Tuckerman Inferno Course Description


The Tuckerman Inferno adventure race started in 2000 as the primary annual fundraiser for Friends of Tuckerman Ravine. The race pays homage to the original American Inferno ski races of the 1930s. While the original American Infernos were top to bottom ski races on Mount Washington, the current Tuckerman Inferno includes running, kayaking, biking and hiking to create a pentathlon that is one of the most challenging single-day adventure races in the country. Individuals and relay teams of two to five people compete to see who will be the fastest to cover an approximately 36-mile course that starts in the Mount Washington Valley and finishes in Tuckerman Ravine.   

The race has been run continually since 2000 in all types of weather, and would not be possible without the efforts of many dedicated volunteers and partners including with the support and generosity of the following organizations and local businesses – the United States Forest Service, Believe in Books Literacy Foundation, Attitash Ski Area, Mountain Rescue Service, White Mountain Swift Water Rescue Team, New Hampshire State Parks, Mount Washington Observatory, Appalachian Mountain Club, Glen Ellis Campground, The Flatbread Company, New Hampshire Army National Guard, New Hampshire State Police, Storyland, Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue, the Mount Washington Avalanche Center, AbilityPLUS and P1 Race Timing


The Inferno Pentathlon starts at the Believe in Books Literacy Foundation Trail network in Intervale, NH and finishes in Tuckerman Ravine on Mount Washington.  The race consists of five legs -- Run, Kayak, Bike, Hike and Ski.  The transition zones are at the following locations: 

  1. Start (Run):  Believe in Books Literacy Foundation, Route 16, Intervale, NH
  2. Run / Kayak:  Thorne Pond, Bartlett, NH which is next to the Saco River
  3. Kayak / BikeBelieve in Books Literacy Foundation, Route 16, Intervale, NH
  4. Bike / Hike:  Direttissma Trail Head Parking Lot, Pinkham Notch, NH (just before the AMC Visitor Center)
  5. Hike / Ski: Tuckerman Ravine trail to Tuckerman Ravine ski course (TBD), Mount Washington, NH

    See Full Course Map Here

NEW FOR 2020: The Inferno events will be centered on the Theater in the Woods at the Believe in Books Literacy Foundation.  The Race Start, Kayak-to-Bike, and Awards Party will be held in and around the Theater. We will have food trucks and entertainment all afternoon for folks to hang out a socialize after their legs finish up.


Total distance, 8.3 miles, 600 feet total climb

  1. The run leg start is at the Believe in Books Foundation, Theater in the Woods in Intervale NH.
  2. Run starts with a 1-mile trail run along the Believe in Books trail network. (Up service road, around the theater to Storybook Trail and Great Ridge Trail)
  3. Turn Right onto the shoulder of the Conway Scenic Railway for 1 mile
  4. Right onto Station Rd, Left onto 302 for 3.5-mile road run to Attitash Ski Area
  5. Complete a ~2.5-mile trail running course from Attitash to Bear Peak
  6. Cross Rt 302 from the Bear Peak parking lot into Thorne Pond pond recreation area.
  7. Go left around Thorne Pond on the gravel road to the run/kayak transition zone.

2020 Start Location and Notes:

NEW FOR 2020: The Run Leg includes both trail and road running components (and may even include running on corn snow at Attitash) The start is on the service road below the theater in the woods adjacent to the Conway Scenic Railway tracks.


Total distance, 5.5 miles, approximately 200 feet total vertical drop (36 ft/mile)

Run / Kayak Transition at Thorne Pond The Run/Kayak transition zone is at Thorne Pond Conservation Area, located directly across Route 302 from the Attitash Bear Peak Ski Area. The gate to the pond will be open only on race day. A parking lot and porta-potty facilities will be available there for racers and spectators. 

River Description:

  1. This whitewater course along the Saco River requires technical boating skills with a total vertical drop over the 6 miles of approximately 220 feet or about 36 feet/mile. The river is mostly moving water with 2-3 Class II Rapids.
  2. Following a short run from the run/kayak transition zone, kayakers will enter their boats on river right. Inferno Racers regularly tackle the course in both whitewater, recreational and sea kayaks.
  3. Note that the river is narrow with many sharp bends, often containing fallen trees and obstacles; the current is strong and the river is sometimes divided into several channels.
  4. There is a strong rapid about 200 yards above the Gift Shop Covered Bridge (mile 3.5), followed by a rapid just below the Route 302 Bridge; another strong rapid follows immediately.
  5. The river then widens and soon passes under a railroad trestle (mile 4.2).  
  6. The Kayak Leg ends on river-left after the confluence with the Ellis just past a section of visible railway tracks at the Believe in Books trail network.
  7. Drag the boat out of the water, and then run over the trail network to the kayak/bike transition zone.
  8. Volunteers will transport kayaks and paddling gear up to a designated area in the Theater Parking Lot.
  9. The best spectator spots and team support crew sites are between mile 3.5 and 4.0 as well as over the final 300 yards along the railway tracks.
  10. If you need to rent a kayak we recommend contacting one of our sponsors like Saco Bound

2020 River Conditions and Notes on Kayak Transition points:

New for 2020: The Kayak Takeout is 1/4 mile downstream of the Glen Ellis Campground on the Believe in Books Foundation trail network. Kayakers will pull their boats out of the water and run 1/4 mile through the trail network to the Kayak-Bike Tag Zone.

Check back here for the latest updates on river conditions and any last-minute course adjustments.

Paddlers should be aware that there are natural hazards in the river that should be avoided.

Water levels are likely to fluctuate by race day if rain is in the forecast. Check race maps for emerging details on navigating specific transition zones.



Total distance, 19.4 miles, approximately 2,000 feet total climb, Mix of road and gravel riding

  1. The Kayak-to-Bike transition zone happens at the Believe in Books Foundation trail network. Kayaker proceeds over trail network to tag biker at bike rack locations on the foundation’s gravel service roads.
  2. Bikers exit the Believe in Books Driveway crossing Rt 16/302 onto Town Hall Road. Use caution at this crossing where traffic control measures will be in place.
    Turn left onto Rt 16A and immediately right onto Dundee Road.
  3. Dundee Road includes 1.1 miles of gravel road.
  4. Follow Dundee Road all the way to a right turn onto Moody Farm Road at Black Mountain Ski Area.
    Turn left onto Carter Notch Road.
  5. Observe the posted 35 mph speed limit on Carter Notch Rd as you descend the steep hill next to Jackson Falls.
    Turn Right onto the main street in Jackson and right again onto Rt 16 north.
  6. Continue on Route 16 towards the Appalachian Mountain Club Pinkham Notch Visitor Center area.
    The bike/hike transition zone is in the dirt parking lot for the Deritissma Trail, which is on the left, just before the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. Race staff and volunteers will be manning this point to ensure a smooth entrance and highway crossing. Note - there are three road crossings manned with FOTR volunteers, Bartlett Police and State Police:
    1. Rte 16 / Town Hall Road
    2. Town Hall Rd / Rt 16A
    3. Moody Hill Rd/Carter Notch Rd
    4. Rt 16/ Deritissma Parking Lot

2020 Road Conditions and Notes on Bike Transition points:

New for 2020: The bike route travels around the East Side of the Mount Washington Valley and will include 1.6 miles of gravel road within the Believe in Books property and on the Dundee Rd. 

Alternate Route:  If the Dundee Road is closed or if road conditions preclude riding on the road we will use the following alternative route:

  1. Left onto 16A from Townhall Road
  2. Right onto Thorne Hill Road (The top of Thorne Hill road is currently gravel)
  3. Use extreme caution on the downhill into Jackson. Mandatory 35mph speed limit
  4. Right onto Main Street
  5. Right onto Black Moutain Road
  6. Left onto Moody Farm Road
  7. Continue on the primary course.

On either course, there are steep downhills leading into the congested village of Jackson. Cyclists need to control speed on the Carter Notch Road downhill adjacent to Jackson Falls and on Thorne Hill (if used) as it approaches Main Street.  

The bike-to-hike transition point is still at Pinkham Notch and requires crossing Rt 16 from the right shoulder to the left shoulder into the Deritissma parking lot. Racers and support teams will have limited parking here and if you do park there, once the first bikers come into the transition point, no cars will be allowed in or out of this parking area until the bike leg is complete. If you park here and expect to leave earlier, park somewhere else. Volunteers and race staff will be on-site to guide you to the AMC Pinkham Notch parking area.

Check back here for any last-minute updates or changes on the bike route.



Total distance, approximately 3 miles, 2,268 feet total climb


  1. The hiker will be tagged by the biker at the transition zone at the Deritissma Trailhead parking lot.
  2. The hiker will proceed across the footbridge and around the perimeter of the south end of the AMC parking lot to the Joe Dodge Lodge Service Road.
  3. The hiker will continue around behind the Joe Dodge Lodge to the Tuckerman Ravine Trail.
  4. Hikers follow the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to the transition zone located either in Tuckerman Ravine or at Hillman’s Highway.  The location is condition dependent and will be established by 7 am on race day.
  5. At Hermit Lake Shelter, hikers are to follow a course marked by traffic cones around the perimeter of the courtyard.  This is a public, busy spot on the course and competitors must make efforts to minimize the impact on other public uses of the area.
  6. Note that the actual location of the ski course will be determined in the week leading up to race day based on snow conditions and weather.  This could change on race day due to weather and safety conditions.
  7. The hiker must arrive at the Hike / Ski transition zone by 1 PM or the skier may be disqualified.

2020 Hiking Conditions and Notes on Hike Transition points:

We strongly recommend that hikers have traction devices like micro-spikes, nano spikes or yak tracks for this leg or consider using snowshoes or skis to hike/skin up.


  1. The skier will hike up the mountain from the designated hike-to-ski transition zone to the start of a giant slalom course set somewhere in Tuckerman Ravine, Hillmans Highway, or the general vicinity.
  2. The exact course will be determined the day prior to the race based on snow and weather conditions and safety considerations.
  3. For 2020 we intend to set a course as close to the original American Inferno as weather, snowpack, and open water allow.


  1. Equipment used for the ski leg must be carried by the skier from the transition zone---and by solo racers from the road---no pre-established ski caches will be allowed.
  2. Neutral party assistance is allowed for equipment, mechanical or terrain encountered difficulties.
  3. No team assistance is allowed.
  4. The course and transition zone will be set-up on Friday and announced at Registration.
  5. The changes to the course/transition zone may be made at 7 am the day of the race as a function of prevailing conditions.
  6. The course will consist of control gates and piste markers as set by chief of course.
  7. Skiiers are required to carry an avalanche beacon, probe, and shovel

2020 Ski Conditions and Notes on Ski Transition points:

New for 2020: In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the "Tuckerman Inferno" we intend to set a course as close to the original 1938 "American Inferno" ski race as possible. This can only happen as long as there are no "holes" opening-up on the Lip and weather and snow conditions cooperate.  

All racers entering avalanche terrain must carry a Beacon, Probe, and Shovel and will pass through a beacon check station.

The ski course will be set on the Friday before the race. Check back for further updates that will be posted here.

Racers should be checking the MWAC Avalanche Advisory daily for updates on snow conditions.



Road Safety

  1. The racecourse has several steep hills approaching busy intersections. Racers must abide by posted speed limits, especially in the Jackson Village area.
  2. The racecourse runs along several busy state highways. Crossing zones have been identified and staffed by volunteers, state and local police. Competitors should be aware of the traffic and are responsible for choosing a safe time and location to cross these highways to minimize interaction with local road traffic.
  3. There will be no chase vehicles allowed on the road portion of the course. Several of the roads have high traffic on narrow roads and chase vehicles impede local traffic. In order to secure permission to run the race from the local community, we have to minimize the impact on the flow of traffic over these roads. Your cooperation is appreciated.

River Safety

  1. Natural hazards such as rocks, trees, and strong currents exist in the river racecourse on the Saco River.  Kayakers should familiarize themselves with the course and the hazards prior to race day. 
  2. Kayakers are responsible for choosing the safest route on the river that avoids natural hazards.
  3. Volunteers organized by the White Mountain Swift Water Rescue Team will be present to provide safety coverage along the river course on race day.
  4. Kayakers who observe fellow racers in trouble are obligated to provide assistance if no safety personnel are nearby.
  5. Kayakers should dress for the water temperature. Dry Tops and/or wet suits are recommended.  Extra fleece layers under a rain shell will keep you warm when they get wet.

Mountain Safety

  1. Avalanche Beacon, Probe, and Shovel are personal protective equipment in Avalanche Terrain and as such are required equipment for the Ski Leg.
  2. Competitors should be prepared for winter travel in hazardous terrain on the hike and ski legs of the race.  There is the possibility of a dramatic change in temperature and weather from the start of the hike leg to the finish of the ski leg.
  3. Tuckerman Ravine is avalanche prone terrain. Competitors should be familiar with the normal precautions necessary for safe travel in avalanche terrain. Always check the latest avalanche report from the USFS Avalanche Center at Hermit Lake can be found at www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org
  4. Pay attention to the weather and the latest avalanche forecast and take the necessary precautions. 
  5. Falling ice is a significant hazard in the spring. Competitors and spectators should be aware of hanging ice and the areas in Tuckerman Ravine where ice is likely to end up when and if it breaks loose from the wall. Competitors and spectators should position themselves in protected areas to minimize their risk. 
  6. Crevasses are a major risk in the ravine. The racecourse will be set in a location that avoids the major known crevasses.  Competitors and spectators should be current on the locations of the crevasses and avoid travel in those areas.
  7. Undermined snow is a hazard in the floor of the ravine and lower portions of the Little Headwall. Meltwater running under the snow can cause sinkholes to develop.
  8. The Little Headwall is an open waterfall. Skiing from Tuckerman Ravine to Hermit Lake is not recommended and may not be possible.  
  9. Competitors should be prepared for winter conditions in the ravine. Temperatures may not warm enough for soft corn skiing.  Pay attention to the weather forecast and have the equipment necessary for safe winter travel (ie, avalanche beacon, shovel, probe, crampons, and an ice ax) available.
  10. The Tuckerman Ravine Trail is open to the public during the race. Be aware of the general public and share the trail with them. FOTR will have an information booth at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center to inform other users of the race. Be courteous and let other hikers know you are passing. 


  1. Parking is limited at all transition zones. Most of the transition zones are located on private land or in lots designated for NH Department of Transportation operations.  Please be respectful of the private property so that we can continue to enjoy access for future races.
  2. All transition zones will have designated drop off and pickup areas. Support teams will have 5 minutes to load and unload gear in these zones. Teams will be issued drop off/pick up passes at registration.


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