Hike Mt Eisenhower and Mt Pierce via Edmands and Crawford Path Loop: Sep 2020

Updated: Jan 21

Hike Distance: 10.8 miles

Elevation Gain: 3,150 ft

Prominence: Mt Eisenhower: 350 ft, Mt Pierce: 235 ft


Click here for a review of prominence and its role in mountain topography.


“You’re off to great places, today is your day. Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way.” Dr Seuss.


The Presidential Mountain Range is located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Containing the highest peaks of the Whites, most summits are named for American presidents, followed by prominent public figures of the 18th and 19th centuries. The Presidential Range is notorious for having some of the worst weather on Earth, mainly because of the unpredictability of high wind speeds and whiteout conditions on the higher summits. Photo courtesy of Granitegeeks.

Of the eleven recognized Presidential Range Mountains, Mt Eisenhower (4,780 ft) ranks 6th highest followed by Mt Pierce (4,310 ft) as the 7th highest. Of the 67 New England 4000 footers, Eisenhower ranks 12th highest and Pierce 30th highest.


We began our hike at the Edmands Trailhead with perfect hiking weather. This trail began with just a slight incline to get us warmed up for lies ahead.

Mt Eisenhower via Edmands Path.
Red leave on Edmands Path to Mt Eisenhower

We passed over a handful of small streams.

Stream crossing Edmands Path to Mt Eisenhower
Mt Eisenhower via Edmands Path.

After 0.75 miles, the trail became steeper and more rocky and more root-filled.

Mt Eisenhower via Edmands Path.

Fortunately most of the rocks were well organized and not difficult to navigate around.

Eroded and rock covered Edmands Path to Mt Eisenhower

If you regularly hike in a part of the country where the trails are graded and tramped smooth mitigating the necessity of negotiating rocks and roots, hiking in the Whites may prove to be a disappointment.

Eroded and rock covered Edmands Path to Mt Eisenhower

As I've mentioned in other blogs, according to the Appalachian Mountain Club, the generalization that New England trails are rockier and steeper than elsewhere in the country is true-ish.

Eroded and rock covered Edmands Path to Mt Eisenhower
Eroded and rock covered Edmands Path to Mt Eisenhower

On top of the roughness of the trails, the trails to White Mountain peaks are quite steep, rising over 1,000 feet per mile for miles at a time without switchbacks to provide physical or mental relief to weary hikers. The best thing to do under these circumstances is to keep your eyes down to avoid crushing all hope, and take small steps so not to exhaust your quadriceps muscles.

Eroded and rock covered Edmands Path to Mt Eisenhower

After two miles we reached a section of the trail with partial views of the mountains.

View of White Mountains from Edmands Path

The views provided an opportunity to stop and take a break from the constant uphill terrain.

View of White Mountains from Edmands Path

A tough section of the trail to navigate holding a 35-mm camera.

Eroded and rock covered Edmands Path to Mt Eisenhower

Just a friendly reminder from the National Forest Service.

Extreme weather warning on Edmands Path. Worst weather in America.

The trail narrowed with dense tree growth on both sides.

Dense forest along Edmands Path to Mt Eisenhower

In the occasional openings we could see some of the Presidential Mountains. In the center of the picture is Mt Washington at 6,288ft, the tallest mountain in the state and on the left, partially hidden by the tree trunk and branch, is Mt Jefferson at 5,712 ft.

Mt Washington from Edmands path to Mt Eisenhower

We emerged from the forested area and fortunately for us there was no wind. This is the section of the trail where weather conditions dictate whether or not it is safe to continue hiking above the tree line. In the winter, on average, Mt Washington experiences hurricane-force winds once every three days and 100-mph winds once a week. This line explains it clearly: Mt. Washington’s danger lies not in its height, the length of its trail, or the roughness of its terrain. Its danger lies in how the mountain makes its own weather.

Ledge along Edmands Path to Mt Eisenhower

We had broad sweeping views leading to the Washington summit.

Ravines at base of Mt Washington.

After 2.5 hours we reached the junction with Crawford Trail which leads to the Presidential Traverse and Mt. Washington. After our lunch break, we'd follow the Eisenhower Loop to the summit.

Trail sign junction of Edmands Path and Crawford Path

What a background.

Mt Washington from Edmands path to Mt Eisenhower

We needed to hike up this rock outcropping before heading to the summit. It was a bigger than it looks in the picture.

Rocky crag on Mt Eisenhower Loop Trail

A close up of a hiker climbing the outcropping

Hiker climbing rocky crag on Mt Eisenhower Loop Trail

Time to get moving again.

Climbing rocky crag on Mt Eisenhower Loop Trail

Dave making his way up the switchbacks of this crag. What amazing luck to have such a clear view of Mt Washington (first peak moving left to right).

View of White Mountains from Eisenhower Loop Trail
Climbing rocky crag leading to Mt Eisenhower summit

Dave waiting patiently ahead. I'm not a slow climber, it takes time to position myself to get the perfect shot.

Climbing rocky crag leading to Mt Eisenhower summit

From this elevation, we could look down see our lunch spot and where the Edmands and Crawford trails intersected.

Junction of Edmands Path and Crawford Path from Mt Eisenhower

Still climbing the crag.

Climbing rocky crag leading to Mt Eisenhower summit

Although the cairns weren't needed today they are probably life savers during bad weather.

Climbing rocky crag leading to Mt Eisenhower summit

Twenty minutes after restarting, we were on the bald summit of Mt Eisenhower (4,760 ft) with 360 degree views. In 1972 this mountain known as Mt Pleasant was renamed by the NH state legislature in honor of the former US president.

Summit of Mt Eisenhower in the Presidential Mountain Range. 4000 footer

Clear skies looking toward the east.

Summit of Mt Eisenhower in the Presidential Mountain Range. 4000 footer

Starting to hike off the summit via switchbacks.

Trail from Mt Eisenhower summit to Crawford Path

We were heading to the ridgeline. Mt Pierce is the tallest peak in the foreground located just left of center in the picture below.

Trail from Mt Eisenhower summit to Crawford Path

Walking along the mostly flat ridgeline was a welcome break.

Ridgeline trail to Mt Pierce.

Several sections of the trail had raised platforms to protect the fragile plant life in these boggy areas.

Ridgeline trail to Mt Pierce

The Webster Cliff Trail to Mt Pierce was marked by a small sign but I photographed the wrong side.

Crawford Path trail sign

On the short 0.1 mile summit trail looking back at the dome-shaped summit of Mt Eisenhower and the ridge line we had followed after dropping off the summit.

Trail leading to Mt Pierce summit

A close-up of the geodetic survey marker at the Mount Pierce summit (4,310 ft). The 2nd NH 4000 footer conquered today.

Geodetic survey marker at summit of Mt Pierce in the Presidential Mountain Range. 4000 footer

It was an easy 1.5 mile hike between summits but now it was time to return to the Crawford Path and begin the grueling downhill section of the loop.

Because trails in the Whites run straight up and down the mountains at steep grades without switchbacks, they behave like rivers when it rains. The trails become channels for the water causing erosion and exposing even more roots and rocks and further deepening the trails and channels.

Eroded and rock covered Crawford Path from Mt Eisenhower

The never ending rocky road continued for 3 miles with an average grade of 20% or more.

Eroded and rock covered Crawford Path from Mt Eisenhower

Some people don’t mind and sail effortlessly from rock to rock. Others, like me carefully navigate between rocks and around roots.

Eroded and rock covered Crawford Path from Mt Eisenhower

One highlight that broke up the monotony of navigating every rock and root was Gibbs Falls.

Gibbs Fall on Crawford Path from Mt Eisenhower. White Mountains waterfall.

Less than a half mile later we were back at the car and ready for the long drive home.


Hike Distance: 10.8 miles

Duration: 7.25 hours

Average Pace: 40.5 min/mile

We had a great view of Mt Eisenhower from Route 302 as we were heading home.


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