On a recent bluebird day, the marketing crew at White Mountain Attractions decided to celebrate the winter season aboard the Mount Washington Cog Railway. Yes, that’s right – the Cog runs in the winter. With snow pants on, cameras ready, and nary a cloud in the sky, we had high expectations for our jaunt on the world’s first cog railway (affectionately dubbed the “Railway to the Moon”). After all, there's a reason this attraction rates as one of the best things to do during winter in the White Mountains!

But before we chug too far along, let's start at the beginning.

The trip departs from Marshfield Base Station, which you can access by following Base Station Road from Route 302 to the lower flanks of Mount Washington  During your drive, take note of the tallest peak ahead – if you squint hard and spot some buildings up the top, that’s Mount Washington, and you will be ascending it shortly!

Cog Ascent in Winter

No matter the season, we highly recommend booking your tickets for the Cog Railway in advance. This popular experience sells out quickly, especially on weekends and holidays. It's also one of the top kid friendly activities in the White Mountains, so expect lots of excited faces and families to fill up your train car.

Cog Railway (Winter): Three Kids Standing in Front of Train

Head downstairs to purchase or pick up your tickets. Then, it’s time to head out to the platform and board your brightly hued ride for the day! We adore the meticulously maintained interiors of each train, complete with polished wood, ingenious benches built to accommodate the average 25% grade going both up and down, and plenty of windows for picture taking.

After a cheerful whistle to mark the start of our journey, the Cog begins its ascent partway up the 6,288' that makes up Mount Washington. Along the way, a Cog Railway brakeman will narrate your fifteen minute trip complete with historical facts, animal spotting, and tales of the infamous “Devil’s Shingle”.

Mt. Washington Cog Railway (Winter): Brakeman

Your stop for the day is Waumbek Station, a picturesque series of platforms perched at 3,900'. This is the perfect place to catch some views while dodging the mountain's legendary winter weather, and on a sunny day, it simply can't be beat.

Mount Washington Cog Railway (Winter): Waumbek Station

Once the train stops at Waumbek Station, visitors can spend the next 25 minutes cooking s'mores and hotdogs over a mountainside firepit, drinking hot cocoa or coffee while admiring the view, or snuggling up in a warming hut after rolling around in the pristine snow. It’s Mount Washington like you’ve never experienced before, and quite frankly, we’re in love.

Mount Washington Cog Railway (Winter): Toasting Marshmallows

If you’re lucky enough during your time at Waumbek, you just might meet some hardy snowshoers or skiers headed up the mountain. We took a few minutes to chat with a family group before getting on the train for the ride back down, and once aboard, marveled at their endurance as well as our wind-whipped cheeks, rosy with winter’s cold.

Once we arrived back at Marshfield Base Station, we took a few minutes to explore the Cog’s small yet informative museum. Here, you can learn a bit more about the history of this mountain climbing marvel. We even sat atop the replica Devil’s Shingle, and from our odd seat, were reminded once again that a little bit of daring and a whole lot of imagination can lead to some truly marvelous adventures.

Ready to plan your own journey? We think a visit to the Cog, plus a day skiing at Bretton Woods, dining at the Omni Mount Washington Resort, or grabbing a beer at Rek’-lis Brewing Co. in Bethlehem, would make for one heck of an outing! Or you can always take a look at some of our other winter trip ideas.

(Photos by Colleen Eliason)


Follow along on this adventure on Instagram! Click the video below.