Posted Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at 10:10pm
The Mt. Washington Auto Road is no ordinary ribbon of asphalt and gravel. The road rises more than 4,700 feet to the summit of the Northeast’s highest peak in a scant 7.6 miles. That’s an average grade of 12%, with sustained sections of more than 18%. But it’s no straight shot. All of which makes the Auto Road an irresistible attraction for the internal-combustion crowd. For “Climb to the Clouds” competitors, the road is a launching pad.
The 160-year-old road winds like an enormous wet noodle across the eastern and northern flanks of the 6,288-foot granite knob affectionately nicknamed the Rockpile. It can be as claustrophobic as a mine shaft below treeline, barely two cars wide. Above 4,000 feet, the road doesn’t widen, but the sense of space does. There are sheer drop-offs and spectacular vistas, but no guardrails, no safety net.