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Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Winter at the Cog — The Mount Washington Cog Railway

Winter Cog Railway New Hampshire

Our neighbors recently returned from a trip to New Hampshire where they headed up the Cog Railway to roast marshmallows in a winter wonderland. We heard this and immediately thought of our train o b s e s s e d toddler (obsessed may not even be the right word). We quickly grabbed tickets and planned a festive weekend away up north to Mount Washington and Santa's Village.


Cog Railway Winter

Mount Washington is famous for being New England's highest summit and home to some of the world's worst weather. The famous cog railway and auto road take visitor's to the top of New England by railway or car. While open in the warmer months, the Mount Washington State Park summit facilities shut down for the winter in mid-October and the only way to reach the summit is on-foot. You can however, still experience the Cog Railway which operates throughout the colder months on a bit of a different schedule. While you won't be reaching the summit, you can ride the cog to Waumbek Station (elevation 4,000') where a bonfire, hot cocoa, marshmallows, and a winter wonderland are waiting for you. 

Cog Railway Winter

Cog Railway Winter

To start the adventure, you drive up to Marshfield Base Station (elevation 2700’), the highest full service winter facility accessible by car on Mount Washington. Here you can see the Cog Railway Museum, a food court/convenience store, restroom facilities, and a gift shop before boarding the train. It’s also a popular base camp for winter hiking, snowshoeing, backcountry skiing/snowboarding. There is a groomed trackside service trail available all winter as well as trailheads for two of the major hiking routes to the summit of Mount Washington (Jewell and Ammonoosuc Ravine trails). You can see hikers heading up the mountain as you make your way up the cog to Waumbek Station. 

Cog Railway Winter

We checked in with the ticket booth before heading to the train and snagging a seat up front. We were pleasantly surprised to see Santa himself board our train and join us on the trip. It's a relatively quick ride and once you reach the station, you have a chance to leave the train for about 25 minutes and round trip rides to Waumbek are roughly 1 hour. You can purchase hot dogs and s’mores to roast down at the Base Station.

Need to Know

  • Bundle up - the train has heat and there is a bonfire at the station, but bundle up for the wait outside and the visit to the station. It will be cold and windy - I promise. 
  • Get there early to enjoy the visitor's center and allow time to park and get to the train 
  • During the holidays, Santa boards the train and the kids received cog ornaments to take home 
  • Leave the dogs at home. 
  • 2023 cost: $53 for adults, $39 for children (ages 4-12) - under the age of 4 can ride on your lap for free

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