiring. On a clear day, visibility can include views of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Quebec, Vermont, and the Atlantic Ocean. Don’t leave without a photo of you at the Mt. Washington summit sign!

NH White Mt State Park | Mt Washington Summit | New Hampshire Travel
Mt Washington Summit


  • Check the weather: Try to visit on a sunny day. The summit is spectacular in any weather, but more fun when the weather is dry and clear.

  • Make a reservation: Trains leave throughout the day, but this attraction stays busy. Reserve ahead if you want to sit together or have a limited time frame.

  • Book the biodiesel engine for a smooth, quiet, clean ride. Having done both, we can attest the steam engines are sootier, smellier, and jerkier than the biodiesels.

  • Arrive early to allow yourself time to explore the (free) Cog Railway Museum, and the engines on the grounds of the Marshfield Base Station.

  • For best views: Train cars have three seats on the left side and two on the right. We think the left side of the car has better panoramic viewing.

  • Photos on Ascent & Decent: Be aware that you can stand and move around the car on the ascent, but NOT the descent (so get any photos you want on the way up).

  • Keep track of the time: Your time at the summit will be approximately one hour. Don’t miss your train down or you will be standby for empty seats on later trains.

  • You can read our article on climbing to the top of Mt Washington for more Mt. Washington facts, and information on ascending the summit by auto or foot.

All aboard! Laura and Randy

For more information on New Hampshire travel read our travel blog posts on:

Route 302 | Entrance to Cog Railway
Route 302 | Entrance to Cog Railway


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