Distance: 7.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,950 ft
Prominence: 351 ft Mt Tom; 1,701 ft Mt Field
Click here for a review of prominence and its role in mountain topography.
In an effort to add to our NH 4000-footers, we hiked the Mt Tom - Mt Field & Mt Avalon loop trail. Only Mt Tom and Mt Field qualify as 4000-footers but Mt Avalon is included in the loop because of the outstanding views from the summit.
TRANSPARENCY STATEMENT: Hiking in New Hampshire White Mountains is always fun but we only completed this trail to check off 2 of the 4000-footers. Wooded summits are not my favorite hiking destinations, I need some ‘payoff’ and only Mt Avalon offered it. In my humble opinion, there are so many others trails in NH that would provide the same or better hiking experience.
From the parking lot we had a clear view of two of the mountains we'd summit today, Mt Avalon (left) and Mt Tom (right).
The Avalon Trail began right behind the Crawford Depot Station railroad track. Crawford Depot, also known as the Maine Central Passenger Railway Station, is a historic passenger railroad station at the top of Crawford Notch in the Bretton Woods area in Carroll, New Hampshire. Built in 1891, it is a surviving emblem of the importance of the railroad in the area's history as a tourist destination.
The Avalon Trail climbed moderately through a forested area with occasionally foot crossings of Crawford Brook as it fanned out over rocky slabs.
I have to admit this may be one of my better long exposure photos that I’ve taken on a hike.
What would a hike in New Hampshire be without walking on eroded paths and stepping over exposed roots?
After approximately 0.8 miles the trail split and we followed the A-Z trail that forked to the right. After climbing moderately for one half mile, a series of switchbacks and rock stairs created rapid elevation gains.
At the next junction, we turned right to follow the Mt Tom Spur trail.
Navigating more rock and log stairs as we approached the summit.
At the top of the stairs, the trail opened to a small clearing with a view of the summit cairn. Mt Tom rises 4,051 feet above sea level making it the lowest mountain in the Willey Range. The wooded summit obscured any views of the surrounding mountains.
After exploring and taking a few photos, we took the spur trail back to the junction and then followed the Wiley Range trail toward Mt Field.
There were limited views on the trail, a common theme throughout this hike.
Moss covered every surface resulting a green shading to the surroundings.
The trail climbed steeply as we approached the summit.
We paid tribute to a great travel blogger (@TheDetourEffect) at the Mt Field summit cairn. At 4,331 feet, Field is the highest peak in the Willey Range. This mountain is named after Darby Field, who in 1642 led the first recorded ascent of Mt. Washington, the tallest mountain (6,228 ft) in New England.
Although there were limited views from the summit we were able to see Mt Tom (center) in a clearing.
From Mt Field it was a quick 30 minute hike to Mt Avalon. Mount Avalon is often included in the Mt Tom and Field loop hike because this minor summit (3,442 ft) has the best unobstructed views in the Willey Range.
We followed a rocky ledge to a vista.
Finally views and the rewards for hiking two more of the NH 4000 footers.
The impressive ridge of the Southern Presidentials with Mt. Washington (center) and Mt Clay and Mt Jefferson to the left.
While researching this hike I found an interesting post by The Hiking Geek that described the difference between mountain trails in New Hampshire versus California.
'Having done most of my hiking in California, I am still surprised at steepness and narrowness of some NH trails; if the trails in CA were 4 lane freeways across the open desert, NH trails would be rocky single tracks in hills of Los Angeles. Trails that are of similar condition in CA would typically be considered class 2 or unmaintained trails.'
As a frequent hiker in California, this helps explain why I sometimes describe hiking in New Hampshire as a 'soul sucking' experience.