Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Hiking to a Cloudless Mount Garfield

The spectacular weather continues here in the White Mountains and today was forecast to be another beauty. My hike today would take me up the Garfield Trail to Mount Garfield (4,500').

A chilly start

Sun breaks through the trees

On the edge of the Pemigewasset Wilderness

It was a cold start to the day with temps in the 30's. The drive began dark and foggy so I had to keep a sharp eye out for moose in the road. It turned out to be a moose-free drive. There were many cars at the trailhead parking area. I'm going to assume that some of the hikers spent the night on the trail.  This morning I would be starting out with fleece, warm hat, and glove liners.

Cannon Mountain

Hikers on the summit of Mount Lafayette

I was on the Garfield Trail at 7:00 AM. It was a nice brisk walk through the cool forest. I hiked for a couple of miles before the first sunlight penetrated the trees. Another mile and it was time for the fleece, hat and gloves to come off. At about this time I started meeting the first hikers coming down off the mountain. As I made my way up the trail I saw a Forest Protection Area sign on a tree that had a small map on it and an arrow pointing to a trail with "You Are Here". The only problem was that the arrow was pointing to the wrong trail and caused me to think maybe I stopped at the wrong trailhead and I was hiking to another summit. It was too late to turn back and I kept on going.

Just after 9:00 AM I reached the trail junction and was right where I was supposed to be, the Forest Protection Area sign was wrong. Another 0.2 mile and I was on the summit. The sun was brilliant and the sky was clear and deep blue. There were several hikers up here already and more were just arriving so there was quite a crowd gathered. I could see that it was going to be tricky for me to get my usual panoramic video shot.

Lots of blue sky

Short sleeves and shorts

Before any more hikers arrived I jumped up on top of the old concrete fire tower foundation and got a panoramic shot. It didn't turn out well and there was a lot of background noise. I figured I'd try again if the crowd thinned. In the meantime I strolled the ledges, snapped some still scenes and a few selfies. After patiently waiting I found myself momentarily alone on the summit. I got inside the foundation and captured a nice panoramic video of the surrounding summits.

Just before starting my descent I changed to short sleeves and shorts, it was comfortably warm with just an occasional wisp of a breeze. A very popular trail today and there were a lot of hikers coming up. There was a couple stopped at the same Forest Protection Area sign that gave me pause on the way up. They had their map out and I knew they were thinking the same as me when I saw it. I assured them the map on the sign was wrong and thought I heard a sigh of relief. We continued on our separate ways.

Sign is wrong...You Are *NOT* Here

A warm finish

It took me an hour and a half to hike the five miles from the summit back to the parking lot. The Garfield Trail is a great hike. It's a gradual climb except for the last two tenths of a mile to the summit. The hike up was 2:15 with book time being 4 hours. I was expecting to see some leaves changing color but it appears the Fall foliage is a bit late this year. Today was perfect hiking weather and the views were spectacular under a clear blue sky! 

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!


  1. Thank you for the report. Great weather, great pics, great post.

    1. You're Welcome...and Thank You for visiting Outdoor Diversion!