Sunday, July 31, 2016

Mt. Garfield (4500), Garfield Ridge West (3667), Garfield Ridge East (3590)

Mt. Garfield Summit
STATE: New Hampshire
TOWN: Franconia
DESTINATION: Mt. Garfield, Garfield Ridge West, Garfield Ridge East
ELEVATION: 4500 Ft, 3667 Ft, 3590 Ft.
West Garfield SUMMIT COORDINATES: N44 11.396, W71 35.716
East Garfield SUMMIT COORDINATES: N44 11.575, W71 34.916
TRAIL: Garfield Trail, Garfield Ridge Trail (AT), Bushwhack, Garfield Ridge Trail, Herd Path, Garfield Ridge Trail, Gale River Trail, Road walk.
DISTANCE: 13 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 3500 Feet
HIKING TIME: 5 Hours 35 minutes
SEASON: Summer
DATE: July 30, 2016
WEATHER: 60 Degrees, clear skies.  70-80 miles visibility

PARKING: From US 3 Turn right at Five Corners onto Fire Road #92.  Continue 1.2 miles to the Garfield trail parking area. There is room for 10 cars in the lot plus plenty of overflow onto the road.  The parking area is marked with a large kiosk and The Garfield trail is marked with a sign.

Approximately 90 minutes drive time from Manchester

USGS QUAD: USGS Franconia Quad

MAP: (Garfield), (Garfield West), (Garfield East)




DESCRIPTION: 

The Garfield Trail begins on the right side of the parking lot adjacent to the trail map kiosk.  It is well trodden and easy to follow the blue blazes through old woods as you follow the left bank high above Thompson Brook. The trail soon turns left and widens as it reaches the old fire warden road. It crosses then recrosses a small tributary to Thompson Brook then begins a modest incline over rocky terrain that never really became steep, difficult or eventful. After 4.5 miles you'll reach the junction with the Garfield Ridge Trail (Appalachian Trail).  Mt. Garfield is a steep 0.2 miles to the north and has you'll discover a 10 foot square cement wall which are the only remains of a fire tower which once stood here. The spectacular 360 degree views are awe inspiring looking deep into the Pemigewasset Wilderness and surrounding peaks of Franconia Notch, Owl's Head, the Hancocks and Carrigan, the Bonds, the Twins and Galehead. Among the plethora of 4k's you'll be able to see Mt. Kearsarge in Warner and the Uncanoonuc Mountains in Manchester on a blue bird day.

Owl's head (foreground) and the Uncanoonuc Mountains 80 miles south
Marred trees marking the bushwhack route
Return the way you came.  Energetic peakbaggers may want to continue three miles east along the Garfield Ridge Trail (Appalachian Trail) to Galehead hut for the opportunity to hike two New Hampshire hundred highest peaks (short bushwhacks) and Galehead mountain. This side trip adds approximately 5 miles to the overall distance. The Garfield Ridge Trail descends very steeply following the AT white blazes passing Garfield tent site continuing it's steep drop to the junction of the Franconia Brook Trail.  It begins to incline as it ascends the West Peak of Garfield Ridge. Reaching the height of land bushwhack 0.15 miles directly south through moss covered semi-thick but not impenetrable woods. I found a faint herd path and noticed a series of ax marred trees leading the way to the high point.  There is a glass (pickle) jar hanging from a tree at the viewless summit.  With the closeness to the AT, I expected this bushwhack to be trivial. The journey was a tad more arduous with less of a trail and thicker woods than I expected however the short and straight bushwhack was uneventful and would be a great peak for a beginner bushwhacker to hone their skills.

PVC canister at the Garfield Ridge East outlook
Continue east on the Garfield Ridge trail over several ups and downs to Garfield Ridge East. The summit is 100 feet off the trail and follows a well used (unmarked) herd path from the height of land.  This is an obvious trail and easy to follow to the overlook staring directly towards Galehead and Galehead hut. There is a small PVC register at the outlook.  Purists may want to circle the woods as I believe the high point is on or near a large boulder 20-30 feet away.


Continue to the junction of the Gale River trail. Galehead Hut is 0.6 miles away and Galehead mountain is an additional 0.5 miles. I felt hot spots on my feet and chose to descend the Gale River trail 4.0 miles to the parking area.  The 1.5 mile road walk was an uphill and arduous eventually reaching the Garfield Trail head and my car.




TRAIL DISTANCES:

HIKING DISTANCES
DESTINATION
DISTANCE TOTAL DIST.
Garfield Trail - Garfield Ridge Trail 4.8 miles 4.8 miles
Garfield Ridge Trail - Garfield Summit 0.2 miles 5.0 miles
Garfield Summit - Garfield Ridge Trail 0.2 miles 5.2 miles
Garfield Ridge Trail - Garfield tentsite 0.2 miles 5.4 miles
Garfield Tentsite - Franconia Brook Trail Jct 0.5 miles 5.9 miles
Franconia Brook trail Jct - Garfield Ridge Height of land 0.3 miles 6.2 miles
Garfield Ridge (west) Height of Land - Garfield Ridge West Peak 0.15 miles 6.35 miles
Garfield Ridge West Peak - Garfield Ridge Trail 0.15 miles 6.5 miles
Garfield Ridge Trail - Garfield Ridge (east) herd path 0.6 miles 7.1 miles
Garfield Ridge (east) herd path - Garfield Ridge East peak 100 feet 7.1 miles
Garfield Ridge Trail - Gale River Trail 0.4 miles 7.5 miles
Gale River Trail - Gale River parking 4.0 miles 11.5 miles
Gale River Trail parking - Garfield Trail parking 1.5 miles 13 miles

HIKING TIMES:

HIKING TIMES
DESTINATION
TIME TOTAL TIME
Garfield Trail - Garfield Ridge Trail 1 hour 52 min 1 hour 52 min
Garfield Ridge Trail - Garfield Summit 8 min 2 hours
Garfield Summit - Garfield Ridge Trail 8 min 2 hours 8 min
Garfield Ridge Trail - Garfield tentsite 5 min 2 hours 13 min
Garfield Tentsite - Franconia Brook Trail Jct 17 min 2 hours 30 min
Franconia Brook trail Jct - Garfield Ridge Height of land 5 min 2 hours 35 min
Garfield Ridge (west) Height of Land - Garfield Ridge West Peak 15 min 2 hours 50 min
Garfield Ridge West Peak - Garfield Ridge Trail 10 min 3 hours
Garfield Ridge Trail - Garfield Ridge (east) herd path 23 min 3 hours 23 min
Garfield Ridge (east) herd path - Garfield Ridge East peak 12 min 3 hours 35 min
Garfield Ridge Trail - Gale River Trail 10 min 3 hours 45 min
Gale River Trail - Gale River parking 1 hour 25 min 5 hours 10 min
Gale River Trail parking - Garfield Trail parking 25 min 5 hours 35 min

NOTES / COMMENTS:

Mt. Garfield (4500 Ft) is worth the hike alone. The panoramic views are one of the best in all the white mountains and a place I could sit in awe in wonderment for hours.  Today's goal was the 3000 foot West and East peaks along the ridge.
Mt. Lafayette and Franconia Ridge

Galehead Mountain, South Twin and the Bonds

Owl's head and the view south

Garfield Ridge East Peak, Galehead Mountain and the Twins

South Twin and Galehead Mountain


No comments:

Post a Comment