Hike Distance: 10 miles
Elevation Gain: 3155 ft
Prominence: 820 ft
Click here for a review of prominence and its role in mountain topography.
Mt Garfield lies in the Franconia Ridge along with Mount Lafayette, Mount Lincoln, Mount Flume and Mount Liberty and ranks as the 17th highest among the 4000-foot peaks in New Hampshire. What makes this mountain stand out from many of the other White Mountains is the level of difficulty and the grand view from the from the summit. Garfield is considered by most to be a top competitor for the best viewpoint in the White Mountains.
On paper, the Garfield Trail looks to be a daunting challenge: a 5-mile hike with over 3,000 feet of elevation gain in the White Mountains which is infamous for rocky, tree-root covered eroded trails.
However, the elevation gain is spread over the entire length of the trail resulting in a steady gradual ascent. You just need to be game for the 10-mile round trip. We started out early so the low light conditions made for some great photos.
For the majority of the hike we walked through a green tunnel of trees, ferns and moss.
An easy stream crossing provided lots of opportunities to test out long exposure picture taking.
The trail passed through beautiful birch groves where the trees looked like thin marble columns.
It was probably when we approached these rocky switchbacks that we grew concerned about the lingering low cloud cover.
It looked like the sun was not going to show up today!
The lack of sunlight made the green moss that carpeted the tree roots stand out even more than usual.
After 4.8 miles we reached the Garfield Ridge Trail and the final 0.2 miles of the climb.
The trees began to thin out and we were greeted by low clouds and then came the rocks!
Everyone basically agrees that it's this final 0.2 miles that are the toughest. You can’t hike in the Whites without climbing over and hopping around the rocks.
After 0.2 miles we reached the opening right before the summit and got a chance to NOT see one of the best viewpoint in the White Mountains.
The amazing view to the North, or was it to the South....ahhh hell if could have been looking in any direction from the summit. When you hike often enough you are bound to run into this type of weather on a mountain top but it's no where near as bad as the weather that greeted us on the summit of Buachaille Etive Mor in the Scottish Highlands.
We had lunch on the windy and cold summit and after this selfie, we headed back down.
Now you can understand why this quote sums up our hike to the summit of Mt Garfield… “If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” Vincent Van Gogh. We were determined to enjoy the descent so we focused on finding beauty closer to the ground.
Also, looking back, I'm really pleased with some of the forest photos along the trail. The mood in these pics wouldn't have been possible if it had been a bright sunny day on Mt Garfield; so don't forget to find the hidden and obvious beauty in your adventures.